Friday, December 29, 2006

The internet hiatus starts today. I'll be offline for about a week. See you then.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Last night, Nell and I had dinner at Italian Villa in Arlington. A tradition of sorts, as five years ago I proposed after dinner at the same restaurant. It was a nice meal, and afterwards we retired to the house for our exchange of Christmas gifts. Nell gave me some cool pants and two hip shirts (I'm notoriously bad at purchasing clothes--unless it's UT-related regalia). I plan on wearing them to Christmas at my parents' house tomorrow. As for my gift to Nell, well, without going into specifics, it came in a box that looked like this...

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The annual litigation section Christmas party took place yesterday afternoon. The champagne was flowing and by 5:30 pm (the party started at 3:30 pm), everyone was feeling fine. Afterwards, a handful of us ventured to a local bar for another drink. It was a good time until...

I awoke early this morning and went out for a run. The first mile was pretty slow (10+ mins), but I started picking it up. I finished my obligatory 3 miles in 26:49, so somehow I managed to keep it under 9 minute miles. I've got to remember than drinking and running just don't mix.
There are eleven days left in 2006. Wow. It's been a very good year. Over the next week or so, I may recount some of the high points of the past 365 days. There are many, and I'm sure I'll forget some that may come to me later. But right now, it's 6 a.m., I've been up for half an hour, and I'm feeling reflective.

To start off, January 4, 2006, was a great evening. We watched the Rose Bowl game at our friends' house on their newly purchased gargantuan HD TV as VY led the Longhorns to an incredible victory over the USC Trojans. Unbelievable.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Yesterday morning, I woke up feeling pretty good and decided to go for a short run. I left the house and ventured down towards the levee. It was cool and windy, but not too cold. There was light rain falling. No one was out. It was grand. I had the entire Trinity trail to myself. A short run turned into a medium run. I logged in 7 miles at a comfortable 8:54 pace. And that includes a pretty brutal hill up Hidden Road (152 feet over 1/2 a mile). I would've keep going, but, unfortunately, running doesn't pay the bills, and work beckoned.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

This may be the blogger's equivalent of chain mail, but I'll play along in the spirit of the holidays.
1. Egg nog or hot chocolate? Egg nog.
2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Santa sets 'em on the fireplace or in the stockings. Unwrapped.
3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? Colored outside (need to buy new ones, as several lights have gone out). White lights on the tree.
4. Do you hang mistletoe? Nope.
5. When do you put your decorations up? Normally the Saturday after Thanksgiving, but we got the outdoor lights up early for a party. The tree and indoor decorations came a week later.
6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Hmmm....
7. Favorite holiday memory as a child? Decorating the tree with homemade ornaments.
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? The truth? I'm not following you....
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Yep, and it's always pajamas. Family tradition.
10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? A mix of ornaments and race medals.
11. Snow! Love it or dread it? Love it because I live 2.4 miles from my office and everything I need is within 5 miles. In other words, if something's gotta get done, I can run there.
12. Can you ice skate? Almost as well as I base jump.
13. Do you remember your favorite gift? Everyday with Nell is a gift.
14. What's the most important thing about the holidays for you? Family and friends.
15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? Pecan pie with vanilla bean ice cream.
16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Christmas eve mass.
17. What tops your tree? A small star ornament.
18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving? Giving. I'm too impatient when it comes to receiving. I just go out and buy what I want. Nell says that's party of why I'm hard to shop for.
19. What is your favorite Christmas song? It varies, but I've always been fond of Greensleeves/What Child is This?
20. Candy canes? Not so much.
21. Favorite Christmas movie? National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Or Die Hard. (It's a Christmas movie, go watch it again if you don't believe me.)
22. What do you leave for Santa? Who?

Monday, December 18, 2006

It's December and it's 74 degrees in my house and the heat isn't on. Unbelievable. I went running today and wore shorts and a sleeveless t-shirt and I was drenched with sweat by the first mile. Did I mention that it's December?!?
So Dean is done. At least with his run across the country. He made it almost halfway before opting for a return to his family. I think he made the right decision.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

I've been at the office for several hours today working on a response to a motion to dismiss. Ugh. Not the ideal way to spend a Sunday. Now I'm brain dead and need to go run. I'll be leaving in a few minutes. (Not to fear, dear work, I will bring my laptop home with me so I can continue this drudgery long into the evening.)

Yesterday was a fun Saturday. No work, all play. I got up around 6 a.m. and went for a 5 mile run. After that, I met up with three friends for golf. The weather was great, and I even won $10. I grabbed lunch and took a nice hour and a half nap before meeting up with Nell for a party at Joe T's. Somehow, the party moved from the restaurant to our house, where it finally wound down around midnight. Good times, but I paid for them this morning with a nasty headache. Bummer.

Friday, December 15, 2006

I just realized I ran a negative split at the Rock. The first half took me 1:59:48. The next half took me 1:57:12. So somehow I improved my pace by 2:36.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Random White Rock photos...

This is around the lake, about a mile or two before heading back into the neighborhoods. I like the random dude behind us flashing the Hook 'em Horns.



Apparently, I was pretty happy to be crossing the finish line. (Note the clock: 3:59:24!)






And here's a shot post-race with J-Ball. (He's from the future.)



Wednesday, December 13, 2006

J-Ball and I ran our first post-White Rock run this morning. 3 easy miles in 29 minutes, 57 seconds (9:59 per mile). Stiff but not too stiff. We walked twice during the run, but still kept the overall pace under 10 minutes per mile. I'm doing 4 miles tomorrow and 6 on Saturday.

I love running.

Monday, December 11, 2006

This morning, I awoke in a way that has never happened the day after a marathon -- pain free. Normally, I'm unbelievably stiff for a few days after 26.2 miles. I hobble around the office like Frankenstein, barely able to bend my knees or adjust my stride for fear of muscle spasms and cramps. But this morning, for whatever reason, I felt fine. I've got a little soreness, but no more than a typical long or a particularly fast short run. I can't really explain it, other than maybe my body is (finally) adjusting to longer distances. This is a good thing. Especially if I plan to continue my journey toward greater endurance endeavors.

So... let's talk about the race. I hadn't slept too well the night before. I had been cold and restless all night. Adding to the discomfort, my throat was a little sore, and my nose was running. Oh, and I also had a slight headache. Ugh.

It seemed I had just fallen into a decent state of unconciousness when the alarm went off at 5:45 a.m. Not surpisingly, I woke up cranky. I wanted to stay in bed. No choice, I had a race to run. So I relunctantly dragged myself out of bed and took a hot shower, hoping the warmth would help. It did, but only a little. I choked down a Clif Bar and a glass of milk, loaded up my bag, and got dressed for the run.

J-Ball showed up at 6:30 a.m., and we (Nell, J-Ball, and I) were en route to the American Airlines center. We avoided most of the exiting traffic by meandering through the streets of downtown Dallas. Whether this actually saved us any time is uncertain. But we were able to find a parking space on the street about three blocks from the finish line.

Originally, I had planned to catch up with Runner Susan and Just 1 2 Finish before the race to meet them and maybe snap a photo. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to plug Runner Susan's telephone number into my cell phone. Alas. It was probably for the best, though, as we had about 30 minutes until the race start.

While J-Ball made some phone calls, Nell and I made our way to the AA Center and hit the restrooms one last time before the run. By the time we were through the line and back outside, the race announcer informed us that we had 5 minutes until the start. Perfect.

J-Ball met back up with us, the gun sounded, and 2 minutes later we were crossing the starting line. I felt the start was more crowded than the Marine Corps start. And--here's a quick rant--I get very annoyed by two things at a race:

(1) Huge groups of runners running side by side so that there is absolutely no way you can get around or through them. I understand if you want to run with your friends. That's fine. But don't block the entire roadway. Run in a group, not a wall.

(2) Runners with headphones jacked up so loud that they can't hear anything around them. It's fine if you want to listen to your music when you run. What's not cool is blasting the tunes at a level where you are completely oblivious to everything else around you.

Okay, back to the race report.

Nell was running the first leg of the relay (along with her team, which consisted of my dad, Shana, M., and E.), and her goal was to keep up with J-Ball and me. We were running about 9:00 per mile, maybe a little faster. Nell did great! She stayed with us through the first 6 miles like champ.

After Nell handed off the "baton" to my dad, J-Ball and I continued on, running somewhat together. By that I mean we had agreed to each run our own race, and if our paces lined up, that was cool. But we weren't purposefully trying to stay together, and there were no obligations to do so. Most of the time J-Ball was a few paces in front of me, although for a few miles before entering White Rock lake, he soared ahead and out of sight.

As with Marine Corps, my goal was to run steady and strong, but to never feel like I was pushing it. I kept general tabs on my pace but wasn't wearing a watch. I felt pretty good, but my right hip kept bugging me. Not enough to slow me down, but enough to cause minor concern. Thankfully, it never became an issue.

J-Ball started fading after the park and around the Dolly Parton hills. About mile 21, he told me he needed to back off the pace and encouraged me to go ahead. I bid him farewell and wished him luck.

Around the same time, I started matching pace with a guy wearing an A&M shirt. I had on my Texas Longhorn gear. This combination of in-state collegiate running rivals spurred the neighborhood crowds to cheer us on with greater enthusiasm. We traded off the lead several times for the next few miles, until he surged ahead around mile 23. (I later passed him about halfway through mile 24 and beat him to finish line. Go Horns!)

The next couple of miles were standard. Keep moving, keep your pace, you're close but not quite close enough to start getting excited. And then I hit mile 25 and was informed of the gun time. It had been 3 hours, 52 minutes, 49 seconds since the official start. I knew I would make it under 4 hours with my chip, but I suddenly wanted to cross the finish line with the race clock still showing 3 hours. So I started to pick it up. Much to my surprise--and delight--I was able to move. Really move. I ran that last mile in 6 minutes, 43 seconds. Holy crap. That's fast. I crossed the finish line at 3:59:26. Later, I checked my chip time and discovered I had run the race in 3:57:00, or 9:02 per mile. A new PR.

After I picking up my finisher's medal and t-shirt, I waited for J-Ball to come through. While standing there, I glanced to my right and noticed a guy who looked vaguely familiar. "Hey," I asked, "you wouldn't happen to be 'Just 1 2 Finish,' would you?" The guy smiled, "Yeah." I introduced myself and asked him how his race went. He had met his goal and run under 4 hours. "Congrats, buddy." "Thanks." Small world.

Pictures to come....

Sunday, December 10, 2006

White Rock results: 3:57:00. New PR!
It's 6 a.m. Two hours until the White Rock. It's cold. I'm cold. My nose is running. My throat has a tickle. I am not particularly thrilled about running a marathon. Race report to come....

Saturday, December 09, 2006

It's awfully early (4:45 a.m.) and for some unknown reason, I'm awake. I first stirred a bit after 4 a.m. When sleep didn't return, I gave in, got up, and started reading my newest purchase from Half Price Books, "The Sex Lives of Cannibals." Something tells me a post-White Rock expo nap is in my future.

Despite my prior statements to the contrary, I ran 3 miles last night. The hip soreness is better, but--and this may be only in my mind--there may be something lingering just under the surface. For better or worse, I'll find out tomorrow.

Friday, December 08, 2006

On Wednesday, I argued before the Court of Appeals for the first time. It was an interesting experience. I got about 20 seconds into my presentation, and then spent the next 15 minutes answering a barrage of questions for the 3-judge panel. It was invigorating. Gotta do more of these.

I haven't run since Tuesday when my hip soreness reared its ugly head during a very short run. Instead, I've lifted weights and spent a good deal of time stretching. (And I hate stretching.) But with White Rock on Sunday, I'm doing whatever I can to ensure a decent run.

Speaking of running, we are officially booked for the Mardi Gras marathon. We got a great deal on flights and cashed in some Amex rewards for our hotel. It will be good to visit New Orleans again. We haven't been since Mardi Gras 2005.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

"There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. A man must constantly exceed his level."

-Bruce Lee
Training is unique to each individual. Some are gear hounds, with heart rate monitors, GPS trackers, and sport watches. Some just hit the pavement sans equipment. As for me, I’m somewhere in between. On most runs, I grab the $4.98 Target brand watch I picked up a year ago, slap it on my wrist, and hit the start/stop button. That’s the only objective measure of performance I use. Subjectively, I rate each run by how I feel. But I always upload my runs to the computer, so I can track my pace and distance.

When it comes to training programs, I read voraciously, checking out blogs, websites, magazines, and listservs. But other than ensuring that I stick to my long runs, I’m not too rigid with my plan.

Since I started running longer distances in 2001, I’ve completed 7 marathons (with two more set for the next couple of months), dozens of half marathons, and countless multiple-hour training runs. This summer, I picked up cycling, and rode the Hotter than Hell in August.

I like endurance because it’s simple. You put in the training, and you can do it. That’s it. The competition, unless you’re one of the elite, is personal. It’s you trying to best yourself. You put one leg in front of the other and go. You have to be committed. You go to bed at 9:00 p.m. on a Friday night so you can get up at 4:45 a.m. to run the following morning. You (try) to limit your indulgences. But ultimately, it's yourself you have to answer to.

I don’t really know the point of this post. Maybe it has something do with the idea of running a 50K. And the dream of running a 50 or 100 miler someday. Right now the 50K seems doable, but the further distances are unfathomable. I suppose everyone has to start somewhere. You just put one foot in front of the other.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

I ran a quick 10.3 miles yesterday afternoon (8:39 per mile). It was a bright, sunny afternoon, but the wind kept it cool and in the low 40s. But now I've got a slight tightness in my right hip. Um... let's all hope it dissipates soon.

After the run, I made the weekly trip to the grocery store and decided to pick up some dinner at one of my favorite eateries -- Luby's!

Damn, I love me some Luby's. That square, fried fish they make is so good. For some inexplicable reason, Nell strongly dislikes Luby's. She's missing out.

During my tasty dinner, I caught the end of the UCLA/USC game. Good stuff. I'm not a fan of the Trojans. Maybe it has something to do with all the talk of USC's unstoppable dominance preceding last year's National Championship game. Enjoyably, VY and the squad stuck it to 'em. If only he was still wearing burnt orange....

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Last night, I mapped out my training plan. White Rock is next week, and the Mardi Gras Marathon is February 25. What's next? That'd be the Waco 5-0, a 50K trail race halfway between Cowtown and Austin.

50K? 31 miles? Trails?
Yes, all new things. Could be brilliant or disastrous. Whichever way it goes, it'll be an experience. And after that? Delusions of grandeur... a 50 miler, perhaps?

Turning back to the present, I'll be on my own for the day. Nell, currently yoga'ing, has a hair appointment followed by a wedding photo shoot. Today's agenda has me going for a 10-12 mile run, followed by errands galore. As the Legendary Adam H would say, "Yip. Dip. Doo."

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