Sunday, December 30, 2007

I took Ezra on his first run ever today, and he did great! We jogged 4 miles around the neighborhood, and then walked around the block to cool down. He didn't even break a sweat--this kid's got Marathon Maniac written all over him!

Friday, December 28, 2007

I just added up the entry fees for the various races I plan to enter in 2008. $705! Holy sh*t.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

I just finished reading "No Country for Old Men" by Cormac McCarthy. I picked it up from the library because the movie interested me, and I wanted to read the book before seeing the film. If the Coen brothers stay true to McCarthy's vision (which reviews of the film say they have), then the motion picture will be brutally violent, dark, and powerful. I'd never read anything by McCarthy before "No Country for Old Men," but after completing the novel, I went straight to the library to check out another of his books. There is a rhythm to his prose that I haven't experienced with any other authors. I felt like I wasn't reading his words; rather, I was hearing them or feeling them. For some strange reason, McCarthy's stark, minimalist style also reminded me of running an ultra event.

Friday, December 21, 2007

2007 by the Numbers
6 Marathons (Mardi Gras, Big D, OKCity, Andy Payne, San Francisco, White Rock)
2 Ultramarathons (Waco - 50 km and Ultracentric - 53 miles)
1 Endurance Ride (Cow Creek Country Classic - 78 miles)

What's on tap for 2008?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Since White Rock, I've been taking it easy. I ran 10 miles on a teadmill last weekend (so I could watch football). And I am going for a 20 mile run Saturday or Sunday. But I haven't been pushing it. Pace isn't a concern. Just some lazy, long miles.

Well, now Bandera is 2 weeks away. 50 km of rocks, roots, hills, cacti, streams. Sound like fun? Not convinced? Well, take a look at some pictures of the actual course from the Bandera website:

Anybody wanna come play?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

White Rock 07 was an interesting marathon. (Check out photos here.)

It started the night before, when Nell, Ezra, and I hunkered down in the spare bedroom at my parents' place. Nell and I were both running on Sunday, and someone had to watch Ezra during the race. Nanna and Pop (the self-appointed granparent names of my mom and dad) are always ideal, but they were attending a party the night before the run, and Pop was also running the White Rock relay. So we opted to stay at their house so Nanna could watch Ezra the following day (thereby eliminating the need to wake up ridiculously early to drop Ezra off before the race).

At 6:30 a.m., Pop and I slinked into the car and made our way through the cold, rainy morning en route to Dallas. We were part of a relay team consisting of 5 runners, each covering 5-6 miles. The full marathon was sold out, so I planned to run the entire relay along with my relay team, matching my pace with each team member. Officially, I was supposed to cover a 5 mile stretch around White Rock lake. Unofficially, I intended to run 26.2. Renegade style, amigos.

I dropped Pop off at the 1st relay exchange and then drove back toward the American Airlines Center. Traffic wasn't too bad, and I had made arrangements to park at Poolie's office near the West End. I met Jballs at the office, and we began the quarter-mile walk to the starting line.

Of course, we were late.

The race began right on time, but we didn't make it to the start for another 5-6 minutes. The race officials looked us a little funny as we sauntered casusally toward the timing mats.

"You guys running the half marathon? It starts in an hour."

"No, we're here for the marathon."

"You sure? You know it already started? Started at eight."

"Yep, we're just running late."

"Well, I guess you can go ahead."

Gee, thanks.

We trudged along for about half a mile before running into the rest of the runners. Zig-zagging our way through race walkers and joggers, we cruised through Turtle Creek and towards the first relay exchange located at the 10 km point.

Based on our late start, we figured that V., the relay team member handling the initial leg, had already handed off to Donaldo, who intended to run around 12-14 minutes per mile. So the plan was to continue running until we caught up with him, at which point we would match his pace. But 2 miles after the relay exchange, we still haven't caught him.

What gives? Did we miscalculate? Was he ahead of us? Or had we zoomed based V. during the first leg of the relay, putting Donaldo behind us? Hmmmm... what to do? What to do?

As we contemplated our fate, we happened upon a group of marathon spectators attempting to deliver beer to the runners. It was 9:15 a.m. and we were 8 miles into a marathon. Why the hell not? Jballs and I each grabbed a cold Miller lite and, while we walked along and sipped our brew, lo and behold, Donaldo approached from behind us! Ah, the miracle of lager!

A couple miles later, we bid our companion farewell as we began the long, slow circumference of White Rock Lake.

At mile 13, I called Poolie and requested the she bring me an apple fritter.

At mile 15, we met up with M., who forced us to pick up the pace as we hurried out of the park and back into the neighborhoods.

At mile 20, Poolie handed me a Stabucks bag. My apple fritter? Nope, even better--an eclair! And, hey, look, it's some more folks handing out beer. Perfect! Suds and sugar.

As we approached the finish line, we were all smiles. Our time was slow (4:49:56), but it was a lot of fun. I got to run a marathon with my dad and sister... and M. and Jballs. And I got to have a couple of beers and eat a doughnut. Good times.

p.s. Nell finished her half marathon in 2:12:12--and she ran it three and a half months after giving birth to Ezra J!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I'm unofficially running the White Rock Marathon this Sunday. Officially, I'm part of a relay team (consisting of Donaldo, Poolie, M. and V.) and will be covering a 6-mile leg of the course. Unofficially, I'm runing the entire course along with the team. I'm planning to stick with the pace of each teammate, so some relay legs will be quick (M. runs 8:00-8:30 per mile) and some will be relaxed (Donaldo plans to keep it around 14:00-15:00 per mile). My guess is our overall time will be around 4 hours, 30 minutes.

Nell is also running. Three and a half months after giving birth to Ezra James, she'll be tackling the half marathon. Pretty impressive!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Since the Ultracentric, all sense of proportion has been lost. It was already disappearing during training for the race. After all, when the marathon distance is a normal weekend run, one's perception of exertion has definitely skewed. But now, having covered twice the marathon distance in a single outing, my perception of endurance (and what constitutes a long run) bears almost no resemeblance to what most folks would consider realistic.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

We all exhibit a certain amount of self-delusion when it comes to how the world sees us. And I know that I certainly have an idealized view of myself--who I want to be, as opposed to who I really am. It's difficult (and sometimes a bit painful) to compare one's self-image to reality.

So with one month left in 2007, how do I want to end the year?

Empathize more, criticize less.
Train smarter, not harder.
Drink less, eat healthier.
Express more gratitude, less entitlement.
Exercise more humility, less arrogance.
Be quicker to forgive, slower to blame.
Practice efficiency.
Give more compliments.
Offer to help more often.
Be more appreciative.

And on that note, it's time to load up the backpack and head out on 15-mile run.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy day after Thanksgiving!

So 5 days post-50 miles, and my legs feel completely fine. I ran 3 miles yesterday and 3 miles the day before that. No issues. No pain. I've run marathons and been hobbling around for a weeks. Less than 7 days removed from the Ultracentric, and I've got zero lingering soreness. Amazing.

Thinking about the Ultracentric, I thought I'd post what I ate the day I covered 53 total miles on foot. Enjoy.

Pre-race
1 cup of coffee
1 Clif Bar
1 Sausage and egg McMuffin
1 McDonald's hashbrown
1 Orange juice

During the race
Lots of water
Lots of Heed sports drink
Flat Coca-cola
10 Succeed! elecrolyte tabs
Multiple peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
1 Venti Cafe Mocha with whipped cream from Starbucks
1 hamburger with mustard
3 cup-sized servings of macaroni and cheese
1 cup-sized serving of red beans and rice
1 tortilla filled with black beans and rice
1 Snickers marathon bar
4 meatballs

Post-race
1 value-size Chic-Fil-A combo meal (chicken sandwich, large waffle fries, large Sprite)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

4 days after the Ultracentric, and my legs feel fine. Soreness, which was slight and never acute, is pretty much gone. I'm going for a short (3-4 mile) run later this morning.

So what's next for me?

Well, I'm joining Donaldo and Poolie for a 5K Turkey Trot tomorrow morning. Then I've got the White Rock marathon on December 9, followed a month later by Bandera. I'm going to try for the 100K at Bandera--although everything I've read about the race tells me that the 50K is much more realistic. We'll see.

Vaya con Dios, mis amigos.

p.s. Monday's Star-Telegram contained an article about Connie Gardner, the first place women's finisher (and second place overall) in the 24 hour race. Connie ran 145.26 miles--.04 short of the American women's record. Amazing.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Prerace prep with Ezra James...

The Ultracentric is a 2 mile out-and-back course on an asphalt road in Meadowmeare Park, Grapevine, Texas. There are several races going on at once--6 hour, 12 hour, 24 hour, and 48 hour. I opted for the 12 hour run with a goal of completing 50 miles in under 11 hours.

We woke up around 6 a.m. and made the 30 minute drive to Grapevine, stopping on the way for breakfast at McDonald's.

At 9 a.m., the airhorn sounded, and so began my day-long pursuit of relentless forward motion. I purposefully settled into a casual pace (around 10 minutes or so per mile plus walk breaks at the two aid stations).

The first 6 laps were pretty easy (12 total miles). Although it was warm, a nice breeze off the lake kept things manageable.

Around 11:30 a.m., I grabbed a hamburger and ate it on the run.

And then the sun came out. All the way out. 81 degrees out. In November. Ugh. I was caked in sweat and salt. Nasty stuff. I trudged along, racking up 28-30 total miles just after 2:00 p.m.

Around 2:30 p.m., Jason and M. showed up with Starbucks. I downed a venti Cafe Mocha for a nice caffeine boost.

A few hours later, Poolie joined me just as I hit 40 miles. After snacking on some macaroni and cheese and red beans and rice, we started up again.

4 miles later, Nell joined us. For a mile or so, Poolie, Nell, and I ran together, but Nell's pace was a bit too quick for me at that point, so I gave her the greenlight to go ahead while Poolie and I plowed through the last 6 miles.

Finally, at 10 hours, 27 minutes, 22 seconds, we (Poolie and I) crossed the timing mat. 50 miles. We'd made it.

I took a seat in a folding chair, ate some PB&J, and sipped a Coca Cola. I was content.

After 10 minutes or so, Donaldo arrived, and we (Poolie, Donaldo, and I) walked another 2 miles. Nell then joined us, and she and I walked another mile to bring the grand total up to 53.

So at the end of the day, I ran 50 miles in 10:27:22 and walked another 3 miles in 1:32:38. In total, I covered 53 miles in 11:59:39.

Waking up this morning, I anticipated being awfully sore. And while my legs are definitely fatigued, I don't feel too bad. In fact, I've felt worse after marathons or particularly hard training runs. I don't have any acute pain, just an overall, but slight, tiredness in my legs. Strange.

Before I get to excited, I'll see how tomorrow goes. It usually takes a couple days for it to sink in....

Ultracentric results:

50 miles. 10 hours, 27 minutes, 22 seconds. 12:32 per mile average pace.

After hitting 50 miles, I took a break to sit down and eat, and then walked another very slow 3 miles with Nell, Shana, Donaldo, and Jballs.

Full race report to come....

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Good morning. We're up feeding Ezra and sipping coffee. We'll be leaving for the Ultracentric in 45 minutes. The gravity of the event finally sunk in last night. Holy sh*t. 12 hours of running. Right now, it's 6:30 a.m. I'll still be running 15 hours from now. Let me say it again: HOLY SH*T.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Yesterday afternoon, after spending three days in front of jury in Brownwood, Texas, we obtained a unanimous verdict for our client. We were up against the former district attorney of Brown County--a 25-year trial veteran with excellent courtroom skills. And this was my first shot as lead counsel in a fairly large dispute for a significant firm client. Needless to say, life is good.

So what now?

Well, it's Friday morning, and I'll be visiting the office to catch up on e-mail and telephone messages--and to take a victory lap. I've also got to prepare for a substantial hearing Monday morning.

And then it's time to clear my head and get ready for the Ultracentric, a 12-hour run beginning at 9 a.m. tomorrow. Yes, 12 hours of running fun.
Admittedly, I'm now wishing I'd trained a little harder. Things were going great until I started having some Achilles pain near the end of September. I took off a couple of weeks and my last decently long run (more than 26 miles) was 6 weeks ago. We'll see how it goes. If you find yourself in Grapevine, Texas tomorrow, feel free to drop by Meadowmeare Park and say hello.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Over the past year, there have been several tragedies involving long distance running. As a result, I've been on the receiving end of dismissive comments and criticisms regarding my endurance efforts. But these condemnations overlook the fact that people who exercise and are fitter are LESS likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease and die suddenly than people who do not. The benefits of regular exercise deserve to be acknowledged--exercise is not dangerous, it's highly beneficial and that should never be forgotten.

Monday, November 05, 2007


Ezra James, my son and mascot, keeps me inspired as I train for the Ultracentric, a 12 hour-race taking place in Grapevine, Texas in a couple of weeks.

I'm running often, but keeping distances down. Since the two-week break to let the achilles rest, I've been trying to get my legs used to hitting the pavement -- especially since Ultracentric is run on a road course. So far, so good.

There's been a lot of online furor over two recent articles (check them out here and here) claiming that "America's competitive spirit has been wrecked by feel-good amateurs like Oprah whose only goal is to stagger across the finish line." Being a slower marathoner (usually running road marathons on the wrong side of 4 hours), I suppose I'm one of those slow-pokes the authors complain about. But, be that as it may, I found the articles pretty humorous. So to all those runners out there who are upset, just relax a bit. Go for a run.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The good news: I ran twice this weekend and my achilles feels fine.


The bad news: my legs are sore from my runs.


Taking off nearly 2 weeks from running appears to have done the trick as far as my aching achilles tendon goes. No soreness. But the break from running didn't go unnoticed by my quads.


Admittedly, I was a bit too excited about hitting the road again, and I stretched what was supposed to be a short 3 mile jog into an 8.5 mile run with some decent hills. I was stiff the next morning and took it a lot easier on a 4 mile run around the neighborhood.

So the next few weeks will involve lots of stretching and more running to get the legs ready for 12-hours of fun at the Ultracentric.

I.I.T.S., my friends.

On a different note, here's what one of those internet quizzes says about me:

You Are An ENTJ

The Executive

You are a natural leader - with confidence and strength that inspires others.
Driven to succeed, you are always looking for ways to gain, power, knowledge, and expertise.
Sometimes you aren't the most considerate person, especially to those who are a bit slow.
You are not easily intimidated - and you have a commanding, awe-inspiring presence.

In love, you hold high standards... for yourself, for your relationship, and for your significant other.
While it's easy for you to impress others, it's hard for you to find someone who impresses you.

At work, you are organized and good at delegating. You understand how to achieve goals.
You would make a great CEO, entrepreneur, or consultant.

How you see yourself: Rational, calm, and objective

When other people don't get you, they see you as: Inflexible, controlling, and overbearing

Thursday, October 18, 2007

It's amazing what a smile can do.

My early fatherhood funk has faded. Ezra James and I are smiling and playing and singing. Life is good.

Also, my achilles tendon is feeling much better. I'm probably 90%-95% back to normal. I still haven't run in over a week, but I've been hitting the gym hard on cardio, and I even took the bike out last Sunday for a 20 mile ride. I'm going for an easy 4-6 mile run on Saturday. Very easy.

Friday, October 12, 2007

"Thinking that carbs make you fat is wrong," says CHRIS CARMICHAEL, founder and head coach of Carmichael Training Systems. "You're fat because you're not exercising. To simply blame a food type for being fat is bullshit."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

After the debacle in Chicago last weekend, is the future of the mega-marathon in jeopardy? Probably not. But should it be? 45,000 runners is insane. Absolutely, utterly insane. Complaints about the heat aside—and while hot and humid, it wasn’t that hot and humid (especially compared to the 26+ mile training runs I’ve been logging in the Texas heat this summer)—45,000 runners is just too many. Way too many. It sounds miserable. I can’t imagine what the starting line was like in Chicago. Just lining up the runners must be a gargantuan chore.

I’ve run some big marathons (e.g., NYC, Marine Corps, San Francisco), but nothing on the scale of the Chicago Marathon. And even in those big marathons, the RDs adopted wave starts, which helped alleviate the early congestion. (San Francisco in particular did a fantastic job with numerous wave starts based on predicted finish times.)

Personally, my interests are shifting further from the big-city marathons to smaller, more intimate events. My two favorite races of the past year were the Waco 5-0 and the Andy Payne Memorial Marathon—both of which had less than 100 runners going the distance.

Speaking of smaller events, I wonder how many folks will be at my next run, the Ultracentric. (The Ultracentric is a timed-event around a 2.4 mile loop course. I will be going for 12 hours, trying to get at least 50 miles in the time.)

My training for the Ultracentric was great, consisting of several marathon distance runs around west Fort Worth in the early morning hours.

Until last week.

On Saturday morning, I started out a little before 6 a.m. from the house, but after only a few miles, I began to notice a slight discomfort in my left Achilles tendon. I stopped, walked a bit, did some stretches, and then resumed running. Same issue, but now it was moving from discomfort to mild paid. Damn. After 7 miles, I decided it was best to call it a day. I walked back home, hoping that it was only temporary.

But when I went for a 4 mile run yesterday, the pain lingered. Not too bad, but enough to cause concern.

I’m 5 weeks from the Ultracentric, and I’m taking the next week and a half off from all running. I’ll bike and lift weights, but that’s it. Hopefully, the Achilles will heal and all will be fine for the run in mid-November. It’s not too painful, and based on my Internet research, whatever mild damage may have occurred should work itself out soon.

Keep your fingers crossed, folks.

Friday, October 05, 2007

After work, I relived a bit of El Scorcho, running 2 laps around the 5 km course. It was warm and humid, but an enjoyable run at a decent pace (8:30 per mile).

Tomorrow morning, I've got a 28 mile training run scheduled. Ultracentric looms closer on the calendar, and I'm almost to the peak of the training schedule. The taper will be nice.

Oh, and on a non-running related note, I predict a Texas win tomorrow over Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry. My theory: everyone (and I mean everyone) is picking Texas to lose--and lose big--so OU will be overconfident, Texas will be out to prove something, and the stars will align for a Longhorn upset. That's all I've got.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Before Ezra was born, people used to tell me all the time, "you're going to love being a dad."

They must have been referring to later in the child's life.

Ezra is difficult. Right now, my son is only a month old. He doesn't smile, he can't focus or look me in the eyes, and the only comfort he appears to exhibit is when eating or sleeping. He cries, he doesn't sleep at opportune times, he is often inconsolable. Being a dad is hard. It is frustrating. It is full of repeated feelings of ineffectualness.

I am told I will look back on these times in Ezra's life with fondness.

I doubt it.

At this point, I'm looking forward to a couple months from now, when (according to the many baby books and websites I have perused as of late) Ezra will begin to interact in a more positive fashion. Perhaps then my frustration will be tempered with a bit more joy.

Until then, I do my best to hug and kiss and sing to my son. I feed him when he's hungry and bathe him when he's dirty and change his diapers when he... well, you know....

I do love the little guy a lot. That's what keeps me going. That and my wife, who I love more than ever and who continually amazes me.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Life is moving quickly and in many different directions these days.

First, there’s Ezra, my son. My new son. 4 weeks old today. He’s a strange, sweet addition to our lives who has become the center of everything we do. Everyday brings something new.

Second, there’s work. Busy, busy work. Upcoming trials. Lots of out-of-office hearings, depositions, meetings. I should have no trouble making up the hours lost immediately after Ezra’s birth.

Third, there’s running. Lots of running. Marathon-plus distance long runs every other week. Only running 4 days a week, I’m averaging nearly 40 miles per week. While that may not touch most serious ultrarunners, it’s a lot for me. The 12-hour Ultracentric run is 7 weeks away. 12 hours is a long time to run. Especially in 2.4 circles. What fun it will be!

Those are the biggies these days. There’s more going on, or going by, or flying by.

Oh, and go Longhorns!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

"Brick walls are there for a reason. They let us prove how badly we want things."
-- Dr. Randy Pausch

This story published in today's Wall Street Journal really got me.

*****

MOVING ON
By JEFF ZASLOW
A Beloved Professor Delivers
The Lecture of a Lifetime

Randy Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon University computer-science professor, was about to give a lecture Tuesday afternoon, but before he said a word, he received a standing ovation from 400 students and colleagues.

He motioned to them to sit down. "Make me earn it," he said.

What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? For Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch, the question isn't rhetorical -- he's dying of cancer. They had come to see him give what was billed as his "last lecture."

This is a common title for talks on college campuses today. Schools such as Stanford and the University of Alabama have mounted "Last Lecture Series," in which top professors are asked to think deeply about what matters to them and to give hypothetical final talks. For the audience, the question to be mulled is this: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance?

It can be an intriguing hour, watching healthy professors consider their demise and ruminate over subjects dear to them. At the University of Northern Iowa, instructor Penny O'Connor recently titled her lecture "Get Over Yourself." At Cornell, Ellis Hanson, who teaches a course titled "Desire," spoke about sex and technology.

At Carnegie Mellon, however, Dr. Pausch's speech was more than just an academic exercise. The 46-year-old father of three has pancreatic cancer and expects to live for just a few months. His lecture, using images on a giant screen, turned out to be a rollicking and riveting journey through the lessons of his life.

He began by showing his CT scans, revealing 10 tumors on his liver. But after that, he talked about living. If anyone expected him to be morose, he said, "I'm sorry to disappoint you." He then dropped to the floor and did one-handed pushups.

Clicking through photos of himself as a boy, he talked about his childhood dreams: to win giant stuffed animals at carnivals, to walk in zero gravity, to design Disney rides, to write a World Book entry. By adulthood, he had achieved each goal. As proof, he had students carry out all the huge stuffed animals he'd won in his life, which he gave to audience members. After all, he doesn't need them anymore.

He paid tribute to his techie background. "I've experienced a deathbed conversion," he said, smiling. "I just bought a Macintosh."

Flashing his rejection letters on the screen, he talked about setbacks in his career, repeating: "Brick walls are there for a reason. They let us prove how badly we want things." He encouraged us to be patient with others. "Wait long enough, and people will surprise and impress you." After showing photos of his childhood bedroom, decorated with mathematical notations he'd drawn on the walls, he said: "If your kids want to paint their bedrooms, as a favor to me, let 'em do it."

While displaying photos of his bosses and students over the years, he said that helping others fulfill their dreams is even more fun than achieving your own. He talked of requiring his students to create videogames without sex and violence. "You'd be surprised how many 19-year-old boys run out of ideas when you take those possibilities away," he said, but they all rose to the challenge.

He also saluted his parents, who let him make his childhood bedroom his domain, even if his wall etchings hurt the home's resale value. He knew his mom was proud of him when he got his Ph.D, he said, despite how she'd introduce him: "This is my son. He's a doctor, but not the kind who helps people."

He then spoke about his legacy. Considered one of the nation's foremost teachers of videogame and virtual-reality technology, he helped develop "Alice," a Carnegie Mellon software project that allows people to easily create 3-D animations. It had one million downloads in the past year, and usage is expected to soar.

"Like Moses, I get to see the Promised Land, but I don't get to step foot in it," Dr. Pausch said. "That's OK. I will live on in Alice."

Many people have given last speeches without realizing it. The day before he was killed, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke prophetically: "Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place." He talked of how he had seen the Promised Land, even though "I may not get there with you."

Dr. Pausch's lecture, in the same way, became a call to his colleagues and students to go on without him and do great things. But he was also addressing those closer to his heart.

Near the end of his talk, he had a cake brought out for his wife, whose birthday was the day before. As she cried and they embraced on stage, the audience sang "Happy Birthday," many wiping away their own tears.

Dr. Pausch's speech was taped so his children, ages 5, 2 and 1, can watch it when they're older. His last words in his last lecture were simple: "This was for my kids." Then those of us in the audience rose for one last standing ovation.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Yesterday was a big day for me. I ran a marathon... as a training run.

I woke up with Ezra at 3:11 a.m., downed coffee and breakfast, filled my hydration pack, and hit the road. 4 hours, 24 minutes later, I had run 26.3 miles.

It was serenely enjoyable running throughout west Fort Worth in the pre-dawn darkness. No cars on the road, no humans in sight.

After leaving my neighborhood, I jogged along edge of Westover Hills before turning onto Camp Bowie Boulevard towards Hulen. I cruised through Tanglewood and down University Drive through the middle of TCU's campus. I buzzed the edge of Colonial Country Club and then took the Trinity Trail to downtown, where I circled the silent buildings in quiet placidity. As the sun finally began to rise, I made my way back onto the trail and followed it along the river behind Rockwood Park and Greenwood Memorial Cemetery. A few joggers and running clubs were stirring as I trudged up Hidden Road toward Rivercrest Country Club. A mile and a half later, I was home.

Today, I feel great. I'm going for a walk around the block with Nell and Ezra in a bit, then I'm going for an easy 4 miles.

It's pretty amazing to realize that a marathon, which used to be the ultimate goal, has now become a training run.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

When does the routine begin? There's no rhyme or reason to Ezra's nocturnal schedule. Sometimes, he'll sleep for hours, sometimes he's wide awake nearly the entire night. Nell is amazing and has infinite patience (the virtue I am lacking in extremes). Sleep is a precious commodity that I took for granted.

And now the zombie must shave, put on a suit, and do the law thing. Rubs eyes, drinks extra strong coffee, yawns.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

So here's one I hadn't planned on. An 8:30 p.m. bedtime. Yep. Last night, I had Inn of Court and arrived home a little after eight o'clock. I immediately took a shower and got in bed.

Why so early? Planning, my friends. Good, sound planning.

Two and a half hours later, Ezra's sweet, shrill cry alerted me to his need for food and companionship. But all was good because as unlike previous nighttime encounters, I was rested and ready to tend to his needs.

Much as they do in the military, I have adopted the sleep when you can philosophy. Now knowing that for at least the next couple months (hopefully not much longer) Ezra won't be snoozing for more than a few hours at a time (and usually only an hour and a half), we've decided to go with his biological clock. So it's all about sleeping 2 hours here, an hour and a half there. If you add them all up, we're getting 4-6 hours or so a night, which is less than norm, but definitely doable.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

4:40 a.m. I tried to get in bed at 9:00 p.m. Ezra wasn't having any of it. And he was stiring around midnight and again around 2:30 a.m. Now I'm drinking my extra strong coffee and preparing for my first attempted long run since becoming a dad. I'm sleepy already. Bonzai!!!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

So sitting around the house hanging with Ezra has given me a good deal of time to reflect. Mind wandering. Meditating. That sort of thing. I've been having random thoughts about all sorts of subjects, and I've been meaning to write them down when I had some downtime.
Well, Ezra J. is taking a nap (which will provide him with the energy to party late into the night), so I'm taking advantage of the opportunity to put pen to paper (so to speak).

First, it's still odd to think of myself as a "dad." Ezra is this amazing little creature who now completely absorbs our lives (in a good way), and I still have trouble believing he is ours. In the back of my mind, it all seems temporary, like a vacation. As if next week when I return to work, our lives will go back to normal. Normal is now Ezra and our family.

Second, I've been thinking a lot about patience, or my lack thereof. I've found myself getting frustrated at my inability to immediately calm my new son. Ezra requires patience. Babies take time. Solutions aren't readily apparent. (I do think that my long distance running has helped, but I've got a long way to go.) I'm trying to be better.

Third, speaking of running, I've come to the conclusion that I'm an exercise junkie. (Shocker.) I took two days off from all exercise for Ezra's birthday last Friday. By Sunday morning, I was jonsein' for an endorphin hit. So while Nell and Ezra slept, I drove the car from the hospital to the house, changed into my running gear, and ran from home back to the hospital. It wasn't a very long run, but it helped. I ran again Tuesday and twice yesterday. I don't know how far I'm going to this weekend, but it'll be at least a couple of hours. I'm planning to leave when Ezra gets up for his early morning feeding.

Fourth, I'm glad Texas didn't go the way of Michigan. And from what I can gather (I didn't watch the game), Arkansas State was close to pulling the upset.

Fifth, football on HD TV is awesome. I've only watched bits of pieces of the NFL preseason, but wow. Looking forward to tonight's game between the Saints and the Colts.

That's it for now. Adios, amigos.
I'm sleepy. Ezra James' schedule and my schedule aren't exactly in lock step. He's living the college life. Sleeping in, staying up late, going to bed after last call. It's an adjustment to say the least. I'm already completely revamping my Ultracentric training schedule. There's no way I'm doing a 26-mile long run on Saturday. With the lack of sleep I'm getting, I'd be exhausted and worthless the rest of the day--and the parent of a one week old kiddo simply cannot be exhausted and worthless.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Ezra James Valdez was born Friday, August 31, 2007 at 6:37 p.m. He weighed 8 lbs even and was 21 inches long. He's a healthy little guy who really enjoys eating, sleeping, and pooping.

Nell is amazing. She impresses me every minute. Our family is doing great.
Life is very, very good.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I've noticed that my running times have gotten much slower.

A year ago, I was training to break the 4-hour marathon barrier. I was keeping a long run pace of 9 minutes per mile or better and running my shorter distances at 8:00-8:30 per mile. And it must've been a good training plan, because I finished two marathons (Marine Corps and White Rock) in under 4 hours.

But now, distance--not speed--is the goal.

The past few weekends, I've been leaving the house around 5 a.m. for 20+ mile treks around west Fort Worth. My average pace on these long runs has been around 10:30 per mile. Granted, the Texas temperatures have been hovering around a very steamy 100 degrees--and my pace includes time spent stopping at the local convenience store to refuel on Gatorade and water--but 90 seconds per mile is a pretty big drop off.

Oh well. Hopefully these long, slow jogs will come in handy in November when I'm going to be running in circles for 12 hours straight at the Ultracentric.

(Still no baby....)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Still no baby. 39 and 1/2 weeks and counting. Any day now.


In the meantime, my new coffee maker arrived and it is AMAZING. When I was in San Fran last month for the marathon, my friend Rachelle made me some French press coffee. I thought it was really good, so I got online to find a decent French press. Somehow, I stumbled upon an article about the Aeropress. Invented by the same guy who created the Aerobie frisbee, the Aeropress uses air pressure to brew the coffee. I started checking out reviews, and everything I read was positive. So I ordered one. Good call. Very good call.

Seriously. If you like coffee, buy an Aeropress.

Friday, August 24, 2007

No baby yet, but this did arrive yesterday...

I'm looking forward to watching UT football games with my son on my new HD TV this fall.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Here's a little running commentary (pun intended) and then some random thoughts.

I got up at 4:30 a.m. yesterday and left the house a little after 5 a.m. for a 24 mile run. It was cooler than it had been (in the low 80s when I started and the low-90s when I finished), but the humidity was brutal. I ran the first 10-12 miles alone, then met up with Jballs for 5-6 miles before finishing up solo. I sucked down my hydration pack with 10K left, so I had to stop at a gas station and pick up a water and a Gatorade. It was a slow run--took me longer than a marathon normally would--but I figure the heat and the humidity took their toll. I'm feeling pretty good now. I've got an easy 6 miler on the schedule for today.

Now, onto different subjects...

Nell has made it to full term. The official due date is September 2, but it could be any day now. Everytime Nell calls me at work, I think, "this is it!" Maybe soon.

I'm planning to take at least a full week off work when my son is born, so I've been trying to finish up outstanding projects, avoid taking on new work, and making sure I've got everything else covered by other attorneys. It's kind of nice.

Oh, and I think I may buy an acoustic guitar this afternoon. I've never owned one. Always borrowed my dad's guitar or a friend's. I want music to be a part of my son's life. I have great memories of sitting on my bed as a young kid singing along with my dad and his guitar. We've got a piano, and I play it often, but I want a nice guitar that I can take into his (my son's) room. As much as I loathe Guitar Center (it's like buying a musical instrument from a used car salesman), they're running another one of their weekend blowouts, and they've got a good selection.

Finally, we saw "Superbad" last night. It had some very funny scenes and the potential to be a really good flick, but too much of the movie was weighed down with crude jokes that eventually lost their shock value and their humor. It was enjoyable, but not as great as the critics are saying. The McLovin scenes alone were worth the cost of the ticket.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Here are a couple great quotes I recently stumbled onto at The Final Sprint:

“To succeed you have to believe in something with such a passion that it becomes a reality.”
- Anita Roddick

“The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare.”
- Juma Ikangaa
In the past two weeks, I have had exactly half of one beer. That's it. That's the only alcohol I've had. Now, don't get me wrong. I wasn't exactly a booze-hound until two weeks ago, but I did enjoy a cold one (or, admittedly, sometimes a few cold ones) after a long run, some yard work, or an afternoon on the golf course. And there's still nothing better than an ice cold Shiner Bock following several hours in the Texas heat. But maybe--just maybe--and I'm only guessing here--a bit more moderation was overdue. Hmmm...? And with baby-watch now at critical mass (Nell's pregnancy has now reached full term, so it can happen any day), crystal clear sobriety is probably even more recommended than ever before.

There are also some nice personal benefits as well. I feel great these days. (Much better than last week, when I was fighting a sadistic virus.) I'm running stronger, completing 20+ mile runs in wicked Texas heat with less fatigue. My gym workouts are more productive. And I've even dropped--get this--about 5 lbs. in the past two weeks.

So perhaps there's something to this...?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Yesterday's 20 miles in 100 degree heat was difficult. Pace was slow. Walk breaks were plentiful. It took 3 hours, 26 minutes--just under 11 minutes per mile (including a few stops to purchase extra Gatorade along the way).

After the run, I took an ice bath, showered, and headed to the golf course for 18 steamy holes. I collapsed soon after dinner, in bed by 9 p.m.

This morning, I got up at 5:45 a.m. for a 10 miler. Part of my new double-run training weekends to get me ready for the Ultracentric. Stiff legs, even slower pace. Jballs and I ran through downtown and at about the half-way point, we ducked into Starbucks for a caffeine jolt. I grabbed a tall cup of coffee, and we began to walk for a bit while I sipped the strong, aromatic joe. About a mile later, I finished my liquid crack, and we resumed plodding down 7th Street. Wow. What a difference caffeine makes. I still wasn't zooming, but my energy level had definetly jumped up a notch. I my legs felt much better.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Getting ready to head to the airport for one of those wonderful day-long trips to another city for a hearing. Sitting in a metal tube circulating the recycled air of 200 business travelers should do wonders for my recovery over this vile stomach/stuffy head/throat virus. (Note the sarcasm.) According to the schedule I put together for the Ultracentric, I'm supposed to run 20 tomorrow. We'll see how that goes after the flight.
At least my wife--37 weeks and counting--has wonderful taste in coffee mugs...

Thursday, August 09, 2007

You may be sick of hearing about me being sick, but so be it. I'm still not 100%. The stomach pains finally subsided late last night, and my throat is no longer killing me, but my nose is now completely stopped up. What the hell is this???

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Still sick. This stomach bug/sore throat (yes, the sore throat is back) sucks. Who gets a sore throat and stomach bug at the same time? Shouldn't they mutually exclusive?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Being sick sucks. Yesterday morning, I woke up with a sore throat. I drank tons of fluids throughout the day, sucked on zinc lozenges, and got to bed early. So now what? In addition to a sore throat (which is admittedly better than it was yesterday), I have some sort of stomach bug. And not just some little bug. We're talking about a pins and needles midsection pain kind of bug. So far today, I've had a piece of toast and 1/2 a glass of water. I've moved from the bed to the couch once. I am not happy right now. Ugh.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

How much better does it get than a long weekend in San Francisco for some relaxation, a marathon, and a baseball game?

I arrived in the foggy city last Friday evening. My law school friend, Rachelle, picked me up at airport and ushered me back to her place, where she had set me up in the downstairs bedroom. Still on central standard time, I crashed early by west coast standards, but it felt like 1:00 a.m. to me.

The next morning, after a tasty, home-cooked breakfast of eggs, bacon, and sourdough bread, we took Rachelle's two bulldogs, Bosco and Sofia, to Golden Gate Park for their weekly stroll. Rachelle took the long route so she could show me the ocean (and so we could get a cup of coffee at Java Beach).

The Park was enormous. I was told numerous times that it was the largest man-made park in America--but no one could clarify exactly what that meant. Once inside, we took the leashes off and let the dogs roam free.

After dropping some very tired bulldogs off at the house, Rachelle drove me to The Embarcadero for the race expo. On the way, we drove over to Twin Peaks, where I got a great view of the city below. It was windy and cold, not exactly what I was used to in late July.
At the expo, tents had been set up across from the piers and tons of fit folks were traversing the grounds, goodie bags in hand. I grabbed my race number, chip, and t-shirt and snuck out of the chaos. We grabbed a quick lunch at a bagel shop nearby, and then we sauntered through the shops on the pier, stopping to get some coconut sorbet. Good stuff.

(First, though, we stopped by the official race hotel to catch the end of Dean Karnazes' presentation. I've seen Dean speak before and ran a couple miles with him last year, and I am continually amazed at the ire he brings out in the ultra community--a community of which I am merely a lurker. I like Dean. Maybe he is as some claim--a "stunt" runner--but his book introduced me to the world beyond marathons and had I not read it, I doubt I would've run 7 marathons and a 50K over the last 9 months.)

What else to do? Well, we decided to catch a cable car because, hey, it's San Francisco and you've got to ride the cable car.
After my thrilling ride, we decided to head back home and grab an early dinner. I would have to get up at 4:00 a.m. to eat and make it to the race start on time. On the way back the house, we drove by the crooked street (can't think of the name of it), but didn't drive down it, as the line was excessive.

For dinner, we chowed down on some fantastic burritos from Taqueria El Farolito and caught a few innings of the Giants game before crashing.
I thought I might have trouble falling asleep and waking up so early, but I was still on Texas time. 4:00 a.m. felt like 6:00 a.m., and combined with Rachelle's uber-strong French-pressed coffee, I was ready to go. I put on my Texas flag-shorts, my El Scorcho t-shirt, and my cowboy hat (yep, I was that guy--the over-the-top Texas runner), and we were off to the starting line.

I met up with Jballs at the race site. He's in the air force reserves, and his annual 2 weeks of service just so happened to be at Travis Air Force Base, about 50 miles or so from San Fran. Why not run a marathon?

The San Francisco marathon uses a wave start to curtail the human traffic jams that inevitably occur on the out-and-back stretch of the Golden Gate Bridge. We optimistically opted for the 3:45-3:59 pace start. Yeah, right.

The run began with a jaunt towards Fisherman's Wharf and through the Presidio. It was cool and foggy. I had hoped the fog would dissipate before we reached the Golden Gate Bridge, but it was still pretty dense when we arrived for our pedestrian commute across the water. I had fun with the Marathonfoto folks along the bridge, jumping and posing for shots.

Back on the mainland, we made our way through several winding hills before entering Golden Gate Park. And so began many more hills. Jballs and I were walking most of the uphills and skip-running (something I learned in Waco) the downhill stretches.

We passed by the second 1/2 marathon staging area, where they were preparing to start. (The marathon offered two 1/2 marathons--you could run the 1st half or the 2nd half of the course.) Eventually, we were overrun (literally) by speedy 1/2 marathoners. I recall one of them shouting to another marathoner, "on your left!" The marathoner moved over, but then responded, "hey, I'm on mile 17, next time you can go around me!" So there.

Just before coming out of the park, we came upon some speakers playing a dance remake of "Heaven," the 1980s Bryan Adams tune. "Now that's what I need to pump me up," mused a sarcastic marathoner nearby. "A disco version of a Bryan Adams' love song." I found that humorous and for some reason began to sing along. Other joined in and before you knew it, there were about a dozen sweaty marathoners belting out, "baby you're all that I want! When I'm lying here in your arms! I'm finding it hard to believe... we're in heaven!" Classic.

Out of the park, we turned onto Haight Street. At last, a prolonged downhill stretch. Perhaps that's why this was one of my favorite spots of the race. Also, lots of folks had come out to cheer on the runners. Jballs and I picked up the pace and started cruising. That is until somewhere between miles 22 and 24, when we had a couple good-sized hills and also somehow missed seeing the mile 23 marker. Ugh. My legs were suddenly pretty heavy.

Eventually, we saw the ballpark ahead. The finish was very close. As we hit mile 25, Jballs glanced at his watch. "Dude, we need to pick it up if we're going to finish in 4:19." (I had predicted a 4:19 finish.) Ok. Guess we have to. No problem. I'm good. Uh, until, we rounded the promenade behind the ballpark and my left hamstring started to tighten. So close. Instead of slowing, I picked up the pace and lengthened my stride, which--believe it or not--actually helped. Passed the 26 mile marker, the crowds intensified. We started waving our arms to elicit more cheering. In a pretty good sprint and with our fists triumphantly in the air, we crossed the line in 4 hours, 19 minutes, 10 seconds.

Soon, we were met by Jballs' air force buddies and Rachelle, her mom, and the dogs. I snapped a great post-run picture with Bosco and Sofia, and Rachelle also got one of Jballs and me.
But we didn't have time to hang out for long--we had tickets to the Giants game! On our way to the car, we stopped and grabbed breakfast (an egg, sausage, and cheese quesadilla). Good stuff. At the house, I took my frigid but necessary ice bath before turning around and heading back downtown.
The Giants game was great. Perfect weather. I had a root beer and some nachos and watched Barry Bonds strike out, ground out, pop-out, and finally get on base with an error. No records were broken and the Giants lost, but it was still a fantastic time and a wonderful way to wind up the weekend.

Monday, July 30, 2007

San Francisco Marathon results: 4 hrs, 19 mins, 10 secs. Full race report to come.

In the meantime, here's something pretty cool. The day before the marathon, I sent an e-mail to my friend Michael. Here's what it said:

Placing any bets on finishing times, Michael?
I predict a 4:19 finish for me.

Friday, July 27, 2007

I'm leaving in a few hours for San Francisco to run the marathon on Sunday. This will be my last official marathon for awhile, as I don't have any others scheduled until December. I plan to put in some training runs over 26.2 miles as I gear up for the 12-hour Ultracentric in November, but no "real" marathons. And late August/early September should bring the birth of my son, which will become a top priority for the next, say, 25 years or so.

Wow--by the time my son is my age, I'll be 60 years old.

Wow. Wow. Wow.
Last weekend, I spent a few days drinking beer and playing golf with Willis D., Josh, Rolo, and Matt in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas. (I'm sure it was the best way to prepare for the San Francisco marathon this weekend.) Here are some pics:
El Scorcho RD's Report: Part Four

After the runners had taken off on lap one, we had about 15 minutes or so to get our bearings before they made their way back around. I spent about 5-10 minutes being interviewed by a reporter with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram about El Scorcho.

And then I received a panicked call on my walkie-talkie.

"We're just about out of water at aid station two!"

A mad scramble ensued where we tried to get in touch with David, our official water volunteer, to ensure that he was on top of it. (The park did not have a good water source, so we had assigned a volunteer to pick up water jugs from the aid stations and take them to my house--a few miles away--to fill them up throughout the night as needed.) Naturally, David was one of the few volunteers without a walkie-talkie. So Jballs got on the cell phone and found David--who was already on top of things.

I spent the next hour and a half running around like a chicken with my head cutoff. More water... toilet paper for the porta-potties... 350 pounds of ice... post-race bbq and pasta.... As things happened, we dealt with them.

Greg Maschal, the 25K winner, crossed the finish line in 1:41:20. Absolutely smoking the course amid humid, sticky conditions. Ten minutes later, Megan Newsom became the first 25K female finisher with a time of 1:51:52. I recall announcing over the PA system that both runners were way too fast.

Around 3 a.m., Jballs and I decided to borrow David's truck and go for a water run. It was strange leaving the park--where so much activity was taking place--and entering the "real" world where most folks had long since retired for the evening.

We filled up 7 water jugs at my place and made our way back to the park just in time to catch the 50K winner, Steven Richard, claim his victory in 3:51:07. Laura Nelson, the female leader, crossed the tape in 4:28:43.

As more and more runners finished, the course began to quiet down. I decided to hop on my bike and ride the route backwards to check on runners and visit some of the volunteers. It was a great decision. Over the next two and half hours, I circled the 3.1 mile loop. I got a completely different sense of the run and what the runners and volunteers were going through. The runners still on the course had been going for more than 5 hours since the midnight start. Fatigue was setting in, but they were gutting it out. It was inspiring. They trudged along throughout the night, gritty and determined.

At the same time, the volunteers were incredible. We had chosen to donate all profits from El Scorcho to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, so Team in Training had gotten on board to provide us race volunteers. (Team In Training is the world's largest endurance sports training program. The program provides training to run or walk a whole or half marathon or participate in a triathlon or century bike ride in honor of blood cancer patients and survivors.) The TNT folks were cheering, excited. I even had one runner ask if we had "liquored up" the volunteers to increase their enthusiasm! Throughout the night, their devotion to the runners never wavered. As the sun was coming up, we decided to let several of the volunteers go home, especially those who were out to help guide runners along the dark course. They all chose to stay until the end.

"We've bonded with these runners," one volunteer told me. "We know each of them as they come by and we're not leaving until they finish."

Fantastic, unbelievable, and inspirational.
The last official runner crossed the line in 7 hours, 43 minutes. The sun was shining. The city was stirring. Runners and bikers, oblivious to our midnight run, were making their way to the park for a morning workout.

As we folded up the aid station tables and loaded up the last of the trash, I took in a deep breath. We'd done it. We'd pulled it off. It felt great.

Just as I was getting into my car to head home, one of the last runners hollered at me from the parking lot, "Hey! When's next year's El Scorcho?"

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

El Scorcho RD's Report: Part Three About 11:55 p.m., I made an announcement over the PA system asking the runners to make their way to the starting line. Once the herd of anxious athletes was ready, Coach Jim gave some advice (start slow, stay hydrated, watch your electrolyte intake) while I awaited my chance to get the run underway. Jballs got set up on the bike to lead the runner out.

With the megaphone in hand, I decided to give the group a friendly greeting:

"You're all officially nuts!" Some laughter and applause. "Thank you all for coming out to run circles around the park while the sensible world is sleeping comfortably in their beds! Thanks to our foreign visitors for making this the first annual international El Scorcho!"

"Are you ready?!"

Some cheers.

"ARE YOU READY?!?!?!"

More, louder, more enthusiastic cheering.

"On your mark... get set... GO!!!!! GO!!!!! GO!!!!"
The gun fired and the runners were off. Lap one was underway. El Scorcho had begun.

To be continued....

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