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.


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