Friday, December 26, 2008

Five pounds.

That's how much body fat I've lost in 6 weeks with Dave. Five pounds. 3/4 of an inch off my waist, 1 inch off my chest, and little off my arms. (Legs stayed constant.)

All I can say is...


The ass-kicking workouts, the sweat-drenched slogs home, the aching muscles--WORTH EVERY MINUTE.

Over the past several years, I've felt like I was in pretty good shape, but (other than long distance running), I'd plateaued. I suppose it is good that my weight has remained more or less constant for the past 6 years, but, despite lots of running and consistent (but purposeless) weight training, I hadn't seen any gains in my physique.

6 weeks with The Body Firm and I've lost five pounds of body fat. Measured. Quantified. Verifiable. FIVE POUNDS. Holy sh*t.

And the measurements came at the end of the worst week of the year for eating. A sampling of my menu over the past several days:

  • Tuesday lunch: Chicken fried steak, gravy, mashed potatoes, butter-drenched "veggies"
  • Tuesday dinner: Cocktails, fried calamari, garlic butter bread, veal, pasta
  • Wednesday breakfast: Sausage and cheese bread, breakfast casserole
  • Wednesday dinner: Beers, jalapeno and cheese tamales
  • Thursday breakfast: New Orleans breakfast casserole (spicy sausage, Canadian bacon, smoked sausage, eggs, cheese, french bread crumbs, and other goodies), blueberry pankcakes, bacon
  • Thursday dinner: Homemade macaroni and cheese, olive-oil infused finger potatoes, brown-and-serve rolls, and beef tenderloin (2 servings... of couse)

So despite blowing the doors off any semblance of healthy eating, I still passed the body-fat-caliper-and-scale test.

What does it mean?

A good trainer is worth his weight in gold.

Or at least body fat lost.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Check out this photo from the Dallas Observer's Unfair Park Blog.*

Notice anything about this dude's singlet?

Hmmm... could it be...?

Yes, yes, I think it is....

That's a singlet from El Scorcho Dos, the 25k/50k midnight run Jballs, James, Jim, and I put on in July!

So... is this good or bad advertising for El Scorcho?

*Thanks, Kevin, for alerting me to the photo by posting it on your blog.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Congrats to everyone who finished the 2008 White Rock Marathon. From what I've heard, it was a difficult day on the course with temperatures in the 70s and high winds with gusts of 20+ miles per hour. My heart goes out to the friends and family of Erin Lahr.

Reading my buddy Kevin's report reminded me of my 2005 meltdown in Dallas. I sent Kevin an e-mail after the race and, although personally-directed towards him and his efforts to break the four-hour marathon barrier, part of it seems general enough to paraphrase here.

As I was discussing my own failed (but ultimately inadvertently successful) year-long attempt to break the four-hour barrier, I noted how much my running enjoyment has improved since I started running distances beyond 26.2 miles. Rather than push for faster times, I've slowed down my pace but have increased the distances I cover on foot. Personally, it has been much more natural to concentrate on going farther as opposed to going faster. And I haven't had a running-related injury (other than a blister than I got at the 12.5 mile mark at Sunmart, and that didn't hurt my finish at all for the remaining 37.5 miles) since easing off the accelerator about a year and a half ago.

I'm at the point in my running these days where I'd rather finish with a slower time, but feel good during and after the run. I love being able to run 50 miles on a Saturday and feel good enough for a short jog (3-4 miles) on Monday with little or no discomfort. For me, that's ten times better than trying to qualify for Boston but being forced to deal with Achilles issues, shin splints, and cramps. Comfort on the long run has become a bigger accomplishment that speed.

But, ironically, my marathon times have improved. I can easily run 4:10 or better without thinking about it. And on at least 3 occasions* over the past two years, I've finished a marathon in under 4 hours, despite not really focusing on speed.** And, again, I haven't run a marathon since the 2005 White Rock where I've had any real discomfort.***

So what does it all mean? I don't know. I guess I just felt like running.

* 2006 Marine Corps, 2006 White Rock, 2008 Big D.

** Okay, that's a half-truth. I probably start pushing it around mile 20 when I realize that sub-4 is within my grasp; but I never set out to run that time.

** Admittedly, "discomfort" is a relative term. Perhaps I've just become accustomed to the punishment of running long distances.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Bandera 100 km is 4 weeks away. To get us ready to run the toughest trail race in Texas,* the race directors sent us an e-mail about our upcoming trek through rugged hill country. Here are some excerpts:

Welcome (Back) to Bandera,

We are gearing up for the 7th annual Gathering of the Tribes (ie: a trail run party) in the Hill Country State Natural Area near the Cowboy Capitol of Texas (Bandera).
. . .
It is out intention to help you get to the finish line. Oh, it won't be easy, but we will do the best we can to help you along.
. . .
Any rude or unwarranted behavior to my volunteers will get you booted out of the race and maybe every race I direct. I will place Whiner's Time Out Boxes here and there, so maybe if you are having a really bad day, maybe you should put yourself in for a time out.
. . .
The course is rugged, rocky, and difficult--as it was intended to be. I made this course as difficult as I could, while using the parks trail system.
. . .
There is a mat ONLY at the finish line and it is used only for finishing and the end of lap one for the 100km runners. we do not need you to cross the mat at the start. We dont care if you start an hour late. Your time starts at 7:30am regardless. We do not extrapolate the difference to be used as a Boston Qualifier. Boston would not understand.
. . .
The weather in Bandera is as would be expected, unpredictable. It has been very hot and quite cold, and sometimes both in the same race.... A rainy day in Bandera is the worst weather. The mud is pretty bad on the flats when it is wet and the rocks are very slippery. We have had a few very nice years, but who knows.
. . .
Anyway... you are in & thanks for coming. We look forward to seeing all of you.
joe & joyce

Sound like fun?

* The claim that Bandera is the "tougest trail race in Texas" has been confirmed by numerous sources including, among others, a guy I've never met who is a member of the Hill Country Trail Runners, Wikipedia, and me.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ever have one of those workouts where you collapse on the floor of the gym in a pile of sweat?

Well, I hadn't until yesterday.

Thanks, Dave.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Didn't I just run 54 miles a few weeks ago? Whose idea was it to schedule another 50 mile run? We reap what we sow, friends. Thankfully, the crop yield was sufficient.

I arrived in Huntsville, Texas last Friday afternoon wondering if I was ready for round two of The Quad. I checked into the EconoLodge (which lived up to its name), dropped off my overnight bag, and began the vile commute to the Houston airport to pick up my race packet. Apparently, rush hour begins around 2:00 p.m. in Harris County.

After my white-knuckle drive through Conroe, Spring, and The Woodlands, I was relieved that packet pickup was so easy. And the swag. Wow. Sunmart hooks you up. I got a very nice gym bag, a long sleeve technical shirt, a runners hat, sunglasses, gloves, some sort of Body Glide-type product, a nail kit, a journal, a stuffed animal, a poncho, and a polo shirt. Impressive.

I opted to get skip the pasta dinner and got back to Huntsville around 5:45 p.m. My stomach led me to El Chico, where my pre-race meal consisted of chicken fajitas and lots of water. I laid out my gear for the morning, and turned the lights out by 8:30 p.m.

It would appear that one must carry/wear a lot of stuff to run 50 miles:
I woke up at 5:00 a.m., suited up, and drove to IHOP for my traditional pre-long run breakfast of eggs, toast, and bacon. I chatted with a couple other runners who had also chosen to start the day off right with a hearty meal.

At 6:15 a.m., I arrived at Huntsville State Park and was truly astonished at the number of folks milling about. I had not expected to see hundreds of runners at the event.

After securing a nice spot for my drop bag, I ran into Mark, a speedy Welshman who is also going for the Texas Trilogy. We chatted for a few minutes before the start, and he asked me if I had any time goals. "Nah, but I'm guessing it will be somewhere between ten and ten and a half hours," I said. Quite prophetic.

The speedy Welshman (Mark) and me at the starting line:
A little past 7 a.m., the air horn sounded, and we were off. The weather was perfect--low 30s at the start, warming up to low 60s by mid-afternoon. Things looked good.

Sunmart consists of four 12.5 mile loops throughout the park and around Lake Raven. Because of Sunmart’s reputation of being a premier trail run in the United States, the I.A.U.(International Association for Ultrarunners) had elected to hold the I.A.U. Trail World Challenge at the race. So, I was well-prepared to get lapped several times.

Morning fog off Lake Raven during the first 12.5 loop:
Attempting to look cool and tough on the first loop (and failing miserably at both):
I hooked up with a tall, goateed dude named Bill early during the first loop. Bill is a two-time Ironman finisher and badass triathlete. Sunmart was his first trail run and first time to go farther than 26.2 miles. Welcome to the party, amigo.

Bill and I finished the first loop in about 2 hours, 31 minutes, which felt like a good pace. Unfortunately, however, I discovered a pretty nasty blister already beginning to form on the outside of my right big toe. I told Bill to keep moving while I tended to my (potentially debilitating) minor injury, liberally appling Body Glide to my toe (and the rest of my feet). After changing socks, I motored on.

The second loop took me a bit longer to finish, somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 hours and 40 minutes. My toe was hurting a bit, but I didn't want to take my shoe off. Out of sight, out of mind. Keeping my head in the sand. Maybe not the best strategy, but, hey, what choice did I have? I was going to ignore it unless and until it crippled me.

My spirits got a lift when I met up with Bill again. Pretty soon, we also running with Miles, a buddy I've run with in Waco. The three of us gutted out loop three, but it wasn't pretty. Quite a bit of walking, and nobody was too enthused about another loop. My toe was throbbing, my quads were aching, my shoulders hurt. I was tired and spent. We finished the third loop in 2 hours and 45 minutes, just 30 minutes before the 3:30 p.m. cutoff. (If you haven't started your fourth and final loop by 3:30 p.m., you're done.)

With about as much excitement as an NPR broadcast, we trudged along slowly. The three of us figured that if we could at least walk 3 miles per hour, we could finish under the 7:00 p.m. limit.

As the sun started to descend, however, something strange happened. I started feeling good. Really GOOD. Maybe it was knowing that this was the final loop and that every step was bringing me closer to the end, but for whatever reason, the pain in my toe suddenly subsided and legs felt fresh.

I actually started running, even some of the uphills. I could see Bill and Miles were still struggling a bit, and I didn't want to leave them hanging, but they gave me permission to cruise along.

And so I did. I don't know what the hell happened, but I ran that last loop in 2 hours and 24 minutes--faster than ANY of the previous loops. Heck, I even sprinted the last couple hundred yards. I felt FANTASTIC. It was awesome.

My final time was 10 hours, 24 minutes, 18 seconds. Good enough for 93rd place overall, and 7th in my division (males 30-34).
After crossing the finish line, I was presented with a cup of cold water, a finisher's medal, and a very cool finisher's jacket. (Seriously, the swag for this race is incredible.)
And then I was ushered to the food tent, where I was given my choice of brisket, smoked turkey legs, hotdogs, hamburgers, macaroni and cheese, sodas, gatorade, iced tea--you name it. (Who are the folks running this race? They are amazing!)

I ate my chow and waited for Bill and Miles to finish. We had run too far together for me to just take off. And soon enough, there they were.
The Three Amigos (Bill, me, and Miles) after 50 miles:
Oh, and the blister? Well, it wasn't too bad. Back at the hotel, I finally peeled off the shoes that hadn't been removed for 37.5 miles (since discovering the issues with the toe). So just in case you were wondering, here you go.

One down, two to go for the Texas Trilogy, and half-way through The Quad.

Next up, Bandera. Ugh.

Quick Sunmart 50 mile results (full report to come)

Finishing time: 10 hours, 24 minutes, 18 seconds.
Pace: 12 minutes, 29 seconds per mile.
Overall place: 93rd.
Sex Place: 67th .
Division (M 30-34): 7th.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Get a trainer. Seriously. A good trainer makes a world of difference.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Yesterday, Jballs and I ran 14 miles, then Nell, Ezra, and I headed to Mansfield to snack on turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, Waldorf salad, sweet potato pie, and various pies. Yum.
Today, I made it to the gym around 10:30 a.m. for a hellish, Dave Fannin-inspired workout. 45 minutes later, I was drenched with sweat and ready to collapse.

The Body Firm continues to kick my ass (in a good way).

Oh, and I did a headstand on Turkey day.

Friday, November 21, 2008

12-hour Ultracentric Report
I arrived in McKinney, Texas about an hour and a half before the start of the 2008 Ultracentric. It was cold with strong winds. I caught a shuttle from the local junior high school to Erwin Park, where I would spend the next 12 hours running an approxmate 1.15 loop countless times.

The first thing I noticed was the sizeable hill leading to start/finish line. For a course advertised as being fairly flat, this seemed a bit out of place. I would later discover that the every loop included a 70 foot climb, resulting in 3,748 feet gained over the course of the day.

As I waited to pick up my race packet, I began chatting with, Darrell and Missy, a couple from Arizone. Like me Darrell would be running the 12-hour race; Missy was going for 24 hours. (Darrell would go on to win the 12-hour event with 59.109 miles.)
After snagging our chips, the three of us set up our base camps near each other not too far from the runner aid station.

Around 9 a.m., we lined up near the start, awaiting the countdown to begin our endless ramble. As I looked around, I was suprised at how few runners there appeared to be. Last year's run seemed much better attended. Perhaps the down economy and the new location had discouraged folks to come out.
There were, however, a couple elite runners I recongized from Ultrarunning magazine, namely, Scott Jurek and Nikki Kimball. Both were attempting to break the 24-hour records of 162.46 and 145.287 miles, respectively.

As far as race reports go, Ultracentric doesn't offer much in the way of a thrilling narrative. I mean, it's 1.15 miles. That's it. Over... and over... and over again....

At 11 a.m., I put in the headphones and listened to the Texas Longhorns throttle the Kansas Jayhawks 35-7. The game was a nice three and a half hour distraction.

Sometime after the football game ended, I learned that Jurek and Kimball had both dropped from the race, citing the aforementioned 70-foot climb and the course camber as reasons. Both apparently felt that the records were unattainable on this year's course and did not want to risk injury.

Jurek's base camp wasn't too far from mine, and he hung out for a couple hours after dropping. I chatted with him several times as I passed by, and I was quite impressed with how personable and encouraging he was. Everytime I stopped to snag something out of my drop bag, he asked if I needed any help. And everytime I departed for another loop, he enthusiatically told me to "go get 'er done!"

This is one of the things I love about ultrarunning events. You get to interact with the top athletes, and they generally always have kind words to say to the rest of us ordinary running junkies.

Donaldo (my dad) arrived a little before 3 p.m. to walk for 6 hours. Since last year's Bandera, Donaldo has joined me for numerous endurance events and has participated in the Waco 1-0 and this year's Ultracentric.

As the sun went down, I was greeted by Dave and Tracy Fannin and their kids. They had come out to encourage me toward the end of the race. Seeing them out there was a huge morale boost. Dave was the consummate trainer, asking if I needed anything, wanting updates on how I was feeling.

Around 7 p.m., I hooked up with fellow Marathon Maniac, Steve Grady, who was running the 6-hour race. Over the next couple hours, we gutted out the miles.

Just before 9 p.m., we finished out final loop. I was tired, but not completely spent. The next day, my legs were a little sore, but not too bad. By Tuesday, I felt completely fine. That's a good sign. Training seems to be working.

Final stats -- 54.473 miles. 4th place overall.

One down, three to go. The Quad continues....

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Official Ultracentric results haven't yet made it online, and I lost count during my 12-hours of endlessly running a 1.15 mile loop, but my best guess is somewhere around 55 miles. Details to come....

Saturday, November 15, 2008

5:30 am. The 12-hour Ultracentric begins in three and half hours. And I'm sick. Not completely delibitated, but sick nonetheless. Yesterday, we learned that Ezra has an ear infection, pink eye, and a mild case of bronchitis. (Damn, you daycare!) He's on three medications, including a breathing treatment that he absolutely HATES. Poor little dude. And I'm afraid all the hugs and kisses and dad time with my boy may have caused some germs to jump ship and begin taking potshots at my immune system. We'll see how things go today.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Tomorrow is Leg 1 of The Quad.

Training began in the blistering hot summer months with 3:30 a.m. runs throughout Fort Worth.

And here we go with the 12-hour Ultracentric.

Monday, November 10, 2008

One thing I'm enjoying about working out with Dave Fannin is his no-nonsense approach. I've seen other trainers who spend a lot of time chit-chatting with their clients, taking long breaks between sets. With The Body Firm workout, once we start training, that is ALL we do. Dave is singularly focused on implementing an efficient, heart-pounding, sweat-drenching workout.

Today, we did more upper body work to give my legs a rest as a I taper into the first leg of The Quad, Saturday's 12-hour Ultracentric. Here's what we did:

Set One (3 times)
Machine incline press
Machine flat bench press
Seated v-position leg extension/crunch
Short jog

Set Two (3 times)
Standing curls-shoulder press
Front shoulder raises
Side shoulder raises
Decline push-ups
One leg extended crunches
Short jog

Set Three (3 times)
Seated lat pull
Seated row
Hanging knee raises
Short ellipitical

By the end, I was feeling it. It is humbling to be able to run 30+ miles, yet be sucking wind at the end of a 30 minute workout. Anybody who thinks they don't need to crosstrain is missing out.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Just before my first workout with Dave Fannin, I ran 3 miles, thinking I would want to be warmed up and ready to go. Probably unnecessary.

One word to describe The Body Firm workout:


No breaks. One exercise to the next. Constant movement. Lots of stabilizing core work. Dave kept things at a brisk pace, never letting my heart rate sag. And lots of sweat.

Assuming my memory is correct, I think this is what we did (with my own names for each exercise since I don't know the correct ones):

Set One (3 times)
Push ups - 20 reps
Standing resistance band row - 20 reps
Standing squats - 20 reps

Set Two (3 times)
Step-up weighted curls - 20 reps
Machine bench press - 15 reps
Crunches - 25 reps
Short jog

Set Three (2 times)
Standing machine, slight bent row - 20 reps
Lat pulls - 15 reps

Set Four (3 times)
One-legged setup lunges - 20 reps (each leg)
Standing mountain climbers - as many with good form in 1 minute
Plank hold - 30 seconds
Short jog

Set Five (3 times)
Weighted squat/shoulder press - 20 reps
Wide-hand push ups - 20 reps

According to Dave, the real results will kick in 6 weeks from now, about the time I hit Huntsville for the second race of "The Quad" and the first of the "Texas Trilogy."
It's been a week and a half since I began weaning myself off the magical coffee bean (and all other sources of caffeine, the greatest drug of all time).

Yes, I miss it's intoxicating aroma and the euphoric lift it provided to my mornings, but, unlike my previous attempt to eliminate liquid crack from my diet, I have been able to persevere with minimal crankiness. (Or so I like to believe.)

Why the change? Why remove something so small that provides such an enormous benefit (especially after I've had a late night at work followed by an early morning with Ezra)?

Yes, tolerance.

But not the type that is so often hyped in the media. No, I am speaking of my physical tolerance to Arabica, Sumatra, and Seattle Mountain Blend.

With "The Quad" rapidly approaching (the first event, the 12-hour Ultracentric, is a week from tomorrow) and the reality of running races each lasting between 12 and 30 hours straight, caffeine is likely to be a necessary nutritional (?) component of race day. After running from sun up to sundown, a nice, tasty shot of espresso may be just what is needed to keep the motor running and the mind (relatively) sharp. To maximize its effect, I've been working to eliminate caffeine from my daily routine in the hopes that when I do require a hit of java, it truly does HIT--and with a pleasant, speed-demon bang.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Yesterday, Ezra and I headed out for a 4 mile, pre-work jog through the neighborhood and were immediately joined by an exuberant yellow lab. The dog ran with us the entire way, even following us into our backyard. I called the number on his collar and was connected to a veterinarian's office, where I was given another number for the pooch's owner. The owner was a pleasant-sound lady who explained that she and her husband had recently moved in across the street. She told me she was out-of-town, but her husband was at the house. So, I walked "Miller" (I had since learned the canine's name) to my new neighbors' home where I was greeted by a gruff, "WAIT A MINUTE!" Hmmmm.... The door was yanked open, and a half-awake dude said, "What do you want?" "I've got your dog." "Hmph! I don't how the hell he got out!" The dude then grabbed his dog by the collar and shut the door on me. Nice way to introduce yourself to the neighborhood. But Miller was a pretty cool dog.

Monday, November 03, 2008

We spent this past weekend in Mansfield with my grandmother while my folks were in New York City cheering on Poolie (my sister) during the marathon. Saturday morning, I got up early and jogged to the neighborhood where I grew up in south Arlington. Here are some pics.

My old street.

Our house. My bedroom window is on the front right.
While there, I met the current owners of our prior home and learned that the house across the street had become a meth lab that was raided by the police. Holy crap!
Oh, and I also stopped by Mr. T's, the local convenience store where I routinely squandered my allowance on candy and magazines. Still the same 20+ years later.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Earlier this morning, I met with The Body Firm's owner, Dave Fannin (that's him on the left), for a fitness assessment as we gear up for The Quad.* It's always a bit awkward having someone pinch your fat and measure your arms, chest, stomach, and calves. And it's even more humbling to discover that, despite running many, many miles, I have 20% body fat. Too much pizza and beer, I guess.

Next up, we tweak my crosstraining to maximize my running potential.

* For those of you who happened to stumble upon the blog and have no idea what The Quad is, welcome. The Quad is a series of four ultramarathons that I will be attempting to complete between November 2008 and February 2009. Specifically, The Quad consists of the 12-hour Ultracentric, the Sumart 50 mile run, the Bandera 100 km run, and the Rocky Raccoon 100 mile run. And yes, I may be certifiably insane.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

It was a fun weekend.

Saturday morning, I put in 28 miles around west Fort Worth. Jballs joined me for about 10 miles or so. Nice to see him. He works too much.

28 miles in the bank and still smiling.

After the run, I enjoyed* an ice bath. With a rubber ducky (courtesy of Ezra).

Yeah, it's friggin' cold.
Sunday morning, Nell and I headed to Waco so she could run the Miracle Match 1/2 Marathon. I was there for support (and maybe to run a few miles). Getting ready to run 13.1 miles.
Nell and I hooked up a few miles into her 1/2 marathon, and we ran 10 miles together, taking a couple pictures of each other along the way.

Oh, and of utmost importance, the Texas Longhorns escaped in Austin to hang onto their #1 ranking!!!

*Hated and persevered.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Good times at the Friends of the River run last night. I left the house about 45 minutes before the beginning of the race for a 4.6 mile jog to the starting line, where I met up with Nell and Ezra. Although we've run together many times, this was our first "family race." Ezra was restless at the start--he wanted to be on the move. We let him walk around a little bit, but we limited his distance in light of the decent crowd of runners milling about. It was a fun evening and the food at the post-race party was top notch. We had some pizza, pulled pork sandwiches, catfish, hush puppies, empenadas, smoked sausage, banana pudding, fish tacos, quesadillas, hummus--hmmm... maybe that's why I went to bed so full. They trick you with bite-size portions; if you eat enough of them, you'll stuff yourself (as I definetly did).I haven't run in a race less than marathon distance in years. I kind of have an issue with value and cost per mile--hard to justify spending $20+ on a 5 km or 10 km when I can just head out my door and run 20 miles for free. Plus, I don't like the huge crowds at smaller races. I think part of what has drawn me more and more toward ultras is the low key nature of the events.
But Friends of the River was a fun run with the family, and it supports the Trinity Trails, where I've logged hundreds and hundreds of miles since moving to Fort Worth. I will probably do it again next year.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I'm participating in the Party in the Village 3.4 run this evening. My plan is to leave the house a bit early and jog to the start to get 8 miles total for the day. I'll be heading down Lancaster Avenue to the Trinity Trails under the University bridge and coming into race headquarters from the back. The plan is to meet up with Nell and Ezra and run the official race as a family. I'll be wearing a shirt from The Body Firm, so feel free to say hello.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I came across this bumper sticker recently and it made me smile, especially in light of my upcoming 28 mile training run.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I love the fall. Winter, not so much. Cool is good; cold is, well, cold. What can I say. I'm a Texas guy.

I met up with Jballs around 6 am for a 10 km up and down 7th Street and once around El Scorcho's loop.

It was dark the entire time, and as much as I enjoyed running before daybreak, I am looking forward to rolling the clock back an hour in a few weeks.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I am stoked, amigos.
I have a sponsor!!!

As I prepare for "The Quad" (12-hour Ultracentric, 50 mile Sunmart, 100 km Bandera, 100 mile Rocky Raccoon), I will be working with Dave Fannin and the folks at The Body Firm on a nutrition/cross-training program to complement the miles and miles I put in every week around Fort Worth.
If you happen to see me running along the Trinity Trails, feel free to stop by and chat. I'll let you know how things are going.
And I'll be out there a lot. I ran 26.2 miles before work on Friday and another 8 miles this afternoon. I've got long runs the next month going up to 30+ miles, so you can pretty much guarantee I'll be out there for several hours.

Life is good, my friends.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

p.p.s. I ran a 5K in 21:38 (6:58 per mile) today. Considering I don't really do any speed training, I was pleasantly surprised.

p.p.p.s. My hamstrings are a bit tight now.
Nothing much to post. Still enjoying the post-Red River Rivalry high and Texas' #1 ranking.

Lots of running on the agenda.

Keep smiling, friends.

p.s. Thanks for the TX-OU tickets, Pappy!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Texas knocks off zero U!!!!!!

Poolie (my little sister) and I spent yesterday at the State Fair of Texas watching our beloved #5-ranked Longhorns take down the #1-ranked Sooners in the best TX-OU matchup in recent memory. Great day, my friends. Great day.

Enjoying an 8 a.m. corny dog and beer breakfast with Big Tex:
Amongst the sea of burnt orange:
Relishing the Horns 35-45 victory over zero U:

Saturday, October 11, 2008

No long runs today, amigos. Instead, I'll be having a beer and a corny dog for breakfast as I prepare myself, mentally and physically, for the 11 a.m. kickoff of the Texas-OU game. Priorities are important. Look for me on the 12th row in the corner of the end zone. I'll be the guy wearing burnt orange. Go Horns!!!!

Friday, October 10, 2008

David Goggins is a machine.

An absolute endurance beast.

Last year, he won the 48-hour Ultracentric, and his "base camp" was just a few yards from mine (I was running the 12-hour race). Every few laps, I noticed his wife rubbing a block of ice on one of his quads. I later learned that Goggins had torn a muscle, and he was using the ice to completely numb his thigh so he could continue to run.

Earlier this year, the dude won McNaughton, a 150 mile race, by nearly 3 hours.

Now, I hear he is going to parachute to the start of the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii this Saturday. The dude is the definition of hardcore.

But, hey, I'm no slouch, either. I got up at 3:45 a.m. this morning to get in a 20 mile run before work. So there, Goggins.*

*Mr. Goggins, if you happen to come across this post and read my concluding paragraph, I am expressly noting my self-deprecating sarcasm. Please do not crush me.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Interesting weekend. Sunday morning, I ran a marathon. Nothing official, just 26.2 miles around west Fort Worth. Miles 11-20 were spent pushing Ezra in the jogging stroller. He napped for about an hour, which didn't really seem fair. After the run, I hopped in an ice bath and headed to brunch with the family at Mac's on 7th. Very, very good. Later that day, I played 9 holes of golf and split 1/2 a pizza with my bride before collapsing in exhaustion. A good, full day.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Good morning, Fort Worth. A few nice things happened to me yesterday.
First, I benched pressed 205 pounds a few times, which was surprising because I had not used a bench press in several months.
Second, the Longhorns routed the Buffs, setting up a huge game next week against Oklahoma.
Third, and most importantly, Ezra loved chowing down on one of my homemade burgers for dinner.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The reality of running 100 miles 4 months from now still hasn’t sunk in. I don’t know if it ever will until race day arrives, and I’m in the midst of the battle.

Last weekend, I nearly ran a marathon on Saturday, took a shower, played 18 holes of golf, and then watched college football. The following day, I did a 90-minute spinning class. Not too long ago, a marathon would cripple me for a week or more. Now, it’s just another long training run, and I’m still feeling good enough to enjoy a normal Saturday.

I’m pleased with the way my running ability has progressed, but 100 miles is still unfathomable. My mind has trouble grasping the concept of running for 24 hours (or more likely, 24 hours plus).

My two 50 mile attempts left me exhausted; what will twice the distance do to me?

And am I really training enough?

Other than my long run, I don’t feel like I’m fully engaged in preparing for Rocky Raccoon (or Bandera, for that matter).

I need to commit fully to this.

I should probably run more. Or should I? I don’t know. It’s hard to know what will work and what won’t. How long should my longest run be? How much cross-training should I do? Should I change my diet?

It’s all one big experiment, and I won’t know the results until February 7-8, 2009.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

I've been meaning to do this for awhile, so here it is. A non-exhaustive list of cities where I've run, subject to updates and revisions:

Hot Springs Village, Arkansas

San Francisco, California

Washington, D.C.

Miami, Florida
Pensacola, Florida

New Orleans, Louisiana

Grand Lake, Oklahoma
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Cancun, Mexico
Cozumel, Mexico

New York City, New York

Lake Lucerne, Switerland

Arlington, Texas
Austin, Texas
Bandera, Texas
Brownwood, Texas
Dallas, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Grapevine, Texas
Houston, Texas
Huntsville, Texas
Mansfield, Texas
Waco, Texas

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
25.7 miles yesterday. You'd think I could've sensed it and put in another 1/2 mile to give me a full marathon. Alas.

Later today, instead of a run, I'm going for a 75-minute spinning class. Time to sweat.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Foreshadowing? Yes, foreshadowing. That's what the preceding post was all about. How so? Could it be the dull ache in the back of my throat that is sure to fester into a full blown cold? How could it not be?

The vicious cycle continues....

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Day care sucks. Well, that's not exactly true. Day care is actually a pretty happy place. But the germs that fester in that petri dish suck. Since Ezra started attending several weeks ago, our family has been engaged in an ongoing fight against recurring and resilient illnesses. My immune system better kick it up a notch.

Despite a slight cough, I had a great run this morning. Jballs, my long lost running friend who has been sucked into the abyss of natural gas exploration and the exceedingly exorbitant work days it demands, actually met me for a 6 mile run around town. The cool temperature kept the pace brisk, and we ended up running an extra 1/2 mile. Both of us felt great after the run.

I've got 34 miles on the schedule this weekend (two runs--24 and 10), and I guess that's going to be the M.O. for the next 6 months.

"What did you do this weekend?"

"I ran."

"Seriously, what did you do?"

"Seriously: I ran."


Monday, September 22, 2008

Two weeks in a row, I've found myself with a stomach ache following my long run.

Unlike last week, however, this past Saturday took me down for the count. I'm fairly certain I caught a nasty bug of sorts that knocked for a loop for 30 hours.

I'm optimistic that the tummy pain is an anomaly, and I will be fine next week.

I guess we'll find out.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

How'd you spend your Friday evening?

Mine begin immediately after work, as I laced up my new Mizunos and headed out the door for a 22 mile run.

So there.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Posting is down. I apologize to both of my regular readers. Why have I allowed my online musings to lapse? Apathy. Laziness. I have no excuse. I will try to improve.

Following the New Orleans trip, I got a bit of a stomach flu, which sidelined last weekend’s long run. I made it 18 miles before throwing in the towel, and then promptly spent the rest of the day languishing in bed or on the couch, slurping cold chicken noodle soup, and whining unjustifiably about my tummy ache.

Monday, however, was joyous, but not for any reason remotely related to running. Quite the opposite. By 4:30 p.m., I was sipping a cold beer and enjoying a grilled bratwurst outside Texas Stadium as I prepared myself, mentally and physically, for one of modern man’s most magnificent marvels—Monday Night Football. And yes, my friends, we had seats on the FRONT ROW of the 40 yard line.
Paraphrasing Prince Akeem: “Oh sir, the Cowboys of Dallas took on the Eagles of Philadelphia. And in the end, the Cowboys triumphed by running into the zone of endings and then kicking an oblong ball made of pigskin through a big ‘H.’ It was a most ripping victory.”

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

It's been an interesting week and a half.

Last Monday, I kept an eye constantly on CNN and its ongoing coverage of New Orleans' battle against Hurricane Gustav.

The next day, I said a prayer of thanks that Mother Nature spared my former home.

That Wednesday, Nell and I were trying to decide whether or not to scrap our New Orleans vacation in light of Hurricane Gustav.

By Thursday, we had been unable to speak with anyone in New Orleans, and our hotel was purportedly closed.

On Friday morning, we boarded a half full airplane en route to the Crescent City, arriving to find the Big Easy quiet, but awake. We checked into the Renaissance Arts Hotel, which had been open since Wednesday, and made our way through the French Quarter toward Port of Call. Arriving just before noon, we were informed that the restaurant would be opening sometime "soon," as they were waiting for supplies to arrive. Twenty minutes later, we were chowing down on one of the world's greatest hamburgers.

Over the next couple of days, we ate and drank at Lucy's Retired Surfer Bar, Joey K's, Bluebird Cafe, NY Pizza, the Columns Hotel, La Cote Brasserie, and Jacques-Imo's. We visited Tulane and bought Ezra a t-shirt.

The city slowly came to life and by Sunday morning, tailgaters were sipping Bloody Mary's outside the Superdome in preparation of the Saints' season opener.

All in all, we had a marvelous time.

And I even got in a couple of runs through the Quarter, along the Mississippi, past the Garden District, and in and around Uptown.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Good *&!(@! morning!

There's nothing like jumping out of bed at 3:45 am on one of the rare mornings when sleeping in might actually be an option just for the opportunity to run 20 miles around west Fort Worth in the pre-dawn darkness in a futile effort to avoid the heat and humidity brought on by the late summer Texas sun.

I love* training.

* Hate.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Four random thoughts this Thursday morning....

1. I am getting excited about The Quad."The Quad," you say. "What the hell is The Quad?" Ah, you really don't know me and my penchant for nicknames, do you? Now that I have added the 12 hour Ultracentric to my list of big* runs this season, I am dubbing the four biggies** The Quad. It's important to name your enemy.

2. I am having unsettling deja vu these days when my thoughts stray to New Orleans. I love the Crescent City. Pray that Gustav spares my former hometown. The Big Easy has had enough tragedy in recent memory.

3. Ezra has taken great strides. Literally. The little dude decided to start walking a couple of weeks ago with a few tentative steps. Now, he's zooming around the house, albeit a bit Frankenstein-like. It's hard to believe he'll be one year old this Sunday.

4. This afternoon, my firm is hosting the Tarrant County Young Lawyers Association monthly happy hour at our new building. Apparently, the event has even been given a name: "Mojito Madness." I am only two days removed from the annual alcohol-soaked, golfing gluttony in Arkansas with the guys. I am not looking forward to this soiree, regardless of its winning use of alliteration.

* I now define a "big" run as anything beyond 50 km. Because, hey, it makes me feel like a badass.

** The four biggies include the 12 hour Ultracentric, the Sunmart 50 mile, the Bandera 50 km, and the Rocky Raccoon 100 mile.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

San Antonio is out, Ultracentric is in.

Just returned from the annual golf trip. Three and a half days of doing absolutely NOTHING healthy. Good times, but I feel like I gained ten pounds (which I might have).

Serious training starts NOW.

Oh, and I might have a sponsor. No details until it's finalized, but things are looking good.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

True statement*: This blog is not political.

In any event, I awoke this morning to learn that Barack Obama has selected Joe Biden as his running mate.

I met Joe Biden several years ago in New Orleans. Biden's daughter was an undergraduate student at Tulane, where I was attending law school at the time. Biden, an attorney, spoke to my Constitutional Law class. I don't remember the subject matter of his speech (although I'm willing to bet it had something to do with the Constitution), but I recall thinking, "Wow, that guy is one slick politician."

So there you go.

And now I'm off to Hot Springs Village for the annual weekend of golfing, drinking, and not running** with the guys. I'm actually a little sad I won't see Nell and Ezra for a few days.


* Not necessarily a true statement.
** I might run....

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It looks like the Ultracentric will replace the San Antonio Rock and Roll Marathon. Nell has decided to run a 1/2 marathon in Waco in October instead of San Antonio in November. I had planned to run San Antonio with her, but now that we have that weekend free, I'm going to sign up for the 12 hour Ultracentric. We'll see this year's run compares to last year's attempt.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I came across Theresa's blog and had to repost her current musing on our chosen profession. It's the last line that elicited an audible chuckle.

Listen closely, little children: Don't go to law school. You'll die a miserable, mean person, even if you thought practicing law was about helping people. Atticus Finch is dead.

I'm back on FitDay. Our summer clerks are finally heading out, and it's a good thing because the past 6 weeks of big lunches, happy hours, and dinner parties have taken their toll. Combined with the heat and the lack of athletic challenges to motivate me to train harder, I feel a bit, um, how shall I put this... husky. I need to drop at least 10 pounds between now and The Trilogy, and I need to concentrate on eating healthier. I tend to eat well throughout the day, but I often screw it up by grazing on whatever is nearby once I get home from work. I'm not a believer in dieting, but I do know that forcing myself to track what I eat (and drink) will help keep me honest. In that regard, I am (again) posting a link to my FitDay diary, if you're interested in checking it out.*

Oh, and I got a new toy this week.

My BlackBerry finally crapped out on me, and the firm** gave me the option of getting another one or going for the iPhone.

I made the right choice. Apple's newest gadget is incredible. It lives up to the hype. I downloaded a GPS distance tracker to use on my runs and was amazed out how well it worked. The iPhone picked up the GPS signal immediately and never lost it, despite the fact that I stored the sucker in the back pocket of Ezra's jogging stroller. No line of sight. I have no idea how it kept an accurate signal, but it was dead on. Much better than the Garmin Forerunner that Jballs sometimes runs with. In addition, the phone is great, the internet is fast, and the overall functionality is intuitive and pretty much flawless. I highly recommend it.

Have a nice weekend, folks. Think of me Saturday morning when I'll be running 18 miles before the sun comes up.

* i.e., if you are extremely bored.
** Yep, just like that John Grisham novel. Except not really.

Friday, August 08, 2008

I meant to mention that last week, Nell and I check out Karnazes' movie about running 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 consecutive days. Karnazes is a controversial figure in the ultra world with folks either loving him or hating him. I tend to fall more into the former camp than the latter, although I am not as enamored as I once was. We both liked the film, and I especially enjoyed the scenes in which the wheels came off and the team had to scramble to keep things running logistically smoothly.

p.s. We had a cool front come through this week. The high on Wednesday was only 93 degrees. Woo hoo!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

It's official -- I am on the list for the Bandera 100 km and the Rocky Raccoon 100 mile. It's time to eat, breathe, and sleep running. Holy hell.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

North Texas is hot. Seriously, HOT. Really, really H-O-T.

It hit 108 yesterday. I got up at 4:30 a.m. to beat the heat, but 15 minutes into my 16 mile run, I passed a sign boldly declaring that the temperature had already reached 85 degrees.

This. Is. Unacceptable.

As I dragged my sweat-drenched, depleted, (literally*) dehydrated body back home 2 hours and 45 minutes later, I had to remind myself that swearing off all summer running wasn't the answer and that eventually cooler temperatures would return. But until they do, long runs are going to be rough. During the run, I drank 2 liters of water and several cups of Nuun, plus 2 S-Caps and a bag of Clif Bloks, and I chugged 32 ounces of my Gatorade/Protein post-run creation** immediately after finishing, but I was still downing water all day long. Couldn't get enough.

Oh, and not smart enough to stay inside for the rest of the day, I ventured out again at 2 p.m. to play 9 holes of golf.*** I went to bed at 8:30 p.m. last night.

6 miles this morning at 7:00 a.m. with Ezra was steamy, too. At least the little dude got to sleep for the last 2 miles as I pushed his rapidly growing, 23-pound frame up Hidden Road.
I need a nap.
Have a nice Sunday, amigos.

* Not literally.
** 1 scoop of Gatorade lemon lime powder mixed with 2 scoops of EAS protein in 32 ounces of water makes a somewhat dense citrus cream concoction that aids with recovery. Or so I tell myself. It's basically the poor man's Accelerade.
*** I also spent midday running errands around town, including a trip to Costco. Why, I ask, why???
**** Do you like the footnotes? They are new.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sunday, July 27, 2008

It's been a week since El Scorcho Dos, so I figured it's time for a few thoughts on year two of putting on a midnight ultrarun. From my vantage point as co-RD, this year's race went much smoother than the inaugural El Scorcho. Despite the fact that we doubled our field to 400 entrants, it was less organizationally-challenging because we had done it before. Our volunteers come almost exclusively from Team in Training, and they are hands-down the best folks in the world to staff a race. They are enthusiastic, dedicated, and, best of all, athletes themselves, so they know how to cater to the runners. We had more than 30 Team in Training volunteers that kept El Scorcho on track all night and into the morning. We will be making a nice donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society soon.

We did, however, have several DNFs and a few medical issues during the race. Unlike last year, it hadn't rained in weeks, and the mercury was high. Thankfully, no one suffered any serious injuries; mostly cramping and some nausea. We did have one lady who tripped and cut her lip. Dr. Herrera and his medical team responded like lightning and were able to tend to her immediately. As she was catching a ride to her car, I told her I was sorry she had fallen. She stopped me right away and said, "Don't apologize to me. I'm the one who is sorry. This is such a great race you guys put on. I just wish I could've kept running. I'll be back next year!"

I've been checking the internet for race recaps, and about 99% of what I have seen is positive. I've only come across three complaints.

First, a few folks were upset about having to park at Farrington Field as opposed to inside Trinity Park. Last year, we had problems with faster runners and 25K participants finishing earlier than the 50K entrants and driving through the park and across the course, sometimes right in front of runners who were still running. With twice as many entrants, we made the decision to keep the park completely closed to traffic, except for official race vehicles. We picked Farrington Field because it is big, has ample parking, and its back exit is a 1/4 mile from the main race pavilion--I know because Jballs and I clocked it with his GPS.

Second, a saw one person who was disappointed in the post-race food. We had pasta donated by Pizzeria Uno and bean and cheese burritos donated by Fuzzy's Taco Shop. The bean and cheese burritos went quickly, but the pasta was available until the end. We even donated a few leftover trays to the homeless shelter. Anyway... sorry if you didn't like the selection. It's hard to arrange for food for 400 people to be delivered in the middle of the night. We did our best, and I thought it was pretty good stuff.

Third, and this one really baffles me, at least one runner was upset with the medals. Yeah, that's right. The medals. I have three things to say about this. First, if you're running the race for the medal, you might want to re-evaluate your whole reason for running. Second, I think the main finisher's medal looked pretty cool. I've run lots of marathons/ultras, and I'd say our medal--while not up there with NYC or Marine Corps--is still pretty respectable. Third, our 50K finisher's pin--which you get in addition to a finisher's medal--is damn cool.
In the end, I feel good about El Scorcho Dos. And for those who have never organized a run or volunteered, you should do it. It will give you perspective on races and offer a new found respect for the folks who spend days, nights, weeks, and months tending to all of the little details that you probably never even considered.


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