Saturday, March 29, 2008

As I prepare for an easy 16 mile jog this morning, I find myself contemplating the question I am often asked--why do I enjoy running long distances? I've never really had an answer; at least, not a complete one. I'd mumble something or other about running's meditative effect or the way I feel after a run. True, but those responses don't fully explain it. Maybe it's this morning's coffee or last night's deep, dreamless sleep, but the light bulb finally went off.

Rarely do I--we--actually live in the moment. Think about it. You wake up in the morning and you're thinking about what's going to happen when you get to work. At work, you're thinking about what's going to happen at your lunch meeting. During your lunch meeting, you're thinking about what you have to do when you get back to the office. After lunch, you're thinking about what time you'll be heading home and what you need to pick up for dinner. After dinner, you're thinking about what you need to do before getting into bed. Getting into bed, you're thinking about the next morning. Everything is about the next thing.

When I'm running longer distances, whether it's 15 miles, 26.2 miles, or 50 miles, my mind wanders, but there is no planning, no thoughts of what else has to be done. I am running. For that period of time, running is my sole focus. Everything is sharpened to a single goal. Run. Just run. It is one of those rare occasions when I am truly in the moment.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I think Texas can take those Stanford twins. When we do and if Memphis beats Michigan State, it'll be Texas v. Memphis in the Elite Eight fighting for a spot in the Final Four.

My dad went to Memphis.

I went to Texas.

Ezra bleeds burnt orange.

It'll be a good father-son bonding weekend.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Because I've been running so many races this year, my long training runs have all but disappeared. I've been in a cycle of race, recover, race, recover, race....

In some ways, it's been nice. I've even joked that running a marathon (or longer) every 2-3 weeks means you never have to train.

But yesterday morning, I got up early and went on a long run along the Trinity. For the first 4-5 miles, I was completely alone; I never saw another soul. The quiet solitude and crisp pre-dawn air greeted me like an old friend. I felt the sun slowly rising and the earth warming around me as daylight broke over Fort Worth. It was a magnificent run.

Friday, March 14, 2008

I just realized that it's March and I haven't run a marathon this year.

Okay, that's sort of a joke.

But in truth, I've run 4 ultramarathons over the past two and half months, but no marathons. I've done three 50Ks (Bandera, Cowtown, and Waco) and one 50 mile run (Rocky Raccoon).

It's been an eventful year thus far.

I've got 3 more marathons (Big D, Oklahoma City, and Andy Payne) planned this spring, and then nothing official until the Ultracentric in November.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

El Scorcho has hit the second tier. The price just went up $10. Sign up soon before it goes up again!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

How cool is this? Apparrently, Lehigh University in Pennsylvania offered a class in 1996 on ultrarunning. According to the syllabus, students were required to (1) read a book on ultrarunning and report on it to the class, (2) keep a running journal, (3) participate in an ultramarathon listserv, (4) read and report on an issue of UltraRunning magazine, (5) observe an ultramarathon and write a short paper on the experience, and (6) write a final research paper on ultrarunning.

*** Waco 5-0 report is below, amigos ***

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I tried. I really did. I drank decaf for a week. It sucked. It didn't taste the same. I was groggy. I was irritable. I wasn't a happy camper. I admit it. I have an addiction. And admitting you have a problem is the first step, right? Except, I don't want to get better. I want to feed the addiction. I want to grind my beans every morning and let the wonderful aroma waft gently through the air. I want my mornings back. I want the smooth, sexy taste of freshly ground Costa Rican arabica to invigorate and enlighten. And so it will. I'm back, baby. Bring me the real thing. Ah, coffee. How I've missed thee.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Waco 5-0 Report

It was a cold, beautiful morning. Temps were in the high 20s-low 30s at the start. I settled into a comfortable pace, reminding myself of the course's deceptively difficult stretches. As the sun came out, I hooked up with Miles, a lawyer from Houston with whom I ran part of the race last year. We were soon joined by Clea, an accomplished ultrarunner and registered nurse from Austin. (Clea would eventually be the first female to cross the finish line.) The three of finished the first lap in just over 2 hoursBy the second lap, the clouds had dissipated and the sun had crept out. Clea and I lost Miles (the lawyer, not the distance), but she and I stayed together, chatting about this, that, and everything else. Clea remarked that ultrarunners were kind of like the characters on Cheers. Different backgrounds, different stories, but we all come together for races and share our lives with each other during the hours that we are on the trail.

About 6 miles into the second lap, we came across Donaldo, who was hiking the Waco 1-0, a single, 10 mile lap of the course. This was his first trail attempt and longest hike/run in years. At the young age of 63, he looked strong and happy.Toward the end of the second lap, I bid Clea farewell. We had run lap two a bit slower than the first lap, and I was feeling good. I decided to pull out the iPod and push it a bit on lap three.I ran most of the third lap, including some of the hills. (I typically walk even the slightest incline on a trail run. That had been my m.o. for the first two laps, but I decided not to pull any punches on lap three.) Before I knew it, I had reached the bamboo -- a sign that the end was near.But first I had to climb THE STAIRS. Ugh. A new addition by our sadistic race director. At the conclusion of each lap, we had to climb some brutal stairs to the top of a hill before descending the gentle decline to the finish.I finished in 6 hours, 19 minutes, 42 seconds at a pace of 12:13 per mile. 19 out of 38 50K finishers. More importantly, I bested last year's time by nearly 34 minutes.

Donaldo also did great!

We'll be back again next

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The Waco 5-0 was great. Wonderful course, perfect weather. Not sure I've my official time, but I think I PR'd by about 35 minutes or so over last year. I'll post a report, pics, and official results soon.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The other evening I drove over to a favorite local pizza place to pick up a pie. I was wearing my Cowtown finisher's shirt.

While standing in line to pay for our dinner, a middle-aged lady behind me said, "Congratulations on finishing the ultramarathon!"

"Thanks," I replied.

"How far was it, 10K?"


Saturday, March 01, 2008

Yesterday, I made my last trip (for the foreseeable future) to Brownwood, Texas, where I spent three days last November in a strange, unpredictable jury trial.

Here's a picture of the courthouse:
And here's a shot of the bar across the street from the courthouse
(which, unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to visit):

It's now 4:15 a.m., and I'm meeting Jballs for a 10 mile run before sunrise. He's got to report to the Air Force Reserves for his monthly service, so I agreed to get up at the asscrack of dawn to go running--stupid, stupid, stupid. Yawn.
Oh, and we joined a new gym yesterday, and it's nice.


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