Friday, May 30, 2008

El Scorcho is the feature article on The Final Sprint!

Check out the article here. Special thanks to Cheryl Lowe for interviewing Jim, James, Jason, and me.

The Final Sprint article is great, but I want to emphasize that Jim and James Newsom are also co-race directors, and Jason and I couldn't put the race on without their expertise and help. Fort Worth Running Company--Jim and James' store--is, in my opinion, THE best specialty running store in Fort Worth. If you find yourself in Cowtown and are in need of anything running-related, you should definitely stop by their establishment.

Here's what the article had to say:

The 2nd annual El Scorcho “Dos” 50K and 25K races are being held in Fort Worth, Texas on July 20, 2008 at midnight. Runners will complete a 3.1-mile crushed gravel loop on the Trinity Trails a total of five times for the 25K (15.5 mile) race, and ten times for the 50K (31 mile) race.

Yes–you read that right–the race starts at midnight. Don’t expect the runners competing in the event to lay down their heads for sleep anytime earlier than 7:00 AM that morning. Ryan Valdez, the race director, does not expect to catch any shut-eye for hours that weekend, either. “Body rhythms are going to be off. Most runners are used to going to bed early and waking up early for races,” said Valdez.

Valdez, along with fellow race director Jason Constantino, are working hard to deliver a fun and slightly crazy ultra-endurance event.

“It is a fun concept, and that’s why the running community has embraced it as much as it has,” said Valdez. “It’s crazy and not your typical run by any stretch of the imagination. The feel of the race is tongue-in-cheek. We don’t take ourselves too seriously.”

Last year, Ryan Valdez’s 30th birthday was coming up on July 16. Valdez had a list of things he wanted to accomplish before that day, and on that list was completing a run of at least 30 miles. He and his friend Jason Constantino brainstormed the idea when they went for a run together, and then the thought struck Valdez that they should team up and organize an actual ultramarathon race. “We thought it was crazy, nuts, and it was never going to work,” joked Valdez.

Valdez and Constantino worked hard to gather resources, sponsors, and race management support and – before they knew it – they had a race. Over 200 individuals from all around the United States signed up for the inaugural event. Even more were on the waiting list.

“We thought at most we’d have 20 to 30 people sign up,” said Valdez. “We ended up having 226 runners last year–much larger than we thought.”

Valdez and Constantino contacted Fort Worth Running Company for organizational support. Father-and-son duo Jim and James Newsom, co-owners of the local specialty running store, agreed to help sponsor the event because they thought that it was unique and off-the-wall.

“The whole idea of the race is to have fun. If it wasn’t fun, we wouldn’t be doing it,” said Jim Newsom. “We know that for eight hours we’re not going to have anything but laughs.”

Newsom helped Valdez to establish a charity for the race. Part of the proceeds go toward the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

According to Valdez, the race course is unique and safe. Just like last year’s event, a full medical staff will be ready to treat any ailing runners. Spectators and friends watch all along the race course and nobody gets left behind and lost in the dark. This year’s race course will be adequately lit, and many participants still bring their headlamps just in case. Both races are restricted to a trail loop that runs within Fort Worth’s Trinity Park.

“The course is unique. It’s in a city park but parts of it feel like a trail race,” said Valdez. “This race has an all-night party feel to it. People come to hang out and cheer each other on, and there is music playing all night.”

This year, there are already near 400 runners signed up for the race which will be held on July 20. Even though the entry size has doubled since last year, there are still people on the waiting list.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

There’s a reason I’m a runner first and a biker second.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I own a road bike and I typically do some long organized rides every year (e.g., Hotter than Hell, Cow Creek Country Classic, Peach Pedal). I enjoy the speed of riding, the distances you can cover, and the breeze that only cycling—never running—can bring.

So what’s the deal? Why does riding a bike take second fiddle to hitting the pavement on foot?

In a word, simplicity.

I need two things to run—a pair of shoes and a pair of shorts. That’s it. Sure, there are other comforts that make running more enjoyable (Body Glide comes instantly to mind), but at the end of the day, there’s very little you actually need to go on a run.

Biking in another story. There are helmets and gloves and bike shorts and bike shoes. There are tubes and tires and chain grease.

For a run, I can be out the door 5 minutes after making the decision to go.

For a ride, it can take anywhere from 15 minutes to over an hour.

Case in point: last weekend I headed out to ride with The Legendary Adam H. A mile from the house, I hit a 4 inch screw someone had conveniently discarded on the shoulder of the access road. Not only did it puncture my tube, it shredded my tire. End of ride.

Then yesterday, I spent about 45 minutes putting on a new tire, readjusting my rear brake, and cleaning my chain. (Admittedly, I am not the most astute bicycle mechanic.) Once I got going, I had a great ride. Adam and I logged about 30 miles or so over a pretty hilly course.

So at the end of the day, here’s my conclusion:

I like biking. But I like running a lot more.

Monday, May 26, 2008

So I didn't make it to the Andy Payne Marathon last weekend.

With gas approaching $4 a gallon, the Colonial on Sunday, and a Memorial Day cookout, a trip to Oklahoma City to run three laps around Lake Overholser just wasn't in the cards. Maybe next year.

Instead, Jballs and I drove to Waco (much closer than OKC) for some trail running. 90 degrees, 80% humidity, and 3 hours later, we were zonked. But it was fun.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Leaving for Waco in 10 minutes for a four hour training run through the trails of Cameron Park. Happy Memorial Day weekend!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I've worn Asics since I started running marathons in 2001. My sense of loyalty had little to do with a love for the brand itself; rather, it was guided by convenience. I knew my size. I could order online. It was easy.
Well, yesterday I heeded the advice of friend, running store owner, and El Scorcho co-race director, James "Six Pack" Newsom, and bought a pair of Brooks. I'm about to take 'em for a spin. We'll see how they treat me, but one thing I know: they sure are pretty.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I want to run at least 40 miles at the San Antonio marathon. There's a 7 and 1/2 hour time limit, so I'm thinking about finishing the marathon, then turning around and running the course backwards for seven miles before heading back to the finish line again. I'd have to maintain an 11:15 per mile pace to finish under the limit. I think I can do that.

Also, I'm mailing in my Bandera and Rocky Raccoon entry forms this weekend. $210. That's what I'll be paying to run a collective 162.2 miles. Ouch.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

El Scorcho now has more than 325 registered entrants. We'll hit our 400 limit very soon. Who are all these runners?!?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Change of plans.

Looks like I'll be skipping the Ultracentric this year and running the inaugural San Antonio Rock and Roll Marathon. Two reasons.

First, Nell wants to run a marathon this fall, and her running friend, Elizabeth, wants to do San Antonio. It'll be a fun mini-vacation.

Second, James "Six Pack" Newsom, co-race race director of El Scorcho and co-owner of Fort Worth Running Company (El Scorcho's flagship sponsor), has offered me a free entry into the marathon.

My only concern is training for Rocky Raccoon. I had planned to go for 60 miles at the Ultracentric in November, followed by the White Rock Marathon in December, and 100 km at Bandera in January, all leading up to my first 100 mile attempt in February.

Maybe I'll run a double San Antonio marathon--if they'll let me. I doubt they will. I'm slow. I'd need the course open for ten and a half hours.

Friday, May 09, 2008

El Scorcho has 310 registered entrants. Wow. Just. Wow.

I was checking out Clea's blog yesterday (we ran a couple laps of the Waco 5-0 together), where she mused about the one-dimensional aspect of her blog:
I do want to point out my blog probably makes me seem a little one dimensional. Like all I care about is running. Well, I won't lie, it is a big part of my life and I can claim 20 years, at least 5 days a week most those years, and the math adds up to a lot of running and more races than I can count, but I do have other interests. But, when I decided to do a blog, I really didn't think I was up a full diary, to bore people (if anyone would really read it), with my mundane thoughts and worries...so I decided to keep it pretty light. I occasionally drift away from running, and fluff , but overall, the blog will stick to mile after mile!
I can relate. When I started this thing, I wasn't sure what it would be. Running didn't become the focus until the last few years. And believe it or not, there is more to me than running. I'm a father, a husband, a lawyer, a musician, a volunteer, a goober. But, like Clea, a blog about every aspect of my life seems a bit too overwhelming, all-consuming, and maybe even self-indulgent. (Of course, what's not self-indulgent about setting up one's own website/blog solely to highlight one's running endeavors?)

So you get mostly running, one of my passions that has been a pretty consistent part of my life since 2000. Enjoy.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

No Hotter than Hell this year. I had to move my annual golf trip to August to accomodate for a trial. But that frees up time for The Goatneck.

Another friendly El Scorcho reminder -- I just checked and we have 275 registered entrants. 25 more spots until the price goes up another $10. 125 total spots left and then we're done. So sign up soon if you wanna run.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Here's a bold statement: The Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon is one of--if not the best-- organized marathon I have ever run. That includes two of the biggies, NYC and the Marine Corps Marathon.

The start is emotional and inspiring. The aid stations are plentiful (seems like they are at least every 3/4 of a mile). The volunteers are enthusiastic. Every mile marker has a large digital clock displaying official race time and a chart showing your predicted finish time based on your current pace. In addition to the normal goodies (cotton race t-shirt and finisher's medal), you get a nice technical finisher's shirt. The finish is fantastic with a 6-block sprint downtown lined with people. Oh, and the cheeseburger they give you after crossing the mat doesn't hurt either.


But let's start at the beginning.

2:00 a.m. I picked up Jballs and we drove through the night to meet up with Nancy, our incredible Oklahoma City connection.


I met Nancy earlier this year running the hills of Bandera. When she mentioned she was from Oklahoma, I conned her into agreeing to pick up my race packet for the marathon, as Jballs and I would be coming in just before the start of the race. She graciously agreed and then some--hooking us up with great parking, very nice pre-race restrooms (no line!), and directions navigating the city.


Near the end of our 200-mile drive north from Fort Worth, Jballs and I stopped in Norman for a pre-marathon Waffle House breakfast. Getting out the car, we were shocked at how much the temperature had dropped since leaving Texas. Welcome to Oklahoma--cold and rainy.


After chowing down on eggs, bacon, toast, and waffles, we loaded back into the car and drove another 15 minutes to Oklahoma City, where Nancy was waiting with our race packets.

The wind was picking up and the rain was coming down. It was dark and damp. Nancy ushered us to First United Methodist Church, where we were greeted by enthusiastic volunteers serving a pancake breakfast and offering a pre-race refuge from the nasty conditions outside.

10 minutes later, we were out in the cold again, zig zagging through the crowds toward the marathon start.

And, oh yeah, in typical fashion, we were late. But only about 8 minutes. God bless chip timing.

So how was the run itself?

Honestly... it sucked.

At least, the first half of the marathon sucked. Bad.

Other than a few short turns here and there, most of those first 11 miles run directly north. North--where an evil, 20+ mile per hour headwind greeted us manically. And when we did turn west, we still had a crosswind to contend with. It was brutal. Lean into the wind brutal. Blow you over brutal. We were gutting it out, but our pace was painfully slow given the effort exerted. At the 13.1 mile marker, we found ourselves running a 4:20 marathon pace.

And then we got to Lake Hefner and for the first time turned south.

And it was marvelous.

Our pace quickened, and we began to finally talk to one another. (The first 14 miles had been run mostly in silence as we individually dealt with putting one foot in front of the other in the face of the wind.) We started passing folks right and left, and finished strong.

4 hours, 10 minutes, 41 seconds. Under the circumstances, I was quite pleased.

Walking back to the car, medal around my neck and a munching on a Carl's Jr. cheeseburger, I vowed to come back again next year.


p.s. Sorry, no pics. I left the camera at home and the official photos from the race are copyrighted and locked so I can't post them on my blog unless I want to pay the low, low price of at least $12.95 for a 5x7.

p.p.s. I'm all for photographers getting paid for their efforts (my wife is a photographer), but the prices they charge for marathon photos are a bit excessive.

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