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.


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