Monday, March 29, 2010

Yawn.

Too little sleep.

99% of the time, I love the location of our new home.  We are near TCU, several parks, the Fort Worth zoo, and lots of locally owned shops and restaurants.  But we are also about two miles from an enormous train yard.  And our house sits high up on top of a hill.  And every so often, it seems that several thousand trains come through during the wee hours of the morning, blowing their horns incessantly throughout the pre-dawn darkness.

The first one came around 2 a.m., and they didn't stop until after 4 a.m.  I know this because my son, who randomly decides not to sleep in his bed, was squirming next to me for a couple of hours last night, preventing any chance of rest for big poppa.

I am exhausted and it is only 6:58 a.m.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Surrender to Succeed.

Another perfect insight from Bad Budha:
There comes a moment for me in every marathon or ultramarathon... that is very specific and pivotal. It’s the moment when I’m feeling most tired, most in pain, most sick of fighting it all, a clearly defined point in space and time when I basically become fed up. And there are two very different directions that moment can take me. I can either run away from it, by quitting the race.... Or I can surrender myself to it. And when I do give up the struggle to escape my experience and simply let myself be, to feel it all fully and completely, my tension evaporates, the cheap scenery of my self-scripted melodrama is revealed for what it really is, and I make peace with my pain and suffering. Then, and only then, can I finish the race....

Friday, March 19, 2010

Speed? I am Speed.

Not really.  But I did finish the TCU loop at a 7:21 per mile pace while pushing Ezra in the jogging stroller.  And the route even has a few decent hills (at least for Fort Worth).  Fairly pleased with the effort, especially considering it was my first attempt to run "fast" in a LONG time, and I had had a few glasses of wine the night before.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Are you rested enough?

One measure for whether or not you are rested enough (besides falling asleep in board meetings) is to ask yourself this: "How much do I care about the things I care about?" When we lose concern for people, both lost and saved, for friendship, for truth, for beauty, for goodness; when we cease to laugh when our children laugh and instead yell at them to be quiet, when we cease to weep when our spouses weep and instead wish they did not get so emotional, when we hear of trouble among our neighbors and our first thought is we hope it does not involve us, when we stop caring about the things we care about, that is a signal we are too busy; we have let ourselves be consumed by things that feed the ego, but starve the soul.
-- Mark Buchanan

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Recovery, Cross-Training, and a Hiatus from the Long Run

The stomach bug died a slow death 36 hours after its appearance.  I woke up yesterday morning feeling much better, but still not a 100%.  Considering a slightly elevated temperature and some lingering symptoms, it seemed best to take another day off work, lest I risk a relapse and/or infected others.  By late afternoon, I felt a return to normalcy.  Thankfully, Ezra, although suffering a bit Friday night, appears to have missed the brunt of the illness that struck down Nell and me for a day and a half each.

Easing back into the swing of things, I hit the gym this morning, where Heath did his best to annihilate my muscles and shock my body back into shape.  I've been more or less coasting since Heartland.  I took six weeks off after my 100 mile journey.  A few weeks back into training, I broke the elbow, leading to another two months off.  I'd been back about two and half weeks when the stomach flu hit, causing me to miss a few days.  I feel like the gods have conspired against me and my return to fitness.  I'm (relatively) heavy and (definitely) weak.  The goal is to drop ten pounds of fat and bring back the muscle that has atrophied over the past three months.  I've got the Warrior Dash on May 1, and I'd like to be back in good shape by then.  That gives me two months to get ready.


Oh, and in three days I'm running the Toughest N' Texas race in Waco.  I'd like to finish all three laps and knock back another 50 km, but we will see how it goes.  At this point, I've got nothing to prove, and I intend to listen to my body and call it if I'm not feeling it.

Waco will be the last long run until training for the Mother Road 100 starts in earnest in July.  I'll still keep a long run base of 15-18 miles, but I don't intend to run more than three hours at a time until then.

In the meantime, Jballs and I have decided to focus on speed.  (Say what?!)  Yes, speed.  Since shifting almost exclusively to ultras, my overall pace has slowed dramtically, regardless of distance.  For awhile, running a four hour marathon wasn't too big of deal.  I knew I could finish within a few minutes of four hours without killing it, and if I pushed a bit toward the end, I could make it.  Those days seem long ago.  Over the past two years, I've lost about a minute per mile on my pace. 

It's time to get it back. 

We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Read Any Good Books Lately?

I'm something of a voracious reader.  Even though my job consists of poring over countless legal documents, cases, and memoranda, I still find myself thumbing through novels for pleasure nearly every evening.  I also tend to be streaky--I'll read a bunch of non-fiction, then some crime novels, then biographies, then horror. 

So what have I been reading lately?

I finished up "Where Win Men Glory: The Odyessy of Pat Tillman" a few months ago.  Both uplifting and tragic, it tells the story of Pat Tillman, who walked away from a multi-million dollar contract with the Arizona Cardinals to enlist in the United States Army. Two years later, he died on a desolate hillside in southeastern Afghanistan. Although known amonst his platoon that Tillman had died as a result of fratricide, the Army kept this information from Tillman’s family members and the American public for five weeks following his death. Eventually, the Army  notified his closest relatives that he had “probably” been killed by friendly fire.  Like all of Jon Krakauer's books, it was exhaustively researched and well written.



I followed up "Where Men Win Glory" with a book given to me by my folks for Christmas detailing the story of Jim Jones, the Peoples Temple, and the tragedy at Jonestown.  In "Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People," journalist Tim Reiterman reveals the complete, shocking story of Jonestown, providing the definitive account of the worst cult tragedy in American history. The book explores the ideals-gone-wrong, the intrigue, and the grim realities behind the Peoples Temple and its implosion in the jungle of South America. I was shocked and troubled by the manipulation Jones helf over so many people that eventually led to their mass murder (or "revolutionary suicide" as Jones put it).  Religious fantacisim frightens me.  If a person is absolutely convinced that their actions are not just acceptable, but are in fact irrevocably justified and mandated by a higher power, then there is no reasoning, there is no debate, there is no compromise.

On the heels of "Raven" came "Open: An Autobiography."  Other than a single fleeting summer at the age of 14, I have never spent much time playing tennis.  And I cannot recall watching a single match on television.  For me, Agassi was the "image is everything" guy with the crazy hair who played tennis and married Brooke Shields.  Nonetheless, "Open" was riveting.  The relentless training regime instituted by Agassi's father at a young age had broken all of his siblings, but somehow Agassi persevered, despite an open abhorence for the sport and what youth it claimed from him.  Both wanting to quit and needing to succeed existed within Agassi, and he weaves a complicated story of man grappling throughout much of his life with trying to ascertain who he really is and what he truly wants.  If anything, "Open" teaches us not to push our children too hard to fulfill our dreams.

Lastly, in a sharp turn away from non-fiction biographies, I just finished Joe Hill's "Horns."  (I did not know Joe Hill was Stephen King's son until I was a good way into the book, and I'm glad because I think I would've constantly compared Hill to his father during the read.)  "Horns" tells the story of Ignatius Perrish, a charmed 20-something born into privilege whose life is shattered after his girlfriend Merrin is brutally raped and murdered.  Although never charged or tried, in the court of public opinion Ig is and always will be guilty because his rich and connected parents pulled strings to make the investigation go away. Nothing Ig can do, nothing he can say, matters.  A year after Merrin's death, Ig wakes up hungover and with a pair of horns growing from his temples.  Ig soon learns that he can influence people's behavior with his horns, acting as their own pesonal devil and convincing them to take a step down the dark road to Hell.  And Ig intends to use his new talent to find out who killed Merrin and destroyed his life.  "Horns" was an enjoyable, quick read, and Hill shows a lot of promise.  My only complaint is that the novel was a little too tidy in the way all of the details came together in the end.  But that's a minor quibble, and one that many folks might appreciate.

So what's next? Any recommendations?

Monday, March 08, 2010

The Stomach Flu from Hell!

Ezra got it Friday night, about 10 minutes after Nell and I had been seated for dinner.  We got the call from Mimi that Ezra had just thrown up all over himself and Enno (Ezra's step-grandfather).  No romantic dinner this time.  We grabbed our food to go and then headed home to tend to the little dude.

Saturday was great.  Ezra seemed fine.  We even took in a TCU basketball game.

Sunday seemed to be going well until 5:30, when the bug attacked Nell.  She was down for the count.

But I was able to keep things moving, got Ezra to bed, lunches made, coffee ready.

Around 8:30 p.m., I settled onto the couch with a glass of red wine and watched an hour of the Academy Awards before heading to bed.

Fast forward to 4:00 a.m., when I awoke with the feeling that an alien was gnawing at the insides of my stomach.  I ran to the bathroom and hurled.  Looking down, I was shocked to see that I had vomitted up a bloody mess.  And then I remembered the glass of red wine.  A brief feeling of relief, which was soon squashed by more violent seizures of the midsection.  These vile tremors continue as I am typing this.

Somehow, Nell got Ezra to daycare.  Now we are both here--she on the couch and me in the bed--clutching our tummies and praying for some sort of recovery before we must pick Ezra up from school.

Bleeeeeeeeeeeh!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Pacing the 2010 Cowtown Ultramarathon

Picture stolen from Derrick's blog
Another year pacing Cowtown, but with much nicer weather.  Jason and I started the morning off with a couple of Whataburger tacquitos before hooking up with our fellow pacers at Pizzeria Uno before the run. 

Fighting through the enormous crowd of runners and spectators on the way to the starting corral, I suddenly realized how much the Cowtown had grown up.  Final estimates put the number of entrants over 20,000.  Howdy, folks.  Welcome to a BIG running event.

Waiting for the start, I chatted with several familiar faces.  Chris, Mario, and the crew from FWRunCo's training groups were hitting the ultra.  I ran into Derrick, who was running his first race since Rocky Raccoon.  I also met Lance T., a fellow attorney with some common clients.

About six or seven miles into the run, Jason and I had a group of about ten runners joining us.  Over the next thirteen miles, however, we would lose all of them, as the heat and the distance took its toll, slowing each runner's pace below ours.  By the time we reached mile twenty, Jason and I were on our own. 

So we decided to stop for doughnuts.  Seriously--I snagged a kolache and a chocolate twist at the Donut Palace.  Just the right amount of carbs, fat, and protein to get me going.

My knee started giving me problems around mile twenty four, but there was no turning back.

We trudged along, and crossed the finish line in 5 hours, 35 minutes -- five minutes faster than last year, and five minutes off our overall pace goal.  Had we been with other runners trying to hit a 5:30 finish time, I'm certain we would have kept the pace and pulled through.  But after all our pacees (?) dropped back, there didn't seem much point in pushing it.

Next up -- Waco.

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