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5ksandcabernets: April 2008


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I've run more than two days this year

I finished off the month with a 6 mile run in 51:50 today. Here are my running stats for the month and the year to date.

Total runs: 19
Total miles: 110.61
Total time: 15 hours, 54 minutes
Pace: 8 minutes, 37 seconds a mile
Average heart rate: 82 percent of max
Highest average heart rate: 91 percent (Last Saturday's Komen 5K run)

Total miles this year: 407.85
Total time this year: 2 days, 12 hours, 39 minutes, 47 seconds
Pace: 8 minutes, 55 seconds a mile
Average heart rate: 80 percent of max
Highest average heart rate: 93 percent (Jan. 1 Blackeyed Pea Run 5K)

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Revisiting my nappy head

A few weeks ago, I blogged about the challenges of a black man needing a consistent hair cut living in a mostly white neighborhood. I wrote that either I could take my chances at a place like SuperCuts, where they employ men and women who are not barbers.
Or I could drive 20 to 30 minutes or more to the black neighborhood and wait another 30 minutes or more to get a really good haircut.
Gandaman and I had a real nice virtual discussion about this topic.
And by some of the hits I got on this page from search engines, I can tell it was a subject on the minds of many "hairstylists" across the country.
A sampling of what people googled..

Cut black man hair, from Oregon
how to use clippers to cut a black mans hair, from North Carolina
how to barber black people hair? from Ontario, Canada
how to cut a black man's hair with clippers from San Francisco

Ok, you get the picture. Hairstylists around the country, presumably non-black ones, are getting more and more black men walking into their salons. And they _ the hairstylists _ want to do a good job. (Looks like the "hair schools" across the country should do a better job of teaching folks how to cut black men's hair to begin with.)

Anyway, next to the place I buy my wine (Put a Cork In It), I noticed that there was a place that did hair, Park Hill Hair Designs. The sign in the window said they had a barber on duty. A white barber, probably, but a barber nonetheless.
So I figured, what the heck.
I walked in. Saw another black waiting and figured that the barber on duty must be okay.
Turns out, the black guy, Roy, just wanted all his hair cut off. Heck, anybody, barber or not, could do that.
Finally, it was my time. The barber, a guy who looked to be in his mid to late 50s, introduced himself as Steve. Then he asked me what I wanted, but before I could get the answer out he said, "Now, I'm just warning you. I can't do fade-ups and I've only cut two blacks in the past year."
By then, I was already in the seat and figured, "if he screws up, I'll just patch it up myself at home."
Besides, I didn't want a fancy high-top fade. I just wanted something conservative. Something like Denzel Washington in American Gangster. Maybe a little shorter. But very conservative.
Things started out a little shaky with Steve, though. He cut the sides first using a comb as a guide, the way you cut white guy's hair.
I said, as nicely as possible, "You might wanna go ahead and put a guard on your clippers and you'll be okay."
Steve did, and by the way, it was a nice metal guard. Things went great after that.
Steve went on to tell me that though he is a barber, he doesn't get a lot of practice cutting black hair. He said he cut the head of a black kid once. The kid loved the haircut, but the dad was furious.
"I just tell people if you get a barber who can cut your hair the way you want it, then stay with that person."
Sounds like pretty good advice.
Steve did a good job on my hair. A damn good job, in fact. And I think he'll do better the more practice he gets with me.
Looks like I found me a barber without needing to drive to the 'hood.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Smoke tasting graham crackers

Ok. Watching Mavs-Hornets, Game 4. It's halftime. Drinking a glass of Zinfandel. Its a 2006 Edmeades from Mendocino County.
The label says, "with dollops of smoke, graham cracker, chocolate and fruit..."
Now, I don't know what smoke tastes like. And my inexperienced palate hasn't figured out how to discern graham cracker. (Maybe, as NY Times wine writer Eric Asimov blogs, this wine is on Viagra.)
But I know what I know.
I like this wine. Yummmmmmy.


FW Komen Race, Part II: Race report

This is the elevation chart for the race I ran yesterday, the Fort Worth Komen 5K Race for the Cure. You can see the big hill I blogged about. At about 2.5 miles in, this thing hits you. You turn off of Forest Park Boulevard onto Weatherford Street.
At this point in the race yesterday, I was averaging a 6:45 mile pace. Well on my way to setting a 5K pr.
Then I hit this hill. It was .58 miles. Elevation, according to my Garmin Forerunner 305, was 68 feet. So basically, I had to climb a five-story building. (Didn't Batman need to pull himself up a rope to do this kind of thing?)
It took me 4:21 to get up this hill, a 7:48 pace. My heart rate soared from 90 to 95 percent max. My total minute-per-mile pace slowed from 6:45 to 7:04.
I sprinted the rest of the way in to shave a few seconds off my total pace and ended up running the 5K in 21:56
That's an even 7 minute mile pace.
Lessons learned? I need more hill work. And there are plenty in the neighborhood I live in. The loop around Texas Christian University set of rolling hills.
And to think I was done with school.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Komen 5K Race for the Cure: Race Report

My time: 21:56

Not a pr, but with the last 3/4 of a mile uphill, I feel pretty good about what I did. And the time is better than the last three 5ks I've done, and those were all flat courses.
I'll write a more detailed report later, but here are the splits...
1: 6:45 (was feeling good)
2: 6:55 (pacing myself for the hill to come)
3: 7:31 (ok. this hill _ on Weatherford Street _ is ridiculous)

3.13 :45 (Sprinted in and tried not to throw up on the slow person cutting the chip off my shoe).

More later....

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Friday, April 25, 2008

1,000 visitors!

At 9:59 this morning, my site went, well, platinum. 1,000 visitors.
The momentous visitor was Gandaman (Hope you don't get mad at me for outing you buddy.)
It took three months for 1,000 visitors, so I just want to thank my mom right now for getting on my site every day, 10 times a day.
I'm trying for a 5K pr at the Komen Race for the Cure in downtown Fort Worth Saturday morning. Gotta beat a 21:09. That's a 6:49 mile.
They just released the map of the route and the last part of the run is slightly uphill.
Keeping my fingers crossed.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Run the Boston Marathon, for only $20

If you ever think about cheating to gain entry into the Boston Marathon, here's some advice: Don't do it.

On the Letsrun message boards, someone spotted an ad on ebay with a guy offering to sell his Boston Marathon bib. This would allow someone who didn't qualify to run in last Mondays Boston Marathon a chance to run. And not just run in the back, but near the elites. The seller had qualified by running a 2:30 at his qualifying race.
His opening bid was about $20 and soared to more than $400. He said he couldn't run because he was injured.
His ad read like this:

If you have ever dreamed of running the Boston Marathon and being in the front, take advantage of my unfortunate injury, by bidding on my entry.

Because I cannot run, I am letting someone else enjoy the race. I qualified in a time of under 2:30, so you will be in the first corrale, in the front.

The winner will receive all of the details, bib number, etc...I will be in Boston anyways cheering on my fellow elite runners, so I can pick up my low number and all the other give aways and then hand them over to you.

You will most likely need to run under my name, but you receive the finisher medal, get to start in the front, and enjoy the entire experience.

Consider running with Lance Armstrong, presidential candidate Huckaby and a host of other famous, elite runners.

Enjoy the prestige of running the Boston Marathon and the millions of people cheering you on.

If you win, I will meet you at the Boston Marathon Expo on either Saturday or Sunday before the race Monday, April 21.Good luck...once in a lifetime chance for some people.

Bid with confidence after checking my feedback.

The Letsrun forumites were furious. They figured out who the guy was (a pretty fast marathon runner from Columbus, Ohio) and reported him to the Boston Athletic Association.
The guy didn't sell his bib, or at least no one with that bib number, 1071, crossed the finish line.
Still, his attempt to profit drew lots of attention, not only from, but from the RunnersWorld forum and an article in today's New York Times, titled Cheating Starts Before Race Does.

Personally, I think they should have left the guy alone. I'm a runner and I hope to qualify for Boston one day, honestly. But if I'm running down Boylston Street and find out the guy or gal running next to me got in the race because they bought a bib number, it won't bother me one bit.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Fighting for my love and affection

I did a lot of sole searching and decided it was time to end the affair.
The new squeeze has caused too much pain, suffering, and a trail of guilt.
I've figured for the longest that it was time to get that old flame back which has carried me through the years, through every major step I've taken.
So the other night, I swallowed my pride and reclaimed what was once mine: The Brooks Adrenaline.
I've been an Adrenaline wearer since the GT5 model, in 2004. They fit my feet perfectly. Sleek, not too heavy or bulky. Just enough support for my somewhat flat feet.
I ran both marathons in them. But I was a younger runner back then and strayed to other shoes from time to time. There was sexy Saucony. Naughty Nike and New Balance.
I was going out with Adrenaline during my 2007 marathon training. But my feet were really sore and I was looking for a new love. (Hmmm, maybe my feet hurt because I ran 7 consecutive weeks of more than 40 miles including a 45-mile week, and a 50-mile week, not to mention back-to-back weekends with a long run of 18 to 20 miles.)
The Luke's Locker people told me the support on the Asics was the same as the Adrenaline.
So in late December I switched to Asics 2130s, dumping Adrenaline.
The early dates were great. (Isn't the early part of a relationship always blissful?)
I won my age group in a 5K on January 1. I got faster and faster during my 6-mile tempo runs on Tuesday mornings.
But throughout my entire affair with Asics, I always had nagging feet or leg soreness, especially on the inside of my feet, like there was not quite enough support.
At the beginning of March, I took a little more than two weeks off to heal (I guess I needed some alone time), thinking maybe my feet and lower legs hurt from overuse.
But, and this is the first time I've written this, the soreness came back, in the same spots. (In relationship speak: Me and Asics argued too much about the same stuff)

Even when I just walked around the house in Asics, my feet felt weak, like the shoe/relationship was going to give way.
So, walking into Luke's Locker after I got off work Monday and slipping on a pair of Adrenalines, the GT8s, was like, "ahhhh."
My feet said, "Welcome back, Adrenaline."
We went on our first "date" Tuesday morning, and it was just like old times, feet floating effortlessly along the route that takes us from Luke's Locker, past Colonial Country Club and back. I ran hard, but not all out, for the first 5k, and near the end of that, I was doing 7:20s.
Guess I'm back in love with Adrenaline.
For now, at least.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Boston Marathon: Six degrees of separation

They ran the Boston Marathon Monday. The Holy Grail of Marathon running, if you will.
I haven't even come close to qualifying.
But I got the digits.
I found the bib numbers from some of the races I've run. (The other ones are lost). I added them, then divided the number by the number of bibs I have.
The number I came up with is my own Fantasy Boston Bib Number: 2731
Before Monday, I went to the Boston Marathon Web Site and found the last few finishers with this Bib number.

The Boston finisher with Bib No. 2731 over the last few years has finished in a time ranging from 3:14 to 4:17.

I may not be fast, but I've got fast karma.
I tracked the person who wore Bib No. 2731 on Monday:
It was a guy named David Bauer, a 31-year-old male from Salt Lake City, Utah. He finished in 3:06:16, a pace of 7:07.
I guess I've got a marathon cousin, so to speak.

By the way, if you see one of your bib numbers in my picture, drop me a line. I'll link to you, you link to me.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Trying to figure out where my son gets his looks from

My mother?

My grandfather?

Me? (His mother made him wear these "Easter Ears")

His mother?

Folks, I'm tired. Leave my dad a message when you figure out who I might look like.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Six-word memoir

One of my coworkers, whose blog is titled: Circle30, has "tagged" me.
She has asked me to play the, "Six-word memoir" game.
It is from a recently released book titled, "Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure."
The book has only been out since February 5, but if you type "Six-word memoir" into Google, you get more than 50,000 search results.
Needless to say, The. Memoirs. Are. Sweeping. The. Nation.

Here are the rules:
1) Write your own six word memoir
2) Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you want
3) Link to the person that tagged you in your post, and to the original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere
4) Tag at least five more blogs with links
5) Leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!

Here is my six word memoir:
Running. Wine. Sex. In that order.

Yours: ?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hurricane force winds blowing my confidence away

Today was the nitty gritty phase of my training to set a 5K pr: Intervals.
Four sets of 1,000-meters with a rest period of 3:30 in between each interval. The rest period is so you can recover, get your heart rate back to under 75 percent.
It was 65 degrees. Humid. And windy. Very windy. (This is tornado season in Texas, right?)
I probably should have skipped this workout on the weather alone, but off I went.
And I felt good on the first interval, which I completed in 4:13. (A 6:48 minute-mile pace). This was against the wind. I was feeling confident.
So on the second 1,000-meter interval, with the wind, I popped a 4:01 (6:29 pace). That's fast.
But I wasn't feeling too good. I wanted to throw up and my heart rate was still over 85 percent by the time I started the third interval.
And it was against the wind. A quarter-mile in, I was toast. Time was 5:06 (8:14 pace).
I debated whether or not to do the last interval. But since it was with the wind and I had to run that way anyway to get back to my car, I went ahead. And I eeked out a 4:14 (6:50 pace).
I did a short cool down and shuffled my sweaty ass back to the car.
It doesn't take a fool to know I can't keep up a 6:29 pace for an entire 5K. But I think I might be a little faster than a 6:50 pace. Especially if there is little to no wind.
We'll see next Saturday, when I run in the Komen Race for the Cure. My 5K PR, incidentally set at this race two years ago, is 21:09. If I can run 6:50, I'll be close.
Keeping my fingers crossed.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

200 bottles of wine on the wall, 200 bottles of wine

People who think I am a wine snob always ask me: "How do you know what a good bottle of wine tastes like?"

I always answer: "Go buy some wine. If you like it, it's good, if you don't, it's not good."

Now, that's being a little simplistic.

Someone with a refined palate, who has tasted hundreds and hundreds of wines, will be a little more adept at discerning "good wine" than someone whose only wine experience is the Bolla they had at Macaroni Grill.

But who is right? Do critics know more about wine than the average weekend drinker?

The New York Times' wine writer, Eric Asimov, tries to tackle this subject in his The Pour blog post titled, You Can Please All Of The People, Or You Can Make Great Wine.

Asimov comments on findings in a book titled, "The Wine Trials" which analyzes the results of blind taste tests of 540 wines by 500 volunteers.

The findings were first published in the April 7 issue of Newsweek. The book shows that 100 wines under $15 consistently outperformed more expensive wines. With this evidence, the book tries to downplay the knowledge of wine critics, calling their trade, "the jargon and pomposity of wine writing."

Asimov disagrees. He compares the palates of a novice and expert wine drinker by using a sports analogy. Translation: A non-sports fan tuning into the NFL for the first time last year would think the New York Giants were the best team ever created simply because they won the Super Bowl. A sports fan, who knows the flaws of the Giants, would put their money on the New England Patriots again and again and again.

A novice wine taster doesn't know that he doesn't know.

This brings me back to my own palate. I started drinking wine in 2002. Right now, I wouldn't drink some merlots if you gave them to me free. But back then, with my unrefined palate, my "go-to" wine was a Kendall Jackson merlot.

Since 2006, I've probably drank 200 bottles of wine, maybe more. I've gone through stages. I remember drinking my first Bordeaux, a $12 Chateau Sisson, and thinking I'd made it as a wine drinker. Now my palate frowns on the "affordable" bordeauxs, too earthy tasting, not enough body.

But that's the way it goes for me. I get hooked on one varietal, get tired of it, then find another one and get hooked. I went from bordeauxs to petite syrahs to cabernets and now I'm hooked on syrahs/shirazs. (Run dangerously has suggested I try a Zinfandel, Marietta Old Vine Red. As soon as I get my hands on a bottle, I'll post my own tasting notes).

Tuesday night, to celebrate filing my taxes on time, I drank an $18 bottle of 2005 Boarding Pass Shiraz from South Australia. The tasting notes says this wine has, "a nose of smoke, spice box, blackberry, and blueberry jam."

Now I'm not sophisticated enough to know about all of that. I mean, what's a blackberry taste like anyways.

If you blindfold me, however, I'm certain I can tell the difference between Boarding Pass and Yellow Tail or Wishing Tree; or Stags' Leap Petite Syrah and Bogle.

But it's always fun when you find your own Two Buck Chuck.



Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Running with the big boys

I've run with the Tuesday morning Luke's Locker folks long enough to know some of their names. As it turns out, many have either run the Boston Marathon or have qualified to run Boston in 2009.
Noreen, who normally leads the group, has run, I believe, more than a dozen marathons and Boston is one of them. Richard and Kimberly have qualified to run Boston next year. I'm not sure if Dave or Krista have qualified for Boston, but Krista is usually the fastest runner in our group and so I wouldn't be surprised if she did.
So, I figure the more I run with these real marathoners, the faster I'll get.
And it seems to be working.
This morning was our 6-mile tempo run. I finished in about 46 minutes, which is a 7:40 minute-per-mile pace. This is definitely the fastest I've ever run in training, but I didn't feel like I was "going all out" That's encouraging, because the pace is faster than my 2007 10k time at the Cowtown Marathon, and just a few ticks slower than my 2008 10k time at Cowtown.
Looks like I might be ready for a 5K pr. I'll keep my fingers crossed and register today (after I file my taxes of course) for the Komen Race for the Cure at Sundance Square in downtown Fort Worth.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Boston Marathon: Interview with a real live BQer

A week from today, they will run the 112th Boston Marathon. It is the Super Bowl of marathon running. Or the World Series. And with its strict qualifying standards, many of us have never known what it feels like to run Boston, arms raised, crossing the finish line on Boylston Street.
And that includes me. To qualify for Boston, I would have had to run a previous marathon in 3 hours, 15 minutes. That's a 7:26 minute per mile pace. I've never kept that pace up for a 10K, much less the two marathons I've run.
But, I know somebody who has.
So, today, I thought I'd start Boston Marathon week blogging with a question and answer session from one of my co-workers, Tom, who qualified for the 2007 Boston Marathon with his marathon time in the 2006 Austin Marathon. When I first started running four years ago this month, I used to ask Tom a ton of questions about running, shoes, hydration. I just knew he was born a runner. But turns out, Tom had to work hard to make it from his first marathon to qualifying for Boston.

Here's my interview:

When did you start running and how often did you run in the beginning?
I started running when I was about 13 – two miles a day at first and longer during the summers. In college my long runs ranged from about 10 to 15 miles. After college, my weekly mileage dropped to about 15 miles a week. By my 30s I was up to 30 to 40 miles a week and 60 during marathon season.

What were your training paces in the beginning?
Probably about 8 minutes a mile. I remember putting in a lot of miles at the same pace – I hardly ever did speed work.

What was the single most best advice you got when you first started running?
The only way to get faster is to run more – or something along those lines. The idea being you get better at running by running more, which, for me, has been the case.

When was your first marathon and what was that experience like?
Fort Worth in 2002. It was hot and windy. I was so fixed on running at a certain pace that I blew up around the 22nd mile – I had about a 15-minute mile at the end and ended up finishing in 4:45. I ran too fast at the beginning and paid for it in the end. Even though it was awful, I was hooked.

How much time did you shave your first marathon to your second?
About 20 minutes. This time, I started way too slow, plodded for too many miles and was running at a 7-minute pace for the last four miles. I felt like I was getting a better handle of the marathon and how to run it.

What's most important? Long runs or high weekly mileage?
Lots of miles, tempo runs and runs at marathon pace. For me, putting the miles in gives me the strength and endurance to keep my pace. I also gained confidence by running the last few miles of long runs at marathon pace – or as close to it as I could.

What was Boston like?
A couple of things struck me. The whole whole city embraces the marathon. It dominates the TV news, the newspapers and the talk on the streets. Runners are everywhere -- on the airplane, at the hotel and at Red Sox games.

On Sunday, you’ll start to see street signs reminding motorists of closures for Marathon Monday. At the start line in Hopkinton, there are no bands, slick promotions or confetti cannons – which seems to be the normal setup at most marathons these days.

Because everyone is placed in a corral according to his or her time, everyone around you is running at about the same pace. So there’s not the jockeying for position that you’ll see at other marathons. There aren’t any walkers or joggers clogging the course or 2:30 marathoners in the back trying to to pick their way to the front.

For most of the course, you’re running through small towns while locals line the street to cheer you on – it’s very simple and low key. It seems like there are people along the course every step of the way.

A good part of the course runs downhill until Newton. The bad thing about Heartbreak Hill is its location, 20-something miles into the race. But after that, the crowds are deep and their loud cheers really help carry you to the finish line.
Tom J. Age at 2007 Boston Marathon: 41 Time: 3:34:49 Pace: 8:12 Splits 5K: 23:55 10k: 47:41 15k: 1:11:40 20k: 1:35:59 half: 1:41:12 25k: 2:00:30 30k: 2:26:30 35k: 2:53:52 40k: 3:22:13

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Dad, I want pizza

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Friday, April 11, 2008

NFL scouts would not like my measurables

I’m 5 feet 9, 166 pounds and I run the 40-yard dash in 9.5 seconds _ on a good day.
Why mention my 40-yard-dash time? The NFL is holding its annual draft in two weeks and the 40-yard-dash is its signature test.
Most linemen run it in 5 seconds; most wide receivers and running backs run it in 4.5 seconds. Most super-humans (the really really fast guys) run it under 4.4 seconds.
In my prior life as a sportswriter, Deion Sanders once told me, “I run 4.2s for breakfast.”

Needless to say, the NFL scouts would scoff at my time.

Of course, if all I had to do was run 40 yards, I could run it much faster. In college, I ran it once in about 4.8 seconds. But that was more than 20 years ago.

No, my 9.5 second time in the 40 as I near the age of 40 is more about my 5K pace.
This morning, I did 4x1000 meter intervals at 5k pace, which for me is about a 7-minute mile.
Extrapolating the data, I calculated that...
Someone who takes 7 minutes to run a mile covers 40 yards every 9.5 seconds.
A 10-minute-miler covers 40 yards every 13.6 seconds.
An elite 5-minute-miler covers 40 yards every 6.8 seconds.

If Deion Sanders, who has been out of the league for years now, could hold his 4.2-second 40-yard dash time for a 5K race, he'd run an incredible 3:05 minute per mile pace, finishing in 9:34, smashing the world record.

We "normal" runners may never be as quick as the guys who play in the NFL. But it’s a good bet that none of the NFL players could hold their "NFL speed" for a entire 5k.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

The mental DNA of 5ksandcabernets

I'm like most people who blog. I wanna let people know how I feel. What makes me tick. What I'm all about.
On my job, we've all participated in this "strengths" program to help us understand ourselves better, and to help others know where we are coming from.
First, we took a test. Lots of questions. The computer spits out this profile. It's the five "strengths" _ out of 34 _ that you rely on more than other "strengths" in social settings. It's supposed to be your mental DNA.
The test is based on the Gallup Management Journal and published in a book called, "Now, Discover Your Strengths" It is supposed to help me understand how I and those who work around me "filter" information. There is a blog on the whole subject of strengthfinder.
I took this test three years ago and its helped.
Here are my five strengths _ in the order that I use them _ and what they mean:

Woo: People strong in the Woo theme love the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over. They derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection with another person.
Responsibility: People strong in the Responsibility theme take psychological ownership of what they say they will do. They are committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty.
Positivity: People strong in the Positivity theme have an enthusiasm that is contagious. They are upbeat and can get others excited about what they are going to do.
Communication: People strong in the Communication theme generally find it easy to put their thoughts into words. They are good conversationalists and presenters.
Belief: People strong in the Belief theme have certain core values that are unchanging. Out of these values emerges a defined purpose for their life.

Anybody else out there in the blogosphere take this test? What are your strengths? How do you find yourself using them?


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

I knew that Thespian honor would come in handy one day.

I took drama classes in high school just for opportunities like this: At you can sign up to be in a running movie.
At this very moment, a new movie studio is planning a documentary that will follow two extreme athletes running from San Francisco to New York. They need hundreds of runners for filming which starts June 1.
From the studio's web site, "NEHST is casting 5 people per mile - you can only run one mile with (the runners) officially, but can drop back and continue to run - to run with these athletes to raise money for the charity H2O Africa and witness history being made first hand."
Any runner of any ability can apply.
This also means any "actor" of any ability can apply.
I'm coming for your job, Denzel Washington.


He really does run the show in Iraq

As Gen. David H. Petraeus (he is the guy who heads up our troops in Iraq) was testifying before a Senate panel Tuesday about whether or not we should get the heck out of dodge over there, the astute editors at Runner's World dug up an article they wrote about Petraeus last December. Turns out, Petraeus is just like one of us, a runner, though, a bit more extreme than many of us.
The Runner's World writer, Willy Stern, got an interview with Petraeus in Iraq. Petraeus and 21 other soldiers did a 5.7-mile loop, writes Stern.
Petraeus came in at a pace under six minutes per mile, and, Stern notes that this is a guy with a metal plate in his pelvis and a gunshot wound on his chest (courtesy of a training accident).
Here is more of the Runners World interview with Petraeus.

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The shape I'm in

Today was my usual Tuesday 6 a.m. run with the folks from Luke's Locker off of University Drive. We usually do 6 or 7 miles at a pretty quick pace. And for me the pace is faster than half-marathon pace but slower than 10k pace. I use the run as an indicator of the kind of shape I'm in. So I was pretty happy when I hit the stop button on my Garmin 305 and it read;
Miles: 6.12
Time: 48:27.
Pace: 7:54
Woooo-hoooo. Thats a workout PR.
Now, there are a couple of things worth mentioning. At mile 3 or so, we usually stop at a water fountain. It's about a 30 second break or so. During this break, I hit the stop button on my Garmin. So the total time does not include that break. Last week, I didn't stop for the water break, and my pace was 8:03.
Still, I'm not going to apologize for being smart to take a quick respite. Afterall, it was 70 degrees with the humidity at 68 percent. Sticky.
For much of the last three miles, we did this crazy speed drill where it was 35 seconds fast, 60 seconds recovery. Good thing Monday night that I only drank one glass of Vina Robles Cabernet Sauvignon or it would have wound up all over my running shorts this morning.
The cool thing about using the Garmin is it tells you how long your heart rate was at a certain level. Things start to get pretty hard when my heart rate hovers over 88 percent maximum. Today, I spent 39:47 in that "red-line" area.
Just to show you how much a difference the temperature makes, I did this same run on Feb. 19. It was 38 degrees outside. My heart rate never got above 84 percent. This morning, my average heart rate was 88 percent.

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Monday, April 7, 2008

Death by blogging?

My throat has been kind of itchy lately. I've had the chills, and a headache. I thought it was because my son, who was sick over the weekend, gave me his cold. Or perhaps they were running the air conditioning too much on the job.
But then I read the New York Times this morning. They say I could be blogging myself to death.

Here is an excerpt:

"Two weeks ago in North Lauderdale, Fla., funeral services were held for Russell Shaw, a prolific blogger on technology subjects who died at 60 of a heart attack. In December, another tech blogger, Marc Orchant, died at 50 of a massive coronary. A third, Om Malik, 41, survived a heart attack in December.
Other bloggers complain of weight loss or gain, sleep disorders, exhaustion and other maladies born of the nonstop strain of producing for a news and information cycle that is as always-on as the Internet."

If you don't see a post from me for a few days, excuse me. I'm trying to get well.


I needed directions to stay on the yellow-brick road.

I went to Austin this weekend to see my 8-month-old son, Noah. For the first time, I decided to run one of Austin's most famous trails: Town Lake.
In my short time as a runner _ exactly four years this month _ I've run several trails in Texas. (In Houston: Memorial Park, Herman Park, and the trail around Rice University; In Dallas: White Rock Lake, and the Campion Trails in Las Colinas; And in Fort Worth: the Trinity Trails)
So, I consider myself somewhat of an authority on decent places to run in Texas. And I'd say Austin's Town Lake stands as one of the best places to run, though there is some room for improvement. (Through the magic of my Garmin Forerunner 305, Motionbased, and GoogleEarth, I've embedded my run at the bottom of this post. I ran clockwise.)
A quick review for anybody going to Austin soon. (Little Miss Runner Pants?)
1) Atmosphere: Well, you are running nature, 10.1 miles around the Colorado River with scenic views of downtown Austin.
The good: What's not to like about running around mostly water? Or kids softball fields? Or dog parks? I've blogged before that what I like most about running the Trinity Trails in Fort Worth is the Saturday atmosphere, with so many people sharing the trails. Well, the Trinity Trails have nada on Town Lake. There were people rowing and kayaking. On the west side of the lake, there are spots where it gets so crowded that its like you are at the start of a race. I was elbow to elbow with people. Had to contort my body to get past people who were walking their dogs. There was a guy playing the guitar shouting, "Good job," to anybody who ran by. All I was missing was a bib number.
The bad: Parts of the trail took me out on Cesar Chavez Street and East Riverside Drive. At one point, I went down several flights of stairs to get from the road to the trail. Another time, I found myself running through the parking lot of the Austin American-Statesman. (The Statesman reported last month that it is going to hire a firm to design a boardwalk that would close this gap in the trail.)

2) Navigation/user friendliness: Your knees will love this trail as it is mostly crushed limestone or gravel. And there are water fountains in many places. On some parts of the trail, volunteers had set out some paper cups and water.
But, if you are a Town Lake virgin, like I was, there may be some frustration here. There were no clear maps or markers to tell you where you were or where you were going. No yellow-brick road. I ran the trail clockwise, but it appears that most of the people were running the trail counterclockwise.
Also, I meant to run just 5 miles, afterall, my son's godfather told me it was only 5 miles around the lake. So I set a quick pace for myself, thinking I'd be done in about 42 to 43 minutes. At mile 3 I realized I wasn't even close to being done. Huffin' and puffin' I asked two women how long the course was. When they told me 10.1 miles, I knew I had to slow down. But I'd already used up too much energy and I paid for it in the last three miles. I did the first 5 miles in a 9:00 minute/mile pace. The last 5 were in 9:33 minute/mile pace. After the run, I had enough salt on my face to season a potato.
Even though its 10.1 miles around the lake, there are several different trail combinations you can use to run any distance you want. But I didn't see any clear maps to show me. On the east side of the lake, where it was not as crowded as it is on the west side, I had to ask runners which way to go when I got to a fork in the trail. When the trail ran parallel to Lakeshore Blvd., you can see where I took the wrong fork in the road. The trail also went by this power plant type structure that looked really scary. I wouldn't run by this area at night.
I know I complained a lot. But this is a nice place to run. And I'll run it again the next time I'm in Austin.

Here is a breadcrumb trail of my run:

View Larger Map

Here is how Town Lake ranks compared to the other trails that I've run.
1. White Rock Lake, Dallas: You get a view of the lake with just about every step of this 9.3 mile journey. Watch out for the bicyclists, though.
2. Town Lake, Austin
3. Memorial Park, Houston: Tons of people to rub elbows with on this 3 mile loop.
4. Rice University: I like running when there are a lot of people around, and, though there are no mountains and no lakes or rivers, you get plenty of company running around Rice.
5. Trinity Trails, Fort Worth: You can run from downtown to southwest Fort Worth and not have to dodge one car.
6. Campion Trails, Las Colinas: Twelve-feet wide trails give you plenty of room to pass _ or be passed _ though the concrete will wear your knees out.

Here were my Saturday Splits at Town Lake
1: 8:54
2: 8:31
3: 9:07
4: 9:04
5: 9:20
6: 9:20
7: 9:09
8: 9:37
9: 9:47
10: 9:50

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

I almost mugged a homeless guy

I think I'm losing my mind.
I had a computer training meeting in downtown Fort Worth Wednesday morning.
Before I left the house, I grabbed my phone then grabbed a handful of quarters for the meter.
I get downtown. I feed the meter, run across the street and realize I don't have my phone.
Must have left it in the car, I thought.
I check the car. Its not there. Must have put it on top of the car while I was feeding the meter. Its not on the car or on the ground.
The whole time this is going on, a homeless guy had walked by and was now about three blocks away. He must have my phone, I thought.
I ran down Fifth Street and caught up with him before he crossed Throckmorton Street.
I wondered what I should say to him. Should I pat him down?
"Excuse me, sir, " I asked. At least I was nice.
"Yeah," he said, turning around.
"Do you have a phone?" (Notice I didn't say, "do you have my phone." This was a very calculating question on my part. Didn't want to come off like I was blaming him)
"What the heck would I be doing with a phone," he said.
At that instant, I realized that when I grabbed the quarters in the change jar at my home, I put my phone down. And never picked it up again.
After the meeting, I drove home. My phone was lying on the couch.

Another glass of 5ksandcabernets
I hadn't run since Tuesday morning, so I made myself do 5 miles today. It was hard. The night before, I drank three glasses of Hess Estate Allomi Cabernet Sauvignon with Circle30 at Zambrano Wine Cellar. I also ate half a pizza. On the running trail this morning, it took three miles before I felt "normal." But I met my goal of not running too fast, that is, keeping my run under 80 percent of my max heart rate.

It's hard to run that slow, but I figure if I can do this enough, I'll reduce the chances of re-injuring myself.

Here were the splits
1: 10:22
2: 9:55
3: 9:20
4: 9:19
5: 9:09



Wednesday, April 2, 2008

But mom, do I have to eat my vegetables?

Mommies and doctors always tell you to eat your vegetables, and I'd be a better runner if I did. But this video of frozen veggies catching fire in the microwave gives me another excuse not to eat them. No sirrrreeeee!


Feet. Don't. Fail. Me. Now.

Like the release of Hillary Clinton's tax returns, I've been waiting anxiously on the Science of Sport's post on the foot strike of the elite runners. (Heel vs. Midfoot vs. forefoot: How do elite runners land?)
I assumed that because the elites run 5-minute miles, that they must be on the balls of their feet all the time. And in the few times that I've been in an all-out sprint (at the end of 5ks and 10ks), I've found myself on the balls of my feet.
In late January, I decided that I would try to do most of my runs on the balls of my feet, or at least on the midfoot. Part of the reason was because I was having some shin pain in my left leg during some races that would subside when I went from a heel striker to running on my toes.
My training pace times became faster, but I also hurt myself, and, as I've written ad nauseum on these pages, I had to sit out 16 days nursing a strained Achilles tendon, lower calf pull, and plantar fasciitis in my right leg.
I thought it was just bad luck. But the Science of Sport people have made me think twice. They say that for a non-elite to do most of his or her runs on their toes would be inviting the very kind of injury that put me on the sidelines to begin with. (As I write this post, my Achilles in both legs are a little achy and I now believe its because I changed my running style).
The Science of Sport post says if you wanna change your running form, you should do it gradually, not overnight like I did. Turns out, I'm lucky I didn't hurt myself more than I did.

Another glass of 5ksandcabernets
One of my coworkers, whose blog is titled: Circle30, has "tagged" me. She has asked me to play the, "Six-word memoir" game. It is from a recently released book titled, "Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure." The book has only been out since February 5, but if you type "Six-word memoir" into Google, you get more than 50,000 search results.
Needless to say, The. Memoirs. Are. Sweeping. The. Nation.

Here are the rules:
1) Write your own six word memoir
2) Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you want
3) Link to the person that tagged you in your post, and to the original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere
4) Tag at least five more blogs with links
5) Leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!

Here is my six word memoir: Running. Wine. Sex. In that order.
Yours: ?

Tagging: Distortedveracity, My-momoluges

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Tuesday, April 1, 2008


I've heard of gaining weight because of water retention, but this is ridiculous. I was 166 pounds when I stepped on the scale Monday morning. This morning: 170.
It was 5:30 a.m. and so I was a little groggy, up early to run with the Luke's Locker group. So I got off the scale. Adjusted it. Got back on. 170.
I went to the bathroom and got back on the scale. 170.
What the #%&*@#*
How can this be? Four pounds in one day?
I thought back to what I ate Monday: A glass of soy milk in the morning. A sandwich and soup from Panera Bread for lunch. Some sourdough pretzels and chocolate moth balls for a mid-afternoon snack. Some chicken noodle soup for dinner with a glass of wine. A cinnamon roll for dessert. A cup of hot tea sweetened with blackstrap molasses before I went to bed.
This hardly looks like a feast for a King.
After my 6-mile tempo run (in 48:54), I got back on the scale. 166.
But I know better. You are always lighter after a run because of the water you lose through perspiration.
If anybody has an idea of how I can gain four pounds of water in one day, let me know.

Additional item
It's April Fool's Day. Click on the web site aprilfoolsdayontheweb to see how many of us were duped today. (I'll admit. I tried sending a Gmail message back to the future.)

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