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5ksandcabernets: Tagged: How I could've landed a job at ESPN


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tagged: How I could've landed a job at ESPN

I have been tagged by Derek and Laura. I figured now _ as I watch Game 3 of Lakers-Celtics _ was as good a time as any to reply to the tags. (The instructions are at the bottom of this post)

Here goes. (If you are a fan of the NFL and the NBA, you'll be interested in my last answer. Feel free to scroll down.)
1. How would you describe your running 10 years ago?
Non-existent. Seriously. 10 years ago I was closing in on 30 and I was drinking vodka-tonics at nightclubs instead of gatorades at training runs. I was smoking cigars like Arturo Fuente and Partegas and Padron and Punch and CAO and Hoyo de Monterrey. You got it. I smoked cigars before I even knew what a Cabernet Sauvignon was.

This was 1998, of course. And i was just starting to get into the "exercise phase" of my life. But that exercise was not running, not much anyways. It was weight lifting. I was 20 pounds heavier than when I ran my first marathon 7 years later. I was in the gym pumping iron 4 to 5 times a week and sometimes I tried running because I knew that cardio would burn the fat off my abs. But the truth is, when I'd run back then, I'd get real bad hives. My skin would itch _ no _ it would be on fire. It took me a while to figure out that I had exercise-induced urtircaria. I had to take an antihistamine like Allegra or Claritin to do any kind of running. I used the "hives" excuse and hardly ever ran. I didnt start running until 2004. I started working nights at my job and needed something to do in the morning. It took me three months to be able to run 3 miles without stopping. But once I did, there was no stopping me. By the way, I don't need the Allegra to run anymore.

2. What is your best and worst run/race experience?

Worst: My last marathon. The White Rock Lake Marathon in Dallas last December. I had already run one marathon two years earlier in 4:41 averaging about 28 miles a week with just one 40 mile week. During 2007 White Rock training, I pumped up the training with seven consecutive weeks of at least 40 miles with a 50 mile week three weeks before the marathon. But it didnt matter. Something in my diet conspired to make running near impossible on Marathon Day. Even though one month earlier I'd run a 1:52 half marathon, I couldnt run one mile under 9 minutes on this day and really struggled to run sub 10-minute miles. By mile 13, half way around the lake, I tried to quit. But I couldnt find a medic. So I kept going and going and finally decided to finish. I was cramping in both quads, both calves. My head was fuzzy because of too much water. But I finished, in 5:20 something. It's embarrassing to recount. But there it is.

Best: It's a tie between the very first race I ever ran, a 2004 5K and the very first half marathon I ran, in 2006. In 2004, just five months into my life as a runner, I ran the 9/11 Freedom Run in downtown Dallas. It was so exciting, so many people cheering you on. I finished in 24:37 and was absolutely hooked. Two years later, I ran my first half marathon. It was also at White Rock Lake in Dallas. I was hoping I could run a sub 2-hour half marathon. I finished in 1:54. Had so much fun the entire time.

3. Why do you run?
I'm addicted. Really. If you read my Six-word memoir link at the top of my blog, you'll see where I rank running. (Behind my family of course, but ahead of wine drinking and sex _ for now, I guess). If running was a drug, I'd be in a 12-step program. There is nothing like it. And the high is even more intense when you run with other people or at races. I've blogged about this before, but its like a religion, man. It's spiritual.

4. What is the best or worst piece of advice that you've been given about running?
Best: One of my co-workers who has run Boston told me the importance of good shoes and of slowing down to run further.
Worst: During my first marathon, in 2005, I let a volunteer talk me into eating an orange for energy. I love oranges, but they were not good on my stomach during runs. Still, I took the orange and paid for it for a few miles.

5. Tell us something surprising about yourself that not many people would know.Well, my closest friends and family know about this, but not many people in the blogging world.
So here goes: From 1991 to 2002, I was a sports writer for several newspapers, including the San Antonio Light (its now closed), the Hartford Courant, the Washington Times and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. At the Star-Telegram, where I am now one of the metro editors, I covered the Cowboys and the NFL for five years, and the Mavericks/NBA for a year. I've been to four Super Bowls (Cowboys-Steelers; Patriots-Packers; Broncos-Packers; Broncos-Falcons); an NBA All-Star Game in Philadelphia; and a Major League Baseball All-Star Game. I've played dominoes with Emmitt Smith (before dancing with the stars even existed); had hours long conversations with Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders; Troy Aikman and Nate Newton and Darren Woodson. Asked a question that made Barry Switzer cry. Shared toasts with Jerry Jones and playful bantering with Mark Cuban.
I've met tons of athletes. Seen tons of crazy games. Been to nearly every major American city. I'm happy doing what I do now. Sports coverage is a young man's game. But every once in a while, I find myself missing the games, the surreal drama, the travel to a new city. And sometimes I wonder what might have been: In the late 1990s, I turned down two offers to cover the Kobe-Shaq Lakers for the Orange County Register.
Earlier in the decade, while I was in Washington, D.C. in 1994, I interviewed for a job to cover Temple basketball and football for the Philadelphia Inquirer. At the end of the interview, the sports editor of the Inquirer at the time, Nancy Cooney, said, "I like you, but I think I'm going to hire this guy from New York who has a little more experience."
I said, "OK. I understand. Who is the guy you are hiring?"
Cooney: "Stephen Smith from the New York Daily News."
Years later, he'd be known as Stephen A. Smith of ESPN.
I was almost somebody.

Answer five questions about your running on your own blog.
At the end of your blog post, tag five other people and post their names.
Go to their blogs and leave a comment telling them they've been tagged and to look at your blog for details.When they've answered the questions on their own blog, they come back to yours to tell you. Tagging....

Firty N Dirty
Gandaman (You still haven't answered my first tag: Six-word memoir)

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Blogger Laura said...

I think it's hilarious that you were once allergic to running. Look at you now!

June 11, 2008 at 6:01 AM  
Blogger Bryan said...

Dude. First Laura, and now you. I guess I'll have to work on my answers today. Thanks. ;)

Thanks for sharing, btw...I always wondered who you worked for and who you covered in your sports writing days. That's really pretty sweet.

I know a couple of guys at the DMN, and my family is long time friends with a certain Dallas football broadcaster's family. It's definitely an interesting life.

June 11, 2008 at 7:22 AM  
Blogger GandaMan said...

Finally got a first draft memoir. Subject to change at any time.

p.s. El Scorcho is gonna be BIG this year. I've got a lot of work to do to get the race ready for you guys.

June 11, 2008 at 9:46 AM  
Blogger Victoria said...

So... then you won't be offended if I don't post the same answers again? :-)

Interesting stuff about you, though...

June 11, 2008 at 12:29 PM  
Blogger Just12Finish said...

Dude - you're already somebody in my book by that list :-)

June 16, 2008 at 7:16 PM  

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