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5ksandcabernets: September 2008


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

September running totals

September miles: 169.99

Time: 23 hours, 37 minutes, 12 seconds

Number of runs: 22

Avg. Pace per run: 8 minutes, 20 second a mile

Avg. heart rate percent: 78 percent

Longest run: 18.25 miles in 2:37:13 on Sept. 27


Total miles in 2008: 1,109.81

Total time in 2008: 6 days, 15 hours, 55 minutes, 53 seconds

Number of runs: 170

Avg pace per run: 8 minutes, 38 seconds per mile

Avg. heart rate: 80 percent

Longest run: 18.25 miles in 2:37.13 on Sept. 27

WRITING UPDATE: Goodwill wants to set up shop in two affluent suburbs in Tarrant County. One little problem: Those suburbs don't want Goodwill.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

3:25 marathon running 3 days a week?

I've got a friend named Roberto. He is one of the faster runners during our Tuesday and Thursday morning training runs. And when I say fast, I mean his warm-up mile is 7:30.
So Thursday morning, after we complete our 5.8-mile hill course around TCU, I overhear Roberto talking to another runner who is having some apprehension about running a marathon. Roberto tells him, correctly, that if he'd just run slower, he'd be able to make the distance.
Then, he goes on to say that what he did to run a 3:25 marathon last year. I butt in _ politely _ to tell the other guy that if he'd increase his mileage, he'd also be on his way. Then I turn to Roberto and say, "Wow, 3:25. How many miles a week did you have to do to pull that off."
With a straight face, Roberto says, "I only ran three times a week. Tuesday (fast), Thursday (hills), and Saturday (long)."
Me: "Are you kidding? That's impossible"
Roberto: "Nahh, man. I'm not kidding. I guess I was always fresh for each run and never had to worry about injuries."
I guess some people are born runners.
Still, I love running wayyyy too much to only three days a week. Besides, I'm afraid if ran that little, what little speed and endurance I've put together would just wither away. No, I'm sure I'll need every mile and every VO2max training run to squeeze out what I hope can be a 3:30 marathon.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I won't get into politics in this blog. But this quote is soooo funny, I had to post:

"She's there holding a moose and Michael Vick is like: 'Why am I in jail?'

Chris Rock, on the Letterman show the other day, commenting on a picture of Sarah Palin standing next to a moose she had killed.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I like dreamin' even if it never comes true

Call me crazy, ok. Just crazy.
But after Saturday's 20k performance (1:37:15), I decided I could at least look at the time it would take for me, a 40-year-old male, to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
So I went to the Boston Athletic Association's Web site, clicked on "Qualifying" and laughed. It was all I could do to keep from crying.
To qualify for Boston, I'd have to run a 3:20 marathon. That's a 7:38 mile.
Hmmm. I ran a 7:50 for last Saturday's 20k. The only way I'm getting to Boston is via frequent flier mileage.
Oh, well. Nothing wrong with dreaming big.
As I said in an earlier post, I'll be very happy if I can keep an 8:00 m/m pace the entire 26.2. Believe me, I know I've still got a lot of work to do. I'm up to about 40 miles a week with a little less than 12 weeks remaining for the White Rock Marathon. I've got an 18-miler this weekend. My goal is to slowly increase my weekly mileage to somewhere in the mid to high 50s before I begin the marathon taper.
I should note here that the 18-week runups during my two previous marathons, my total mileage both times was less than 525 miles. In my previous 18 weeks this year, I've run 560 miles. So beating my marathon PR of 4:41 should be no problem. And running under 4 hours should be no problem. low can I go.....3:45?.....3:30....3:25....Hmmmm.
WRITING UPDATE: Here is a diddy about a guy applying to be the police chief in Fort Worth. One problem. He's in a little trouble on his old job.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Tour Des Fleurs 20K: Extended race report

*Long races humble you: How many times have you run a race longer than an hour, and in the last few miles, you pass someone you think you should be faster than: an older person, a person with a different body shape, a little kid. And you think to yourself, "How the heck are they faster than me." Of course, to think that aloud probably makes you a bad person, like you are high and mighty. But I bet its true for a lot more people than myself. That happened to me a lot Saturday. People who don't look fast are fast. And that's the thing I love about running. Its all on the inside, what you have in your heart, your muscular-skeleton system, your training, your genes.

*If I could run this course every day, I would. The White Rock Lake area is absolutely beautiful. Just beautiful. And there were tons of people out who didn't race, neighborhood folks on their bikes or walking their dogs, people on the lake in kayaks. Now, the scenery is not as nice as Austin's Town Lake, but it beats the Trinity Trails in Fort Worth, which is an out and back course along a river/creek bed that in places looks like toilet water runoff.

View Larger Map

*I ate right, I think: Usually, before long runs or races, I stuff my face with pasta the night before, thinking that's the right thing to do. But I've noticed that the beginning of those runs are usually very sluggish for me. I guess my food is still digesting. So this past week, I decided to have the big spaghetti meal Thursday night. On Friday, I ate like it was a normal day and Friday night, I had a few bites from a baked sweet potato and a slice of ham. On Saturday morning, I got up at 4:30 for the 7:30 race, had a bowl of granola (no milk) and a glass of orange juice. Then, 20 minutes before the race, I had a Hammer gel shot and took one Hammer endurolyte capsule. That worked out perfect for me. No stomach problems. Didn't have to pee a lot. The only thing I could have done differently was take a few more endurolyte's during the race because my right leg tried to stiffen up on me late in the race. But I think it had more to do with the crazy hills than not having enough electrolytes.

*Calm nerves are important: For the first time in any race, my heart was not skipping a beat before the race. Usually, I'm so pumped up with stress and anxiety that as they sing the National Anthem before the race, I'm nearly hyperventilating. Not so for me Saturday. I treated this run like a training run, knowing I could have a decent time without over-running this race, knowing I was going to go out slow the first half. It also helped that I had people to talk to before the race, which kept my mind off the task. Bloggers Rich, Bryan, and Susan talked about wine and hanging out; Kimberly, Chris, and Jenna, a few of the people I run with from the Fort Worth Lukes Locker, kept my mind off things as well. I was so relaxed at the gun that my first mile was my slowest mile of the whole race (8:26).

*Negative splits mean a positive race: Piggy-backing on the last point, I knew I wanted to go out much slower than I would finish, especially since I'd seen the course and knew there were some major hills on the second 10k. My goal, my goal was to run an 8-minute mile pace the entire way _ pouring it on at the end if I needed to. Running the first mile in 8:26 was perfect. And at the 10k mark, I'd run just two seconds a mile faster than I'd set out. (49:23). My avg heart rate for the first 10k was 82 percent. This 10k time is a little more than 2 minutes slower than my PR, so I still had a lot left in the tank for the second 10k, so I just decided to go for it. Still, running this fast for so long is uncharted territory for me. I kept waiting for the bottom to fall out: a spasming quad, burning lungs, low energy. But it never happened. Even though there were hills, and I mean a lot of hills, like four really big ones, I finished the second 10k in 47:45, a 7:42 pace.

*Sometimes, wearing a GPS watch confuses things: The people who measured the course, of course, measured it in a straight line. I spent the first few miles weaving around people, or zig zagging to a spot on the trail where I was not running on a slope. My Garmin 305 would beep at me at every mile, then I'd look up and notice that the actual mile marker was 20 to 30 yards away. Late in this race, as mile 9 turned into mile 10 and so forth, I had to do some quick math in my head. Uhhh, I'm actually just at mile 10.8, even though my Garmin says I just hit mile 11. So, I'll be running a total of 12.6 miles instead of 12.4. Folks, this is not a good feeling when you are near the end. I guess it would be like serving a 12 year prison term (and I've never been to prison) and the on the last day, they come in and say, "ooops, you got two more months.)

Garmin splits (It said I ran 12.62 miles. Guess I did too much zigging and zagging.) time Avg Heart rate for the mile
1..... 8:26..........................76 pct
2......7:44........16:11...........82 pct
3......7:51........24:02...........82.5 pct
4......7:51........31:03...........83 pct
5......7:36........39:29...........84 pct
6......7:42........47:12...........84.5 pct
7......7:25........54:36...........87.5 pct (worked harder because of the hills)
8......7:37......1:02:13..........87 pct (slowed down a tick)
9......7:42......1:09:56..........88 pct (another hill)
10....7:41......1:13:47..........88 pct (another hill)
11....7:25......1:25:02 .........87 pct (Mostly downhill)
12....7:49......1:32:51 .........88 pct (Major hill near the end of mile 12.)
12.62..4:24....1:37:15.........90 pct (poured it on to the finish line)

Here is the Motionbased hill elevation:

*What this means for the future: I ran all but the first mile in a sub 8-minute mile. The first half was much much easier than the second half. I think an 8-minute mile marathon is doable, which would give me a marathon time of 3:30. That would be more than an hour faster than my marathon PR. Stay tuned.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

A PR at Tour Des Fleurs


This was my PR time this morning in the Tour Des Fleurs 20K race at White Rock Lake in Dallas. I promise a full race report in the next day or so. But the pace, 7:50 minute/mile was better than I thought I could do, and I did a negative split, running the second 10k 1:41 faster than the first 10k.
Best long race I've ever run.
Also ran into several bloggers I read: Bryan, Rich, and Runnersusan.

More later....

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Stupid is as stupid does

What Josh Howard said about the National Anthem: Stupid

What people said about Howard and about what Mavericks owner Mark Cuban should do with Howard: Stupid and Scary. Cuban was smart to show the names and email addresses of the people who showed so much hatred. Stephen Rogers of Cable One should hope his bosses are not aware of the emails he sends out on company time.


Update: Cuban took the post down, saying that his stomach was turning and turning because he exposed the people who made the hateful Howard comments to the same hate they had inflicted on Howard.


My next race: a 20k

This is what I am running Saturday, the Third Tour Des Fleurs 20k race at the Dallas Arboretum round White Rock Lake. My goals: Have fun and finish strong.

Time goals: 1:42 (OK)

1:40 or better (Esctatic and proud)

1:37 or better (Woooohoooooo!)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The mornings you dream about

Tuesday morning was the kind of morning I've dreamed about since early May: Temperature in the low 50s. Low humidity.
A run on the schedule.
Today called for 7 miles, and it had to be the easiest "fast" 7 miles I've run. Ever.
When you've been running in the heat like I have _ 80 degree mornings with 70 percent humidity _ running in the 50s is like running with the wind at your back.
And that's just what I felt like Tuesday morning.
After a 1-mile "warm-up," I did each of the remaining six miles all under 7:30 including four of the six under 7:20. I was even running with Roberto and David (whose wife just had a baby, congrats, dude) two of the fastest guys in our Tuesday morning runs. At the beginning of Mile 4, they picked up the pace and I decided to stay with them.
When the beeper went off on my Garmin 305 at the end of Mile 4, it read: 6:57.
Now, I've run sub 7s in intervals all the time. But after intervals, you get to rest and sike yourself up for the next one. To have the strength in my legs and air in my lungs to run a sub 7 this late in a run, well, I was feeling pretty proud.
I slowed down at about the 5.5-mile mark as Roberto and David continued floating on the pavement around the neighborhood. Those guys are fast, real fast. I finished about 30 seconds behind them.
My final tally was 7.12 miles in 52:49. I did the last 10k in 45:01. If I'd been racing Tuesday morning, I would have run a PR by nearly two minutes. And again, I wasn't sprinting. My lungs were not on fire. My legs were not wobbly.
My heart rate average for the entire run was 82 percent of max, though it was at 88 percent near the end. I could have run another two or three miles at that pace.
The training is going nicely. Very nicely.

Monday, September 15, 2008

This is why I drive to Austin

This is what Noah has been doing:

*Point to what he wants while grunting.

*Say mama. Squeal.

*Walking since early August. (I'd say he is up to a 25-minute mile.)

*Grab a book he wants you to read, turn the pages, then communicate that he wants you to read it again.

*Put his hands together to pray before he eats.

*Play rough with me.

*Grab a broom and push it back and forth like its a vacuum cleaner.

*Make car noises when he pushes his little cars along the floor.

*Drink water from a cup (while an adult holds it).

*Grab the remote control, aim it at the TV and shake it, as though the TV will magically switch channels.

*Turn his head away from food he doesn't want.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

The cool thing about what I do now

What I like about my new job?
I can walk up to anybody I want and ask them any question I want: Why did you vote 'no' on that proposition? Did you hide any money? Are the police helping you? (I've never been afraid to ask anybody anything and this new writing job at the Star-Telegram is right up my alley).
I get paid to schmooze (sometimes with real famous people) and then to write about what I squeezed out of my schmoozing. There is nothing like a conversation over drinks with a councilman that leads to a story.
I get my name in the paper.
I work days, mostly. I don't have to lift anything heavier than a stapler.
The more you write, the more of a following you get. I won't have nearly the following I had in the 1990s, when I covered the Cowboys, wrote a column and was on a weekly radio show. But hey, writing about government is sure to bring out political wonk fans.
What I miss about my old job as an editor?
One thing. As an editor, you get to judge the works of others, and if their work needs help, you suggest ways the story can be better. If the story does not turn out great, the person who is ultimately judged is the writer. But as a writer, everything you do is subject to second-guessing. Write it stronger. Start it differently. Use a better quote. Talk to more sources.
If you don't have thick skin as a writer, then this isn't the job for you. (Good thing my skin is thick as an elephant's). Still, there are days when I'm a little sensitive, when the slightest frown by an editor reading my story can have me questioning my own confidence. But those days are rare. I think I'm a good writer and won't be undone by some editor who wishes I would have written "said" instead of "says"

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tempo run training

I'm really beginning to like Tuesdays, when I usually run a 6-miler with the gang from Lukes Locker.
But lately, I've been mixing a tempo run in with the run
This morning: warm up for about 13 minutes
Then 20 minutes hard, but not all out sprinting (I covered 2.97 miles in this time period, a 6:44 mile)
Then a 15 minute cooldown.
During the 20 minute hard part, I spent a little more than 11 minutes over 90 percent max heart rate. It was a hard workout and I was definitely ready to stop at the end, but I could have run another mile at that pace if I had to.
I seem to be steadily improving with this run. The first time I did it, on Aug 14, I covered 2.85 miles in 20 minutes. Two weeks ago, I covered 2.91 miles in 20 minutes, and today of course was 2.97.
At this rate of improvement, I'll be able to cover an entire 5k in 20 minutes by the first of October.
Today's pace would have given me a 5k time of 20:51. My 5k pr is 21:09. So, all these miles I've run and all this speedwork is paying off.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Coaching them to their first 5k

A few weeks ago, I was talking to my brother, Cedric, and his roommate, Robert, about running: Why I love it, how I do it, etc. I know I was probably boring them the tears, but at the end of the conversation, they both asked me to help get them started running.

Me? Be a running coach? Hey, why not, I thought.

I showed up at their house at about 9 a.m. Sunday. I wasn't real sure what either was capable of , but I knew I should take it easy. Both guys were in their late 30s. Cedric had last run one mile _ and I mean just one mile _ in 2005. Cedric, who is two years younger than me, had always weighed less than me until recently, when his new girlfriend's delight in making homecooked food had pushed his well past 165, maybe 170 pounds. (I'm sitting at 160 right now). Robert was an athlete in high school and lifted weights, but I suppose being a homeowner and the demands of his job are two reasons that have kept him from exercising much anymore. Robert is my height and weighs 240. (Hope he doesn't get mad for writing that!)

Anyway, before Sunday, I researched some beginning running programs, Couch-to-5K stuff. I figured we'd take this 1.5-mile loop around their house. My plan was for them to run 60 seconds, walk 60 seconds, until we finished. Both thought they could run more than that (60 seconds on, 60 seconds off) and said lets just run by feel and we'll tell you when we wanna stop.

Ok, I said, and we were off. We took Cedric's 11-year-old daughter (Alexandria) with us. Cedric did better than I thought he'd do, and after the 1.5 mile loop, he asked me to take him out for one more mile. He had to stop and walk for a little but was proud that he finished the mile in 11 minutes. He was also proud that he covered 2.5 miles. I was proud of him too. "Dude, just a half mile more and you've just about got your 5k distance covered." Robert completed his 1.5 mile loop and though he had to mix the running and walking a little more than he thought, we all felt a sense of accomplishment for him. He kept asking if he should be faster, and I knew this run may have taken a hit on his pride. Running, I told Robert, is not so much a macho thing. Its not like lifting weights, no pain no gain.

I was encouraged by the fact that both want to keep this up. I told them that if they can do what they did Sunday at least two to three other times a week, they'd be ready for a 5k in two months. On the weekends I'm not in Austin with my son, I plan to "coach them up" for the Turkey Trot in Dallas on Thanksgiving.

I don't care how fast they run, or walk. I just want them to have fun, finish, and remember the experience of running their first 5k.

WRITING UPDATE: Over the weekend, I published a story about a city councilwoman who is a defendant in a civil lawsuit that stems from a $2.4 million judgment against her husband in 1992. The plaintiffs claim the councilwoman and her husband have been hiding money from their creditors. Needless to say, when I got the councilwoman on the phone, she wasn't very happy that I was writing the story.

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Saturday, September 6, 2008

I'm getting this long-run thing down pat

My run this morning: Awesome. Best long run I've ever run. 15.95 miles in 2:17:38. Didn't cramp. Didn't get tired. Finished strong (last four miles in 32 minutes). By the way, this time is 14 minutes faster than my 25k El Scorcho hell walk in July.

Credit goes to three things: 1) I started slow. Real slow. First four miles in 9:24 pace. Remember how I griped about not having a coach to run with? This morning, they placed me in another group, a group whose runners had similar times to my times. So I didn't run by myself as much as I did with the other group. And the coaches in this group were great. But I guess it wasn't a coaching problem. It was a pacing problem in my other long runs. When there are 4 or 5 people in front of you running 8:30 warm-up miles and 8-minute miles coming out of the gate, you are going to get tired. But that wasn't case today.

The second reason my run went so well: I took two Hammer endurolyte caps. One at mile 4, the other at mile 10. I also took on Hammer gel at the 1 hour mark and honestly, I don't think I needed the hammer gel. The endurolyte caps kept me from cramping. At the end of the run, I felt a few twinges, but I think that's because I skipped the mile 14 water stop. I was feeling so good that I decided to take it on to the house. Of course, about half mile past the water stop I was like, "Ohh, I should have had some water." So I finished a little dehyrdated, but I finished and I finished strong.

The other reason: The weather. It was 69 degrees when we started. It is usually 75 to 80 when we start our long runs.

This run puts me at 41 for the week. I figure I'll run 40 miles a week for the next two weeks, then do a cutback week. In October, I'll do 45 miles a week for three weeks then do a cutbak week. And in November, I'll ramp it up to 50 miles a week for three weeks before I taper for the big marathon.


Friday, September 5, 2008

Put me in coach, I'm ready to run

I've complained to other runners that my "coach" on the Saturday long runs with the Lukes Locker marathoners doesn't really coach that much at all.

Let me set the scene: There are more than 100 of us who show up every Saturday at 6 a.m. at the Luke's Locker on University in Fort Worth. We get paired into groups according to our running times. I'm in the fastest group, though I am probably one of the slowest runners in the fast group, i.e., people in my group run their long runs from 7:45 to 8:45 minute per miles.

Anyway, within our group are two or three "coaches." They've run several marathons, some under 3:30 and closer to 3:00. The ideal thing would be for the coaches to run with you, make sure you are doing okay, hydrating enough, not running too fast, etc.

Now, one of the coaches has been injured so on a run two weeks ago, he rode his bicycle next to me for most of the run and that was nice. But most of the time, these coaches, who are really really fast, run with the lead runners in my group and I end up running most of my long run alone.

Now, I don't mind running by myself, but I did shell out some decent coin to get in this program and gawd-dangit I wanna make sure I get my money's worth. I'm not saying I need somebody to hold my hand through every mile and trust me, I'm not the kind of guy that likes to talk during a run. I'd rather use any extra energy I may have by breathing.

Still, I get this certain kind of energy when there are other runners around and I'll need all the energy I can get when running for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

I brought up my concerns to the guy who runs the Fort Worth Lukes Locker marathon program and he said he'll put another coach in my group who runs close to my speed.

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Taking me back to the 60s

It was 64 degrees when I awoke this morning. This is heaven for a runner, especially a runner who has spent the last three months running when the temp was in the high 70s and low 80s.

What's the difference in 15 degrees? On Thursdays, it usually takes me about 45 minutes or so to complete this 5.8-mile hill course around TCU and the Colonial Country Club, though last week I knocked it out in 44 minutes.

On this Thursday, however, I cruised up and down those hills in 43:18. That's 20 to 25 seconds per mile faster than I usually go, and an overall time of two minutes faster.

And it wasn't like I was just pouring on the gas and running as hard as I could. In fact, because of the cooler temps, I didn't have to work as hard. Last week, when it was 78 degrees, my heart rate average was 171 beats per minute (85 percent of my max). Today, my heart rate average was 168 beats per minute (84 percent of max).

I can thank Hurricane Gustav for the unseasonably cool temperatures. I think we have two more mornings where it will be in the high 60s or low 70s before the absurdity of this summer comes back.

Writing update: Monday I published my first real story of substance in the Star-Telegram. This piece was about how crime in one neighborhood has dropped in part because of the city filing a civil lawsuit against some gang members.

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Monday, September 1, 2008

My official results for Nike Human Race/Austin

Time: 48:08

Pace: 7:44 minutes per mile

Place in Austin: 427th out of about 14,000 runners?

Gender place in Austin: 373rd out of ?????

World place: 19,595th place out of 1,000,000?

World gender place: 17,953 out of ?????