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5ksandcabernets: December 2008


Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Year in Review: Running


1. Running my first sub 20-minute 5k, a 19:25 on Thanksgiving at the Fort Worth Turkey Trot. This was a PR by 1:36 over a run I had just 40 days earlier. Also on Thanksgiving, 30 minutes after running my 5k pr, I ran a 10k pr (44:25).

2. White Rock Lake Marathon: OK. A 4:08 was 30 minutes slower than I thought Id be, but the conditions were awful and I still had a ton of fun despite the cramps. And seeing it all scrunched down to a 7-minute video was kinda cool.

3. First sub 1:40 half marathon: On November 2, also at White Rock Lake, I crossed the line in 1:38:59. I felt fresh and springy, despite the 60 degree temperatures and the big hills.

4. 20k race in September: This was my first race of any distance longer than a 10k in which I was able to do the majority of the miles in sub 8:00 m/pace. In fact, after the first mile, ever mile of this race was sub 8s and I wound up crossing the line in 1:37.

5. My first 20-mile training run of the year. No cramps. No bad patches. On Oct. 11, I ran 20.25 miles in 2:53, a pace of 8:33 a mile. In the run-ups in my two previous marathons, I never had a 20-mile training run where I averaged better than 9:45. On this day, it was 67 degrees (same starting temperature as the marathon. I took a Gu and two ecaps before the race and hydrated every two miles). Hmmmm. Should have used this system for the marathon.

2008 Race Log

Marathon, Dec. 14........ 4:08:34 (pr)
10k, Nov. 27.......................44:25 (pr)
5k, Nov. 27..........................19:25 (pr)
Half marathon, Nov. 2.....1:38:59 (pr)
5k, Oct. 18..........................21:01
20k, Sept. 20...................1:37:14 (pr)
10k, Aug. 31........................48:08 (Nike Human Race. 95 degrees at the start)
25k, July 20......................2:31:57 (pr) (El Scorcho. Midnight run. 85 at start)
4-miler, June 29.................29:10 (pr)
5k, May 3.............................21:40
5k, Apr. 26...........................21:56
10k, Feb. 23.........................46:57
Half marathon, Jan. 27.....1:48:43
5k, Jan. 1...............................22:07


2008 Monthly mileage
Mar..............54.62.........8:50 (Missed two weeks, leg injury)


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Too much drinking, and I don't mean holiday drinking

Ok, promise, this is my last word on my White Rock Lake Marathon.

I'm going to spend the next year trying to figure out why I cramped so bad, taking 27 minutes to finish the last 2.2 miles. Like I said in my marathon report, I wasn't out of breath, and I didn't feel real tired (comparatively speaking - running 26.2 miles is tiring!)

So, I went back over my Garmin sportstrack readout and found something interesting. I stopped for water at 18 aide stations. And I didn't just get a quick swig and take off, I took two cups most of the time and drank every drop. Yeah, it was windy and hot (high 60s, 80 percent humidity), but I never felt thirsty. I just drank because there was water, not because I felt like I needed it.

And the bad thing is this: In training during long runs, I drank at every water station, but those stations were spaced two miles apart. Obviously, having taken water 18 times during the marathon, I was stopping almost every mile.

I literally washed the electrolytes right out of my body.

I was cramping soooo bad because there was no sodium or potassium left in my body. It was all on my face.

And why did I drink so much? I just wasn't paying attention. I did what I did in training by drinking at every station, but didn't take into account how far the water stations were spaced apart. Again, I know it was hot, but I've run in that heat _ or worse _ before. I've even raced long distances in worse heat. It was at least 70 degrees when I ran a 1:38 half marathon on Nov.4 and I only stopped at two water stations then.

I also think I didn't help myself because I didn't stretch enough late in the marathon. But I think the culprit is I drank too much. I was over-hydrated, giving me no chance to have a cramp-free marathon.

I could just kick myself.

UPDATE: Billy and Derek asked me a good question in the comments section. What about my use of electrolytes during the run? How could I forget such an important detail. Here is how I tried to "stay salty," during the marathon.

"I took 9 hammer endurolyte tablets, including the last three just before
mile 19. Each endurolyte capsule had, among other things, 40 mg of sodium and 25
mg of potassium. So, I guess for the first two plus hours, I had 360 mg of
sodium and 225 mg of potassium.This doesnt seem like a lot, I know, but if you
throw in all the water I drank, it made things worse, I think. I dont do well
with gatorade or power aide and in fact, late in the race, I started taking
gatorade endurance (because i was out of endurolytes) and things just kept going
down hill."

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

White Rock Lake Marathon Video: Kevin Lyons

Well, here it 2008 White Rock Lake Marathon video, shot by my co-worker, Andrea Ahles....It was hard for Andrea to get in and out of some of the places because of the traffic (and they wouldn't let her get a good shot at the finish line), but there is good footage throughout. You can see how bad the wind was in places _ the lake was whitecapping at points. I told Andrea before the marathon to shoot everything, the good an the bad - she happily obliged, and so you can see that I am cramping so bad at the end of the marathon that I had to walk...WALK...across the finish line. So wimpy.

Hope you guys enjoy and Happy Holidays.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

I'm working on the Coronary Hall of Fame

During marathon training, I went four months limiting my intake of dairy products, fried food, red meat, and soda. And when I say limit, I actually mean once a month on fried food and soda, once a week on dairy, and once of twice a week on red meat.
After the marathon, I rewarded myself with as much wine-drinking and bad-food eating as I desired.
I now know what the guy in the movie, "Supersize Me." must have felt like. I feel real yukky right now, having wolfed down, in just the past week, these list of items from the Coronary Hall of Fame: chicken enchilada plate; Gyro sandwich; chicken fried steak; 10-layer lasagna; guacamole burger; bar-b-que sausage plate; oatmeal with milk; chocolate cake; chocolate donuts; eggnog lattes; pappadeaux po boy sandwich with fries. Fries. Fries. And. More. Fries.
Get the picture? Writing all this stuff is making me sick. That's a lot of grease for one week, heck, for one month. I knew things were getting bad when, Sunday in Austin, I'm eating the chicken fried steak and I start getting a little dizzy from the smell of all the salt and chicken grease. I stopped halfway through and gobbled down a handful of TUMS. I used to lovvvvvve this kind of food, and now, having figured out how to eat right for the last four or five months, the mere smell of some of this stuff makes me nauseated.
I'm going to the store tonight and reload on the good stuff, fruits, veggies, turkey, rice, etc. Sounds boring, but you'd be amazed at how good things taste when you wash it down with a glass of wine.

Getting back into it

(Before I begin this post, let me say that there has been a delay in the marathon video, but I should have it up sometime Wednesday.)

So, its been 8 days since the marathon and I'm already thinking about when I'm going to do the next one.

But my body still needs to heal up. I'm probably at 90 percent now. I ran 3 miles last Thursday and 9 miles last Saturday. Felt real crappy at the beginning of the 9-miler _ could feel my hamstrings burning in the same place they were burning in the marathon, but by the end of the run, I felt great, was able to do each of the last four miles in sub 8s.

I was in Austin over the weekend hanging out with my kiddo, Noah. (That's him just before getting his first haircut). He knows how to say "No," really well, now. He shakes his head and leans back. "No," to vegetables; "No," to taking a nap; "No," to being picked up. But something else he said "No," to: Me and Nancy were taking him Christmas shopping and one of the cds Nancy has for him was playing in the car. At the beginning of one song, Noah starts shaking his head. (The CD was from the Baby Einstein Classical Music Collection.)

"What's wrong with him," I ask Nancy.

"He doesn't like that song," she said.

"How do you know," I said.

"Because I know what songs he likes and what songs he doesn't like," she said.

I was totally amazed. But sure enough, when I changed the song to "Noah-approved lyrics," he'd smile and clap his hands. I'd change the CD to another song, and he'd frown and and shake his head until I put the right song on.

Every time I leave Austin, I think Noah is the most amazing kid and then when I come back to Austin, he does something else even more amazing. I'm a lucky dad.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Advice from the marathon expert(s)

(Before I start this post, I thought I'd share this photo I found of the finish line of the marathon. Notice the guy who collapses just before the finish line. It wasnt me, but that's how tough a day it was. - photo courtesy of Dallas Observer's Unfair Park Blog)
On my post about the five deadly sins I made during the White Rock Marathon, I got some really interesting comments/tips. Myriam and Conrad think I should stick to a three week taper. Derek, Ryan, and Billy both agree that I may have had the talent to run a sub 4-hour marathon, but probably didn't run my long runs slow enough. Lindsay agreed that it is hard to stay level-headed when things go haywire and Susan, well, she thought I was awesome. (Check's in the mail, Susan!)

Anyway, before the race, I exchanged a few emails with one of the premeire running experts in our time, Jim Fortner. He runs the Jims2 Running Page, which has all kinds of articles on running a marathon and the like. He is in his late 60s now and has run more than 20 marathons. After the race, I emailed him about how I did, told him where I thought I screwed up and he was kind enough to email me back.

Here is our exchange. Very informational.

On Wed, Dec 17, 2008 at 6:40 PM, Jim Fortner <> wrote:

Thanks for letting me know how it went, Kevin. Too bad about the conditions and what they cost you. But congratulations on a PR!
I absolutely agree that not adjusting goal time and pace plan to account for the weather conditions was a big mistake. It is not possible to run the time/pace that are realistic for good conditions under bad conditions.
It is hard to back off of a goal that you have worked hard to reach.
Tempting as it is to "man up" and go for it, that simply doesn't work in a marathon like it sometimes can in a 5k.
I also agree about a 2-week taper vs. one of 3-weeks. I think that many marathoners taper too long and too deeply. The last long run two weeks out doesn't have to be the longest of a training program, but it shouldn't be one of just 12-15 miles, either.
I do disagree a little about one point. There are several factors that affect cramping. But the most common ones are trying to run a pace that is too fast for the conditions, as you did this time, and inadequate training to race (not just finish) the distance, not running out of fuel.
Boost your training mileage another 20%, set goals that are realistic for the conditions, pace better and your future marathons should improve and your cramping problems should go away....mine did.
It's a learning process, not just through reading and talking to others, but through firsthand experience and making mistakes. You clearly paid attention to what happened to you this time and learned from it. That's progress.

Again, congrats on the PR!


(I had one more question about fueling during the run and whether or not it could, "bring me back from the dead" during a marathon. Jim replied....


Refueling during the race affects energy level and can give you a boost.

But that's not the same issue as cramping. As you approach about 20 miles in a marathon, your body runs low on stored glycogen (carbs) and has to rely more on fat for fuel, which it won't run low on if you continued to run several times the marathon distance.

However, fat doesn't metabolize as efficiently as can't produce energy at the same rate from fat as from glycogen. Thus, it becomes difficult or impossible to sustain pace because the necessary energy just isn't there. Also, both glycogen and fat are metabolized aerobically. However, only glycogen can be metabolized anaerobically. The faster you run, the greater the percentage of energy is from anaerobic metabolism, the faster glycogen stores are depleted, and the earlier the "problem" occurs.

Compounding the problem, your brain can only use glycogen for can't burn fat. Thus, as glycogen stores get low, the brain becomes "starved". It goes into a self-preservation mode and starts to shut down your body physically to reduce energy generation and conserve glycogen.

The fuel in gels and/or sports drink is carbs, not fat. Refueling early in a marathon povides a readily usable source of fuel that helps to preserve stored glycogen. Refueling in the later stages supplements reduced stored glycogen and boosts energy level when both your muscles are relying more on less efficient fat and your brain wants you to slow down.

The above three factors combine to create what is known as "the wall".
OTOH, cramping is primarily caused by muscle fatigue, which is accelerated by running faster than you are trained to run and/or the conditions permit. Muscle fatigue can be exacerbated by low electrolyte levels, especially salt.

Most sports drinks and gels contain electrolytes which supplement those stored in muscles. So, although using them during a marathon may help to ward off cramps (whether they help at all is controversial), they won't overcome inadequate training or a pace that is too fast.

Think of electrolytes in supplements that you take during marathons as "insurance" against cramps, but not a primary controller of them....they won't offset a race pace that is too fast.

I hope some of this makes sense.


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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Five deadly sins: What I learned at 2008 White Rock Lake Marathon

I've had two days to mull over what went wrong at the marathon last Sunday. I ran a 4:08, a number I should be (and am) very proud of. But if I ran the race a little smarter, I could have smashed the 4 hour barrier. So without further adieu, here are the biggest mistakes I made during the White Rock Lake Marathon. (By the way, click here to see a MotionBased analysis of my marathon based on my Garmin 305).

1) Misjudged my talent: I ran four runs that were 20 miles or longer during training. The fastest overall pace in any of the runs was an 8:24 pace I kept for a 22-miler on Nov. 22, three weeks and a day before the marathon. The pace of my other 20-milers ranged from 8:28 to 8:42. During the first half of the marathon, I should have run every mile no faster than 8:30 because that's where my training was.
But what did I do? During the first half of the marathon, every mile after Mile 1 was faster than 8:30, including 8 faster than 8:20. I hit the first half in 1:49. I had never run the first 13.1 miles this fast in any of my long training runs.
And why did I think I could be so fast? Five days after my last 20-miler, I ran a 5K pr of 19:25, then followed that up 40 minutes later with a 10k pr of 44:25. During seven of my last nine runs before the marathon, my average pace for those runs was lows 8s or better. It was so effortless to run a sub 8-minute mile.
But I should have realized that the fast 5k and 10k times only meant I that I had the potential to clock some really fast marathon times. Potential. To reach that potential, I probably needed to average 55 miles or more a week during my 16 weeks of training. I averaged 41 miles a week, and hit 55 miles just once.

... Which leads me to my second deadly sin on marathon day.

2) Didn't readjust my pace to the weather. It felt so easy to run because it was so cold during my training runs. Two of my last three long runs were done with temperatures in the 40s. My 12-miler two weeks before the marathon and my 9-miler one week later came with temps in the 30s. So when I toed the line in Sunday's high 60s degree weather, my body was out of its element _ despite the fact that the first three months of training came in the steamy hot summer and fall Texas weather.
The thing is, I knew early in the week that the marathon would be hot and windy. And I knew by Friday that the winds would be in the 20mph hour range, and that miles 14 to 18 would be right into the wind. In optimal weather, with my training, as I stated in reason No. 1, I should have started the first half of the race no faster than 8:30 miles. With the heat, I should have backed that off to 8:35 to 8:40, and with the wind on the back side of the lake, Miles 14 to 18 should have been closer to 9:45 to even 10:00 minute miles.
But what did I do? Well, you already know that I ran my first half too fast. During the miles where the wind was right in my face, I tried to run through it, "man-up" so to speak. Miles 14, 15, and 16, I ran a minute per mile faster than I had any business running and by the end of 16 I felt the first cramp coming on. Many people get tired, or winded and can't keep pace. I cramp. That's how I hit the wall. And by Mile 20, because I'd used up so much energy, I was face to face with the wall.

3) Didn't pack enough nutrients. I packed four GUs and 9 ecaps in my fanny pack on marathon morning. I figured I'd have a Gu every five miles and two ecaps every hour. I thought this would be plenty of fuel for what I thought would be a 3:30 to 3:40 race. But because I misjudged what I would need in these weather conditions, I was damn near out of fuel by Mile 19. I remember that I had just three ecaps left at Mile 19. In training and up until this point in the race, I was taking two at a time with two cups of water. I decided to take all three just before getting to the Hooters girls aide station. In my race report post, I said I was able to run sub 10-minute miles during Miles 22 and 23 because I changed my stance. But as my memory gets clearer about the day, I was actually able to do some decent running because by the end of Mile 21, those ecaps started kicking in. But because I didn't have any more left, the cramps came back at Mile 24 and stayed with me, unfortunately, for the rest of the race. Nothing else after that would help. Not gatorade. Not pretzels. Not more water.

4) I panicked and forgot to replicate what I did in training. During my training runs, I stopped at every aide station, stretched any achy quad or groin muscle, and continued. I never got a cramp during my training runs. During the marathon, I lost my mind. I was so worried about keeping a good time that I walked fast through the aide stations, making it tough to drink water. (I managed two cups at every station, just like in training). What the heck was I thinking? And I didn't stop to stretch until Mile 16. By then, my quads and hamstrings were just about in knots. Near the end of the race, especially the last three miles, I couldnt think straight (and my co-worker who I wrote about earlier giving my the drill sergeant routine didnt make things any easier). There were some stretches I could have done for my quads, which would have bought me an extra quarter to half mile here and there, but I forgot all about those stretches. I panicked. Plain and simple. You know how they tell you to stop, drop, and roll if you are on fire. I should have stopped, dropped, and stretched, but during the final three miles, I kept run/walking and I was still on fire.

5) I tapered too much. Three weeks is a long time between your last long run and your marathon. At least it is for me it seems. My last long training run, 22 miles, was Nov. 22. By Thanksgiving Day, I had already recovered enough to run the 5k and 10k prs. On Dec. 6, I ran 9.2 miles in 1:14 (8:06 pace) and it was the easiest nine miles I'd ever run in my entire life. Again, the temperature was 30 degrees cooler than it would be during the marathon, but still, I feel like I was at my peak fitness level then. And yet, there was still one more week to go before the marathon. And what did I do? Lots of celebratory drinking, lots of short 3- to 4-mile runs. They all felt easy, but I could just feel the fitness oozing out of me. My body went on vacation one week before it was supposed to.
I think for my next marathon, I am going to run my last long run (maybe only an 18-miler) two weeks before the marathon instead of three weeks.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Cramps, wind, and a pr: White Rock Marathon Race Report

During the weekend of the 2008 White Rock Marathon, it was more appropriate to sail a boat or fly a kite than to run 26.2 miles into Cat 2 hurricane winds. Street signs were wobbling and pacers couldn't carry their pacer signs because they were being blown out of their hands. Combine that with the heat, mid 60s at the start, mid 70s and sun at the finish and I'd have to say it was one of the worst weather days I've ever run in.
To be sure, I've run when its been hotter. Anybody that knows anything about Texas summers _ when I did most of my marathon training _ knows that the morning low is usually hotter than mid 70s. Its just that when you've spent the last six weeks running some mornings with a hat and gloves and long-sleeve shirt, a day like Sunday is, how can I say it, startling.

But I survived and have a (really) long race report to prove it. (By the way, the race video is still being made and I'll have it for you later in the week). I'll list the numbers first for those who don't have time to go through my drivel.

Official time: 4:08:34
Overall place: 1,185 out of 3,878 (4:34:04 was time for average finisher)
Gender: 900 out of 2,426
First half: 1:49:52
Second half: 2:18:42 (A negative split? Hah. It was negative in a different kind of way.)

Saturday, Dec. 13. Wind and swag: The day before the marathon, I ran a short little two-miler before going to the expo. The run was a sign of things to come. On an out and back course, I struggled to run the last mile under 8:45 against a 20 mph headwind. I had trained to run an 8:00 m/m the whole way. So that kind of shook my confidence a little.
Nevertheless, I shook it off and picked up one of my running friends (Tamara - little did I know how big a role she'd play in my marathon) and we headed to the expo at the Dallas Convention Center.
I had heard there were big crowds there Friday, but those crowds had mostly streamed out by the time we got there. I got my bib, a shirt and we walked around for a little bit. Saw running guru Bart Yasso at a table signing autographs for his new book and sheepishly took a picture of him with my cellphone camera. I sampled a few foodie items from the vendors and then we left. I had a plain baked potato stuffed with chopped beef for lunch and a Pottbelly's A-wreck sandwich (no cheese), cookie, and juice for dinner. I pinned my bib to my singlet, got all my gus together, filed down my toenails, washed my socks and running shorts, charged my garmin and I was in bed by 10 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 14: Marathon morning: I had this dream that I missed the start of the race and popped up to look at the clock. 2:53. Shit. I went back to bed and let the 4 a.m. alarm wake me.
I don't normally eat much before a long run and this day would be no different. A piece of toast with honey and a glass of orange juice was all I was having. I got dressed and met a few other runners behind the Lukes Locker on University Drive by 5:15. Most of them had already run their marathon (San Antonio Rock N Roll in November) but were running a leg of the relay Sunday so I gladly accepted a ride with David, knowing how sore I'd be afterwards. Michael, a co-worker, rode with us as well and we made the 30 minute ride from Fort Worth to Dallas without one delay. (A far cry from 2007 when I got to the race with just enough time to pee, pin my bib, and sync up my garmin).
Another runner, Phyllis, had booked a hotel room at the swank W Hotel but couldnt run the relays because she hurt her knee in San Antonio. But she kept her reservation and about a dozen of us camped out in Room 303 during the final few hours before the start. The room overlooked the start line, and you could clearly see them putting everything in place, getting the balloons together, testing out the smoke machine, laying down the timing mats.
Inside Room 303, I took off my shoes and laid on one of the couches to relax. When I needed to go to the bathroom, I went downstairs in the lobby bathrooms. (Hey, we are close friends, but not that close).
At about 7:30, we were getting antsy and made our way to the start line, where I met up with Andrea, who was going to follow me around on the course with a video camera. "Shoot anything you want Andrea," I told her. "Don't just shoot me when I look happy, shoot the bad stuff as well."

I gave everybody a hug and went off to find the pacer groups. 3:00. 3:10. 3:20. I got to the 3:30 pacer groups and, remembering Saturdays run thought, I'd better keep walking.
I settled on the 3:40 pace group. 15 minutes to go. The wind is really picking up now. Blowing my bib so hard I hold it because it feels like its going to rip away from the safety pins. 8 minutes to go. I hear this sound, like the tearing of cardboard. I turn around. The wind has ripped off half the sign being held by the 3:40 pacer. It now just says, "3:4" 4 minutes to go. National Anthem. Hand over my chest. Heart is beating way fast. I move my hand over my stomach. Its rumbling. 2 minutes to go. They do the standard military flyover after "....home of the brave." One of the fighter jets takes aim at the W Hotel. Then he swooshes over it. But the way we were looking at it, with the angle we had, it looks like he was going to smash right into the building. We all gasp. I hear somebody utter, "Man, I thought we were fenna have another 9/11 moment." Fenna. Good to be around Texans.

The gun goes off and the confetti whirls around and we are off. "Thank God - now comes the easy part," I remember thinking. I had made a promise to myself that I'd really try to enjoy the first part of the race, hold back and not worry so much about pace. I promised I would take in all the scenery. But folks, I got nothing for you. The first part of the run was non-descript. There was a guy with a wig. Another guy with the picture of his deceased love one on the back of his shirt. Two buys running the relay in a bikini. There were a few rolling hills and the crowd size was outstanding. There were so many of us that I spent most of the first five or six miles watching my step, making sure I didnt step on people or that no one stepped on me.
Near the end of Mile 5, I run into Andrea. She'd signed up to receive my tracking reports and thought she'd know where I was. But they never sent a report to her phone until the halfway point. So when I passed her, she was just standing there. "Andrea," I shouted. And she takes off running after me, I slowed a little so she could take some pictures and she shouts, "You are going to owe me big time." I laugh on keep going.

Mile 1: 8:47
Mile 2: 8:02
Mile 3: 8:18
Mile 4: 8:15
Mile 5: 8:25
Mile 6: 8:25

At Mile 6, we cross over Central Expressway and into the residential neighborhoods. I took two ecaps at this point. It is also the point where we split up with the half-marathoners. (In the half-marathon race, this guy had a 30 second lead on the pack and made a wrong turn with the marathoners at this point, running for 30 seconds before realizing he'd made a wrong turn. He wound up finishing sixth).
With the crowd (spectators and runners) thinning, I could settle into my pace and not worry about running into people, some of whom were already walking at this point. There is noooooo way I'd ever enter a marathon if I couldnt at least run the first part of the way. I took my first hammer chocolate gu and started feeling my stride, ripping off my two fastest miles at 8 & 9, which is right before we hit the lake in the White Rock Lake marathon. I kept up with the water at every aide station and still felt okay at this point. This would be my fastest stretch of the course and the last time I'd have the wind at my back.

Mile 7: 8:15
Mile 8: 7:59
Mile 9: 8:01
Mile 10: 8:15
Mile 11: 8:22
Mile 12: 8:13

Ok, this is where things got interesting. I passed the halfway point in reasonably good shape, right at 1:50 and I remember clapping my hands when I crossed the halfway marker. But I was feeling a little tired and decided to readjust my goals, from a 3:40 marathon to just getting in under 4 hours. I made the right turn around the lake and the winds are just howling. I felt like I was running in slow motion. It was worse, if you can imagine, when there were crosswinds off the lake. You were literally being blown sideways.
This is probably where I made my first tactical mistake. Remember the 8:45 mile against the wind the day before the marathon? On fresh legs? Well, instead of slowing down, preserving energy, I tried to keep my same pace. I mean, at one point I slowed and then people started passing me and instead of running my race, I tucked in behind them and tried to keep up. Thought i was drafting, but that wind was so stiff, so mean, I was back to running in slow motion.
It felt like I was in the middle of an old, grainy NFL Films video and the-late John Facenda or Howard Cosell was narrating. "And....there.....he......goes."
I sucked down another gu, my third to this point, and two more ecaps....I'd feel good for a little bit, then start dragging again. Around Mile 15, I felt that oh-so-familiar twinge in my right quad. Dammmmmmnnnnnnnnnit. I stopped and stretched and ran a little more. At 16, I ran into my co-worker, Michael, and another runner friend, Tara. They had already finished their leg of the relay when they saw me. I told them I was starting to cramp up and they ran with me for about a mile before turning off.
I knew the cramps were going to hit at some point in the race, but I was absolutely shocked at how early they came on Sunday. Ever since I started taking ecaps, I had never cramped during a long run. Never cramped. And during training, I went 20, 21, 21 and 22 on four of the last seven weekends before tapering. But here I was Sunday, right leg cramping, left leg about to give way. And another thing: My Brooks Adrenalines, which had been a Godsend during all my long runs, were causing me blisters on the inside of my right foot. They always say be prepared for something different to happen to your body during the marathon, but that was totally surprising. (When I got home, I took my socks off and realized I'd worn a hole in my right sock where a blister was forming. Never happened before. Never.)

Mile 13: 8:31
Mile 14; 8:43
Mile 15: 8:50
Mile 16: 8:48
Mile 17: 9:21
Mile 18: 9:54

As we turned off the lake and into the neighborhoods to go back to downtown Dallas, I just had this sinking feeling. In every run where I've had cramps _ 2005 and 2007 marathons, 2008 El Scorcho 25k) I've never recovered. The cramps have been so debilitating, so crippling, that my pace would drop 3, 4 and sometimes 5 minutes.
Near the end of Mile 19, I hear this big ruckus. A guy on the loudspeakers. "Congratulations, you've run 19 miles. Way to go," he yells over and over into the now-70 degree air. There is this big line of Hooters waitresses giving out water and gatorade. All kinds of eye candy. I tried to run through this throng of silicone, but my legs wouldnt cooperate. Took two (D?) cups of water from a girl who looked like a Buffy or a Heather and kept going. We made a right turn and I realized that the Mile 19 sign was still a 50 yards away. No fair, I thought. The guy on the loudspeaker tricked us into thinking we were further along than we were. There was a lot of that Sunday, lots of people saying, "You are almost there," and "That was the last big hill." Seriously, I wish someone would be honest and say, "You look like shit and there is still a long way to go."
From near the end of Mile 19 to Mile 21 was where the Dolly Parton hills began (seriously, this is what they call them. No wonder Hooters sets up shop there), and my legs were noooooooo match for them. I was shuffling past this one house when both legs just gave way. Calves and hamstrings on both legs. I put my hands down to break my fall. A lady who owns the house saw the whole thing and offered me some water. I was so delirious at this point, head so fuzzy that I didn't realize that she had already opened the water bottle. I was gnawing on it with my teeth, trying to use my shirt to get the cap off when I realized it was already open and sucked it down. To the lady who owns the house on Tokalon Drive: "Thank you very much."
By now, I had taken the last of my ecaps and had one gu remaining and was kicking myself for not stuffing more in my fanny pouch before I left the house.
Sometime around Mile 21, I ran into Christa, another Lukes Locker runner who was just out helping run people in. Christa is a fast runner, having run 3:35 in San Antonio, though I'm usually faster than her in shorter races and shorter runs. She got beside me and started running, no, make that jogging, and I just couldnt keep up with her. As she got further and further away, she looked back and held out an imaginary string and said, "Kevin, you can keep up because I am pulling you on this string." I replied, "I hope your string is not elastic because if it is, it's going to break or snap you back here with me." As I finished Mile 21, I had no idea about the tragedy that had happened at this point some 5 minutes earlier, when a 29-year-old Austin woman collapsed and later died at a Dallas hospital.
As I crested the last big hill of the race, I remembered thinking that it would get easy at Mile 22 when we ran down Swiss Avenue. I also decided to change my running style. I had remembered reading somewhere that sometimes the cramps are because your spine isnt sending the right signals to the affected muscles. (Or at least thats what I remembered that i had remembered at the time). So, I squatted down, like I was sitting on a stool and ran like I was sitting on a jelly jar or the potty. I put one foot in front of the other and tried to make the best of it. And I was running and running and running and the cramps seemed to subside and I started passing people and it was probably the best feeling I had during the whole race. I ran by Andrea for the last time and managed to crack a smile. (Thats right, I thought, she won't get me on camera limping around).
With three miles to go, my garmin read 3:23. I did some quick math and thought a sub 4 hour marathon was totally doable. Then I laughed at myself because four hours ago, I thought four hours was in the bag. And anybody wearing garmins during marathons know that you will alwayyyyyyyyys run longer than 26.2 miles. Four hours was going to be a stretch, I thought.

Mile 19: 9:37
Mile 20: 12:03
Mile 21: 11:15
Mile 22: 9;15
Mile 23: 9:47
Mile 24: 10:57

Near the end of Mile 23 I ran into Michael again and at Mile 24 we ran into Tamara, my friend from the expo, who had already finished up her relay leg. Just like Christa, Tamara looked at me and said lets go and took off and looked shocked that I couldnt keep up with her. In shorter races and runs, I am faster than Tamara (who ran 3:43 in San Antonio) and Michael.
But my legs WOULD. NOT. MOVE. And any attempt at anything under an 11-minute mile would make them revolt and cramp up on me. My lungs were fine. My heart was fine. But my legs were seizing and cramping. Yeah, that little trick I had used to get sub 10s out of my legs at Miles 22 and 23 was not working anymore. Something else was worrying me, too. I wasn't sweating. My face and arms were coated with salt, like I had walked through a windstorm in the desert. I figured that the wind was evaporating all the sweat, but for some reason, I knew this couldnt be a good thing.
I was back to running, stumbling from a cramp. Stretching. Walking. Thats how it ended. Run. Stumble. Stretch. Walk. Run. Repeat. The cramps would come on, mostly in my hamstrings, and I would just stop in the middle of the street and bend over. No sense in wasting any energy by running over to the side. So to anybody who nearly ran over me, or who had to put up with the site of my butt, i am sorry.
The race web site has this neat little gadget where you can input your name and itll tell you how many people you passed during the final 6.2 miles. I passed 42 people during the last 10k. Which means those people were hurting much worse than I was. But I was passed by 212 people. Yikes.
Michael, a really nice guy, was doing everything he could to coax me. I'd stop. He'd say, "keep going." I'd say I'm cramping. He'd say, "No, you're not." Id say the cramps are killing me. he'd say, "no theyre not." Finally, I said, "Michael, stop talking!" I felt bad for saying that, but it just seemed to be making things worse. (Actually, as I think back, its hard to say what I remember most during those final three miles. Michael talking or me hurting. And I guess that's a good thing. I emailed Michael later Sunday night and apologized for yelling at him. He is a great guy and without him and Tamara getting me through those last three miles, I dont know how much longer it would have taken me.
By now i was sucking down gatorades and trying to eat pretzels and just hoping I could squeeze enough electrolytes in my body so I could make it to the finish line. I was starting to feel a little nauseated. Somewhere in the middle of Mile 24, the 4 hour pacer guy passes me. Oh, well, I thought. From all the zig-zagging, I actually ended up running 26.75 miles and when my Garmin beeped at Mile 26, the time was 3:58. "hooray, I thought."
A few minutes later, I hit the official 26-mile marker sign and knew I was not going to get in under 4 hours and might not get under 4:10 if I didnt hurry. I was real confused about how many more tenths of a mile I had to go, so Id ask Tamara. Four-tenth. three-tenths. two-tenths. There's the finish line and I decided I'll at least run the last stretch in. There were throngs of people on both sides of the course. I was still running. Over all the yelling and screaming I hear somebody call my name. Its my dad. I veer over 20 yards to high five him. He yells out, "You dont look like you need me to run you in this time." (In 2005, my first marathon, my dad ran out on the course to run with me for a few yards before I finished). 100 yards from the finish. I realized I'd made a big mistake. I shouldnt have wasted that energy to run to my dad. My left leg started seizing real bad. Hamstring. inner quad. 50 yards away. Tried to run some more. 25 yards away. Couldnt run. Tamara and Michael were yelling at me to run. Couldnt run. I thought about stopping to stretch and as soon as the thought hit my head, I could see the finish-line cameramen taking aim at me, their shutters clicking at the runners in front of me.
I figured the only thing worse than me walking would be a photo of me bending over near the finish line. So I had no choice. I walked across the finish line swinging my arms wildly, hoping my histrionics would show up on film making it appear that i was running.

Mile 25: 11:26
Mile 26: 11:10

Final .75 miles: 9:48

After the marathon. Even though I didnt get my time, even though the last three miles was like a death march, I was very happy. This time is 1 hour, 12 minutes faster than last year and a personal best by 33 minutes. It capped off a year of me setting personal bests. I feel like the conditions were just terrible, but I believe I could have had a better time if I had run much slower in the beginning, particularly from miles 13 to 18. I know I'll get under four hours some day, and then I'll look to qualify for Boston once I do that. I've got to figure out this cramping thing and once I do that, I'll be fine.

I'd like to thank everyone who has stopped by this blog over the last few months and weeks to shout encouragement or wish me well. The running community in California and New York are especially good experts at this blogging, running stuff. Over the next few days and weeks and recover and start to think about which marathon is next. The journey is not ending, its just beginning.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

White Rock Marathon: Race result


Not the time I had hoped for, and still haven't found an answer to the cramps, which started at mile 16 and made the last three miles a death march. But it was a brutally warm (temps in the 70s at the end) and windy day (20 mph headwind, gusts in the 30s). And this time is 1 hour, 12 minutes faster than last year's disaster, and a PR by 33 minutes. So, I'm very happy about that.

Anyways, I'm recovering and will write a race report later tonight.

Tragic side note: A woman from Austin collapsed at mile 21 and died later at a Dallas hospital. Organizers say it was the first time anyone has died at the White Rock Marathon.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Soundtrack of a marathon: Adagio for Strings?

No matter what happens Sunday during my running of the White Rock Marathon in Dallas, it is sure to be a memorable event.

The last two marathons, I've let the event photographer post photos online and then pay the money to have them ship a photo to me.

But this year, I'm trying something different. I've hired one of my co-workers at the newspaper to follow me around on the course. Andrea Ahles is going to shoot video and still photography and then give me a short 5-minute video of the event a few days later. How cool is that?

Anyways, I figured that a good marathon video needs good marathon music. I didn't wanna go with Chariots of Fire because that's just too hokey. Any of the Rocky songs would be too predictable. I love dance music, absolutely love it, and my favorite dance music artist is Tiesto. A few years back, he did a remake of a song called Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber. This song (Barber's original) is usually played at the funerals and wakes of famous dead people. It played hauntingly in one of the final scenes of the movie Platoon. (Barber died of cancer in 1981 and spent his final days clinically depressed. Maybe he was listening to his own music too much).

But the Tiesto version is very upbeat, very spirited and full of life and when you listen to it, you don't even know its the Barber song. The last 2 1/2 minutes of the Tiesto cover absolutely makes my spine tingle when I'm in the car listening, so I figured, "That's it. That's my marathon song. Here is a small cut.

The real cool thing is that Andrea, my co-worker, was willing to follow me around for 3 1/2 hours at White Rock Lake. So while I'm bummed that the weather is going to be a little warm (mid 50s to 70s), I'm glad Andrea will be comfortable. There was a little method to my madness in hiring Andrea, who is actually one of the business writers at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. She's an Ivy League grad (Penn) who attended the same high school in Hawaii as Barack Obama and she spends most of her days chasing around Cowboys owner Jerry Jones writing stories about the $1 billion stadium he is building in Arlington. So, she's got good karma (if you don't count the time last month that some stupid azz, in a fit of road rage, shot at her husband on Loop 820 - nobody got hurt, just a bunch of glass everywhere).

So, I'm hoping the good karma from Andrea rubs off on me and I have a good race.

Wish me luck

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Not the kind of anniversary worth remembering

In less than 72 hours, I hope to put up a good time crossing the finish line of the White Rock Marathon, culminating the best running day and year of my life.

I hope to do away with the demons that happened nearly a year ago, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2007, which was the WORST RUNNING DAY OF MY LIFE.

It took me 5 hours, 20 minutes to run the 2007 White Rock Marathon. The makings for this disastrous-marathon run had begun in November of that year. I was feeling real confident about my training up until that point, having run a then-pr 1:52 at the 2007 DRC Half Marathon. I finished out the pre-taper training with seven consecutive weeks of running at least 40 miles, and I figured I'd at least do better than my first marathon (4:41) in 2005, when I only had 1 week of at least 40 miles.

Still, something wasn't feeling right. A week after my half marathon, I tried to run an 18-miler and could only get through 15 before cramps got the better of me. Oh, well, I thought, maybe my body is still tired from the half. A week after that was my last 20-miler, and by Mile 18, I was feeling so bad that 10 minute miles were hard to maintain. When it took me 7 minutes to run the first half mile of Mile 19, I just threw in the towel and walked the last half mile to my car. If anybody was ready for a taper, it was me.

Three weeks later, I toed the line at the 2007 White Rock Marathon and had little idea what was in store. I didn't help myself that morning by eating a big bowl of oatmeal with chocolate soy milk (didn't know at the time that ALL milk products were bad for my running); didn't help myself by getting to the marathon just 10 minutes before the start (traffic on I-35 was backed up; didn't help myself by starting the race very very thirsty, lips dry and parched.

When the gun went off, I tried concentrating on keeping a 10-minute mile pace. (Its funny to type those words right now. I've gotten so much faster and can't remember the last time I ran a mile _ any mile, warm-up or recovery _ that slow). But I should have known even that would be a struggle. During training for the 2007 marathon, my heart rate would soar to over 80 percent max when I ran a 10-minute mile. Yet on this morning, I tried to soldier on. Because there were so many people at the start, I hit the first mile in 10:53. Miles 2 and 3 came and went at about a little more than a 10-minute mile.

I could never get my stride right, could never sync up my breathing. At Mile 4, I stopped to get the rock out of my shoe. Stopped twice, in fact. At Mile 6, I stopped for the first time to eat some sport beans and use the bathroom. Unlike my first marathon, where I was enjoying the surroundings of all the bands on the marathon course, this trip was miserable. It was cold and I was just not feeling it. Still, I thought I'd be okay when I ran a sub-10 minute mile at Miles 8 and 9. "Ok, I'm finally going to be ok," I thought as we hit the lake section of the marathon.

I started feeling this weird sensation in my right quad and knew instantly that cramps were coming on. "Cramps. Cramps WTF. Its 40 degrees. Ive tapered. How can I be cramping so early." I stopped and stretched during Mile 10 and started feeling a little better. Miles 11 and 12 were right at 10 m/m and then I felt the cramp again, so I stretched during Mile 13 and then got through Mile 14 in under 10 minutes.

It would be my last sub-10 minute mile of the race. I had taken a gu at Mile 12 and was already feeling tired again during Mile 15, breathing was laboring, quad was spasming up again. So I took another gu at Mile 15, which took me 11 minutes to finish. And that was my last sub 12-minute mile.

I didn't know it at the time, but I was just hitting the halfway point of the race. Not in miles, obviously, but in time. It had taken me 2:36 to complete 15 miles and it would take me a little more than that to complete the last 11.2. I was feeling so bad at this point. so bad. Both legs were cramping. My head was fuzzy. I was dispirited. When it took me 13 minutes to complete mile 17, I said, "That's it. I quit."

I tried finding a medic who would help me and I couldn't even get that right. By now I had stopped running and at some points I just stopped walking, hoping someone would see me and get me out of the cold. By now, the winds around White Rock Lake were picking up and so here I am, cramping, tired, hungry, mad, and sad. But I couldn't find a medic to help me, couldn't find anybody to help me get out of my misery.

So I just kept walking forward and every once in a while, I'd jog alittle and then the cramps would come and Id stop. The worst was the first mile after we got off the lake area. The Dolly Parton Hills. My garmin recorded a 17:35 for Mile 20 and a 14:06 for Mile 21. I couldnt even walk fast up those hills. But I kept moving. The sadness and despair was now being replaced by anger and it was at this point I made a deal with myself, that I would not quit, that I would get that medal. And so I literally would walk a 10th of a mile and run a 10th of a mile. I got through Mile 22, which was mostly downhill, in 12:42, and thought, "Yeah, me."

But Mile 23 took me 15:26 to complete. I think I only ran one tenth of that mile because my quads were hurting so bad. Still, I knew the end was near as we hit downtown Dallas and I just kept going. Miles 24 and 25 were done in the high 14s. At Mile 26, I gave one more burst of energy, walking and running to a 12:51 mile. Finally, with the end in sight, I limped the final two-tenths of a mile to the finish line.

Even though it was my worst day as a runner, i was proud that i didnt quit and gladly accepted my medal. It would take me a few months after that to figure out what went wrong. And I cant wait to see how all my hard work pays off this Sunday.

* Diet. I didnt know just a few months ago, but I ABSOLUTELY CAN NOT HAVE DAIRY in the days leading up to a key run. No milk, no soy milk, no rice milk. I know the last two products are not really dairy, but they affect me the same way. No cheese. Nothing. But there I was on the morning of the marathon with my big bowl of oatmeal and chocalate milk.
* Training. Yeah, I ran 40 miles for seven consecutive weeks, but my total mileage during the 16 week training period for the 2007 marathon was actually LESS than the total mileage during the same period for the 2005 marathon. At the begining of the 2007 marathon training program, I wasn't running much because my son, Noah, had just been born. So I was busy waking up every two or three hours to change a diaper or tend to a cry. I wasnt getting any sleep, and when I would finally get to sleep, I was in no mood to end my sleep to go running.
Also, I ran all my miles slow in 2007. I wrote earlier that in 2007, I only had 11 total runs _ 11 _ where the average pace per mile for the entire run was less than an 8:30 mile. I didnt do any tempo runs, no hill work, no intervals. I ran the 2007 marathon slow because I trained slow.
*Cramping. Even when I figured out I couldnt have dairy, and even when I figured out I needed to run more fast miles, I still didn't get the cramping under control until late this summer, when a friend recommended I try Hammer Endurolytes. I started taking them in August, two every hour during a long run. Hadn't had one cramp since.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Marathon taper: the final days

Today I just wanted to go out for a 30-minute run. Ended up running a little faster than I intended to (7:23 pace). My legs are really fresh right now and I can't wait for marathon day to get here. I snuck a peek at the weather forecast for the first time and Sunday morning may be a little warm: mid 50s in the morning and a high of 70, lots of wind.

That's not ideal marathon weather, but if its as warm as they say its going to be, that takes some of the pressure off of me.
I know I'll have to run slower at the beginning, so I'll be less concerned about time and this will help me enjoy my surroundings a little more. It's a big party at the White Rock Marathon, so I might as well have fun, right?
Also, the warm weather means I can wear shorts and a t-shirt which is my favorite running apparel. I hate gloves and long sleeve shirts and wool caps. It means I won't be freezing at the start of the race.

S0, with the heat, I may not make my time of 3:30, but 3:35 to 3:45 is totally doable and it would still be 100 minutes faster than the marathon I ran in 2007.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

My first marathon: 2005 White Rock Marathon

It's marathon week and I thought I'd write up what I remember from my first marathon.

The inspiration to run this marathon had actually come a year earlier, in 2004. I went to the marathon expo and was absolutely amazed at all the attention given to the event and the runners.

Before, I thought the marathon was just about running 26.2 miles. But watching all the people at the expo, the vendors hawking stuff, the runners checking their registration, made me understand that this was an event for the everyman, the Super Bowl for the couch potato. So right then and there, I decided I'd run the 2005 White Rock Marathon.

In the summer of 2005, I went on the NYRR web site and copied the program for the basic marathoner. It called for three 20-milers and nine weeks of at least 40 miles. The total mileage for the 18-week program (which included the three-week taper) was 659 miles. Well, I didn't come close to doing any of that. I did two 20-milers. Hit 40 miles just once. And my total mileage for the program was 529 miles. I didn't do any speed work, or hill work, or interval training. But I did lose a lot of weight, going from 165 to as low as 149 pounds before going back up to 155 during the taper.

I was ignorant about what it would take to finish and toed the line on Dec. 11 2005 with tons of confidence.

Here is what I remember from the race...

*I was so pumped. I drove to the race listening to the Rocky soundtrack. "Gonna fly now...." I was getting the chills, visualizing myself run across the finish line just like Rocky running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I was wearing my heart rate monitor and my heart rate soared to 140. 140! I was sitting in my car and my heart was working as though I was running. I had to stop playing Rocky and put in some Yanni (don't ask how that CD was in my car) so I could calm the hell down.

*I got to the race with just a few minutes to use the bathroom at the American Airlines Center (The start was near where the Dallas Mavericks play). I ran to where I saw a big crowd of runners lining up. The gun goes off and we start running. Before I got to the official starting line, a woman points at my big and says, "This is the half-marathon start. The marathon start is over there." That's right. I was in the wrong race. I turned around, ran against the grain of thousands of runners and sprinted to the marathon start. Not good to start 26.2 out of breath.

*At about mile 2 or 3, I heard someone call out my name. I turn and see its my high school algebra teacher, Mrs. Thomas. She asked how I was doing and it was in the same tone of voice she used to ask me about my homework assignments 20 years earlier. She was in her 60s now, running her first marathon and her goal was not to finish last and to finish under 7 hours. We ran for a few minutes together and parted ways. I looked her time up after the race and was happy to see that she easily surpassed her goals.

*The first 6 or 7 miles seemed like this huge party. Bands were playing. People were cheering and I felt absolutely great. Running was effortless. The weather was absolutely perfect. Mid 30s, not a cloud in the sky. No wind. I wore a knit hat, gloves and a form fitting shirt and by mile 3, I had thrown away my hat.

*Right before we hit the lake is where I made my first mistake. I had run all my long runs in the high 9s or 10s (minutes per mile). But I remember thinking that the running computers said a person with my 5K speed (21:38 at the time) could run a 3:30 marathon. And I was feeling so good, so I just let my legs carry me and wound up doing miles 7 to 14 in about a 9:00 mile pace...way too fast. I hit the halfway point in 2:10 and figured, at the very least, a 4:20 marathon was possible.

*At about mile 15 or 16, just after this picture was taken by an ex-girlfriend who was following me on the course, I started getting tired. More out of breath than anything. I slowed down and completed miles 15, 16, and 17 in right at 30 minutes. I did Mile 18 in exactly 10 minutes, putting my total time at 2:55.

*At about mile 19, we get off the lake and head back toward downtown Dallas, but first there were the Dolly Parton hills to climb. I got up the first one okay, but I felt a little twinge in my right quad going down one of the hills. I'd never felt that pain before during training and thought if I just kept pushing forward, it would go away. It didn't. And in fact, I started feeling the same pain in my left quad. Then both hamstrings started cramping. I'd been running in the mid to high 9s before my leg maladies, but the cramping was crippling. From Mile 19 to 22, I couldn't turn on the gas and stopped a lot to stretch. It was a struggle to run faster than a 12 minute mile.

*Mile 22 is mostly downhill on Swiss Avenue and this was my last hurrah. And that is relatively speaking because it took me 11:43 to complete, and it would be the last time I'd run faster than a 13-minute mile the rest of the race. That's right. My pace had slowed by four minutes from mile 17 to mile 23. I was hurting real bad at this point. I remember people I had passed earlier in the race, at mile 9, 10, and 11, were passing me now. Some would run by me and say, "Hang in there rookie." Rookie? How did they know this was my first marathon? I figured out later that they gave first-time marathoners a blue bib.

*By Mile 24 I was absolutely miserable and mad, mad that I couldn't run even though I was not out of breath. Mad that these cramps had never happened in training so I could know what to expect. But I was not going to quit. That never crossed my mind. I just limped along. It took me nearly 14 minutes to complete mile 24 and another 14 minutes to complete mile 25.

*On the final turn, I could see the finish line and all the cheering spectators. I tried to run the final 2/10ths of a mile, but my quads were threatening to give way, so I walked. And I felt pretty embarrassed. My mom and dad were among the faces in the crowd and as I neared the finish, my dad runs out on the course with me. It was just like in the movies. "Come on now, I didn't raise somebody who was gonna walk to the finish line." Grimacing with each step and thinking that he doesn't know what he was talking about, I told him thanks for coming out and my legs hurt. He said, "OK, well, you are almost home." Then he rejoined my mom on the sidelines. About 50 yards from the finish, I decided I would run it on in, no matter what. And that's just what I did, passing my good friends Chuck and Allynson, who were watching from the stands.

*At the end, I raised my hands in triumph and stopped as soon as I crossed the timing mat. My official time 4:41:34, a pace of 10:45 min/mile. 21 minutes slower than my goal.

*A volunteer gave me the foil wrap to put around me and someone else gave me a medal. I took another step and both legs started cramping and gave way. "Medic! Somebody shouted, and the next thing I know, I'm in a wheelchair and they are rushing me to a cot to work on my cramps. It was pathetically pitiful. My then girlfriend at the time must have thought I was the sorriest looking thing she'd ever seen. They iced me down, gave me a Gatorade and in 10 minutes, I was well enough to get up and join my family.

*My emotional state was more anger than jubilation that I had finished. When I got home, I thought, "I'm never doing that again."

Splits/heart rate

1 - 10:27 - 155

2 - 10:27 - 155

3 - 9:58 - 153

4 - 9:56 - 156

5 - 9:40 - 159

6 - 10:24 - 155
7 - 9:03 - 160

8 - 8:49 - 160

9 - 8:49 - 158

10 - 9:30 - 158

11 - 11:19 - 153

12 - 8:56 - 160

13 - 9:03 - 162
14 - 9:12 - 161
15 - 9:40 - 161

16 - 10:03 - 159

17 - 10:07 - 161

18 - 10:00 - 162
19 - 11:23 - 156

20 - 12:04 - 158

21 - 12:19 - 157

22 - 11:43 - 156

23 - 13:45 - 148

24 - 13:50 - 148

25 - 13:50 - 148

26.2 - 17:00 - 149 (4:41:35)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Marathon: The day is almost here.

In just under 8 days, it'll be time to throw all that training at the White Rock Marathon. Today, the schedule called for a 9-miler, the last run of over an hour that I am supposed to do. I warmed up the first three miles and did the last six at my marathon pace. It felt real easy. Very easy to do 6 of the last 9 miles in exactly 48 minutes. I feel very very confident I can hold this pace for an entire marathon, which would have me crossing the finish line in 3 hours, 30 minutes.
Next week will be about taking it easy and watching what I eat. Since I peaked out at a 55-mile week before I started tapering, I have put on about 4 pounds in the last two weeks. (Too much celebratory adult beverages, too much dairy - Pizza is going to kill me one day). Funny thing is I had all these aches and pains in my legs and feet before the taper, and now I'd say nothing hurts anymore. My left knee is still a little wonky, but its nothing I'm really worried about.
I know over the next 8 days I'll spend wayyyyyy too much time over analyzing my training and my past two marathon performances to see if I can glean something that may help me at White Rock. When I ran White Rock in 2005 and in 2007, I was not blogging, so I'll write race reports from both races (ugly, ugly) and share them with you guys this week.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Holiday pictures

Here are a few leftover photos from Thanksgiving.....

1) Noah on Thanksgiving morning. Has fork and plate in hand. "Hey dad, where is my turkey?"

These are my parents with their grandkids.....From left to right: Mom, Alexandria, Noah, Dad, Keith (in Tony Romo jersey), Cedric, Daniel.

Cedric, Alexandria, and Daniel are my brother's kids. Keith is my sister's kid. And you know who Noah belongs to.

This is Noah (r) and my sister's son, Keith (l) learning to play together. Notice all the dangerous wires from my entertainment system.

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Monday, December 1, 2008

November mileage

Here is my November mileage

Total miles: 191.15

Total runs: 23

Total time: 1 day, 1 hour, 41 minutes, 57 seconds

Average pace: 8:04 minutes per mile


Total 2009 mileage: 1,494.12

Total runs: 218

Total time: 8 days, 20 hours, 8 minutes, 28 seconds

Average pace: 8:31 minutes per mile


FW Turkey Trot: What it means for my marathon expectations

Before Thursday, my White Rock Marathon goal was to run a 3:30, which is an 8:00/mile pace. This was based on my training and my times in shorter race distances, particularly my half marathon time of 1:38 on Nov. 2 and my 5k time of 21:01 on Oct. 18.

And then came Thursday morning's double PR at the FW Turkey Trot, where I ran a 19:25 in the 5K (winning my age group) and a 44:25 in the 10k 40 minutes later.

Now what?

Since I began training, I've paced myself like a 3:30 to 3:40 marathoner. I felt like I was getting fast, but had no idea I had a sub-20 minute 5k inside of me. I know 5ks are not very good predictors of what pace one should run a marathon. It just shows your potential if you put in enough mileage. Still, it's kind of cool to plug in the numbers and see that someone who runs a 5K as fast I did has the potential to run a 3:10 marathon.

Potential. Well, I don't want to potentially blowup at White Rock, so there is no way I'm going to attempt to run that fast. My 10k time says I have the potential to run a 3:29 marathon, which is what I was aiming for all along, but remember, I ran that 10k on tired legs. I know could shave another 2 to 2 1/2 minutes off that performance, which would give me a 42 minute 10k, and the potential, the potential to run a 3:18 marathon.

My half marathon time of 1:38 aligns more closely of what I've thought I could run in the marathon. The running formulas say someone with that time could run a 3:31 full.

I may be getting faster, but my long-run confidence has not caught up to my short-race performances. A marathon is a different kind of monster and because my previous two marathons ended very badly, I am going to err on the side of being conservative in this race. What I'll do is start slowly the first five miles, gradually working my way to 8-minute mile pace. I'll do a full body check at the halfway mark and again at the 20-mile mark. If I'm feeling good, then I'll turn it on and see what I've got. If not, that's okay too. I just want to enjoy this marathon and come across the finish line feeling good about the training I've put in.

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