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5ksandcabernets: January 2009


Saturday, January 31, 2009

Lake Benbrook Half Marathon PR

All you have to do is look at the elevation in this chart to know how crazy I was to even think I could get a PR during the Lake Benbrook Half Marathon Saturday.

Thing is, I didn't know how bad these hills were until the race began.

My goal was to average 7:20 a mile and that's exactly what I did, crossing the finish line in 1:36:01. But the fact that the time was exactly what I hoped to run was more about my Garmin 301 measuring the course long instead of me running 7:20 mile after mile after mile.

First, the splits: (My max heart rate is 201)

Mile===Time======Avg heart rate

I finished 30th overall out of 246 runners; 8th in my age group. (Damn, the 40- to 44-year-old guys are fast).

Now, some thoughts....
Did you see the elevation chart? There were a bunch of little rolling hills, then, at about mile 5.5, this big hill comes out of nowhere. Its the kind of hill where if you don't know how to drive a standard, I wouldnt recomend you driving up that hill. The course was an out and back, so we had to go up said hill twice.

This was a small race. 246 finishers. No finishers medal. Heck, there were not even any mile marker signs. And at each aide station, there was an old guy standing next to a card table pointing to cups. "Gatorade here, water over there." We had to grab our own refreshments.

This was the first time I'd ever run at Lake Benbrook, and let me say this: It was the dirtiest looking, dingiest looking lake I'd ever run at. Water was brown. Trees looked like not one leaf had ever grown on them. And then, there was this GoodTime Van parked in the bushes with a guy playing this crazy music. They could have filmed, "Friday the 13th" at this place and it would have been believable.

The good thing about an out and back is that I could see how many people were ahead of me, and people still on the front half of the course were telling me how many people were in front of me. "You are in 33rd place, Kevin," one guy told me. Then I was in 32nd place. Then 31st.

As you can see, Mile 12 was the slowest. I actually started feeling bad around Mile 10 but soldiered on. Come Mile 12, I just wanted to throw myself on the ground and contort and have a temper tantrum. I was just so sick of running by this point. I was tired of all these hills. At this point, I passed a 50-something guy named Jeff. I only passed him because he stopped for Gatorade. (I didnt take any GUs and only had water once, at the halfway point). But soon Jeff was passing me. We traded being out in front of each other for a few tenths of a mile before I finally put my foot on the gas and got to the finish line. My Garmin says I covered the last mile _ from 12.28 to 13.28 _ in 6:55.

As I said earlier, the Garmin said I ran 13.38 miles in 1:36:01, which is actually a 7:11 mile. Because I've run several races wearing this GPS device, I knew it was going to measure the course long. So as i rattled off 7:10s and 7:15s, I knew that I'd be running longer than a 13.1 mile race, and that I needed to be extra quick at the end to make my goal. Good thing I sprinted at the end or I would have been slower than what I wanted to be.

My previous half marathon pr came this past Nov. 2, when I ran a 1:38:59 at White Rock Lake, a pace of 7;33 per mile. That course didnt have nearly as many hills (though there were some crazy ones). My Garmin measured the course at 13.29 miles. According to my Garmin on Saturday, when I hit 13.29 miles, the clock read 1:35:35. Thats a 3 minute, 24 second improvement (unofficially).

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Lake Benbrook Half Marathon

Time: 1:36:01
pace: 7:20

This a Pr by 2:58. I will post a race report later.


Friday, January 30, 2009

Hoping for another half-marathon PR

Because of all the ice we've had lately, I've had to push my runs from the morning to the evenings when I get off work. I am running the Lake Benbrook Half Marathon Saturday so on Thursday evening's run, I just wanted to get out and move my legs for an hour. Comfortably hard. But not really push things. Keep the heart rate below 85 percent. Here are the stats:
8.32 miles in 1:01:56. Pace: 7:26. Avg heart rate: 79 percent
1 - 8:09 (warm-up)
2 - 7:29
3 - 7:08
4 - 7:12
5 - 7:07
6 - 7:22 (slowed down purposely. didnt wanna turn my training run into a race.
7 - 7:22
8 - 7:42 (warm down)
8.32 2:24
So, it looks like I may be ready for another half-marathon PR. I ran 1:38:59 at the DRC Half Marathon in early November. The only problem is the Lake Benbrook Half Marathon has worse hills than DRC. How much will I have in the tank at Mile 9? Mile 11? Mile 13? I'll soon find out. But I feel confident, especially since running sub 7:30s doesnt take a whole lot of effort. The slowdown on Mile 6 during Thursday night's run actually began in the middle of Mile 5 when I looked at my Garmin and noticed I was doing a 6:50 mile. It didnt feel like I was running that fast.
My goal Saturday is to run 7:20 miles. That would get me across the finish line in 1:36.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Super Bowl Week: Journalism and hedonism concentrated in 7 days

This is usually the week when I miss my former sports writing job the most.

From 1991 to 2002, I was a sportswriter at the now defunct San Antonio Light, the Hartford Courant, the Washington (D.C.) Times, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. From 1995 to 1999, I was the Star-Telegram's Cowboys/NFL reporter. And just like the players from Arizona and Pittsburgh, this time of year was Super Bowl week for me as well.

I covered four Super Bowls for the Star-Telegram. (I found my Super Bowl credentials in an old box. Don't laugh at the bad mustache). It wasnt the game that was exciting. Most of the games are blowouts (though John Elway's Denver Broncos win over the Packers did come down to the last few minutes). No, the fun part about the week was the travel (My Super Bowls were in Tempe, Arizona; New Orleans; San Diego; and Miami); and meeting up with all your old sports writing friends.

Our day would start at 9 or 10 with player interviews, we'd have lunch and write our stories. And if there was a player you didnt get to interview, no worry, because someone from the NFL tape-recorded every interview. Didn't hear Troy Aikman talk about how the Cowboys planned to use Deion Sanders on offense? Didn't hear John Elway talk about his icy relationship with Dan Reeves? Just walk on over to a table where everything that was ever said during the week is on pages and pages of quote sheets.

Literally, you could cover the Super Bowl without ever leaving your hotel room.

But what fun would that be.

We'd usually arrive in town a week before the game. The newspaper you worked for picked up the entire tab. But they made sure you worked. And if the team you covered during the regular season was in the Super Bowl, that was probably the hardest week of the season. The Cowboys went to the Super Bowl one time when I was on the beat, in Jan. 1996, where they beat the Steelers in Tempe, Arizona. So I was up to my eyeballs with stories to write.

Yet I still managed to have fun, staying at the The Buttes, a very swank hotel, having the company rent me my own cell phone (Hey, it was a big deal in the mid 1990s to have one of those), driving around in a convertible Mustang, eating fancy dinners and going to one NFL/celebrity party after another.

In New Orleans for the Packers-Patriots Super Bowl, it was Bourbon Street (pre-Katrina) and one Hurricane drink after another; It was the Gas Light District in San Diego and it was Miami Beach in Miami.

Yeah, Super Bowl week was like a buffet: all the hedonism you could take.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Is it something I said?

I went to Austin last weekend to see Noah.
Nancy had wanted me to come a weekend later, Jan 31 to Feb. 2, to "celebrate" his 18-month birthday, but I went last weekend instead. Didn't wanna wait three weeks to see him and, this weekend is the Super Bowl and I've got a half marathon. (I didn't tell her my Super Bowl/half marathon plans. But hey, we are not seeing each other - I really don't owe her an explanation of why I come when I come, right? I mean, of course I wouldn't miss his real birthday, like his 2-year-old birthday.)
Anyway while I'm there, late Saturday Noah is sleeping and Nancy says something to me about cleaning up the humidifier; boil water, pour in some vinegar. I groused about having to do chores late Saturday, but I cleaned up the humidifier.
Later Saturday, Nancy says it hurt her feelings that I would complain about having to do chores, since she does them all the time when it comes to Noah. I say sorry, and then I say that she still got what she wanted: I cleaned up the humidifier. We didn't argue. We didn't raise our voices. I thought it was over.
Then came Tuesday morning. She calls me when I'm getting ready for work. Here is the conversation:
Nancy: I'm not trying to start a fight, but I'm still ticked that you complained about having to do chores.
Me: Well, I'm not going to re-argue the point. But I just spoke my mind at the time. I was tired, but I did what you asked me to. You got what you wanted.
N: And another thing.
Me: What?
N: What is the real reason you came down last weekend instead of coming down this weekend?
Me: Why does it matter? We already had this discussion.
M: You just wanted to make sure you could be around your friends to watch the Super Bowl, right? That's the real reason you came last weekend instead of this weekend.
Me: Well, even if it was the reason, so what? I make sure I come down there every other weekend and it wasn't like the 31st (of January) was his real birthday.
N: You'd rather spend time with your friends than with Noah.
Me: OK, that's it. I'm not arguing with you. Good-bye.
Dial tone.
Arghhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's one thing to get yelled at for something you didn't do, but its a whole 'nother thing to get yelled at even when you think you are doing the right thing.
Single mothers (and non-single mothers) is it something I said????????????

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I'm liking the longer runs.

I did 6 miles in 44:30 today and while I'm happy with my speed, I find I'm happier when I slow down and go 8, 10, or even 12 miles on run during the middle of the week. I just feel like I'm accomplishing more, doing my body good to prepare for the marathon.
So, yeah, I'm jazzed that I could hold a sub 7:30 pace for six miles while keeping my heart rate below 85 percent maximum for all but three minutes of the run. I'm jazzed about running the last 5k of a 7 mile run on Tuesday in 21:36.
But I felt much more of an accomplishment about Wednesday's 10-mile run. It wasn't fast. Or swift, There was not one mile completed in faster than 8 minutes, but at the end, I felt like I could have run 10 more miles. And isnt that what marathon training is about? Training your body to go 26.2. I'm finding out that I like being out there for an hour or more, and I look forward to my 2- to 3-hour long runs on the weekend. It's like I havent even done anything unless I've run double digits for the day.
I'm up to 31 miles this week. I've got a 20-miler Saturday, which will put me at 51 for the week, my first 50-mile week since training for White Rock. Im going to take it slow and easy not worry so much about speed. I just wanna feel like I could go another 6.2 miles at the end of the 20-miler Saturday. I wanna feel like my blogging buddies Derek and Ryan, who both run 20-milers as easily as most of us run 10-milers. Ryan, for Christ's sakes, just finishing running a 100k race, and Derek has a 50-miler coming up in a few weeks. Another blogging buddy, Lindsay, raced a half marathon in 1:34 and then raced a marathon the very next day in 4:04 at the Goofy Challenge.
So, I may never be crazy enough to do those kinds of things. But, if I can build my endurance, maybe my next marathon won't end in the death march of my previous three.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Uh, Dad...what happened to the cartoons????


WOW!!!!!!!! What a day.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Time to knuckle down

There are a little less than 6 weeks before I run the Cowtown Marathon in Fort Worth. I have slowly, but surely, ramped up my weekly mileage to the low 40s and have had long runs of at least two hours each of the last three Saturdays (14.5 miles on the 3rd; 16 miles on the 10 and 17th).

Now, its time to dig in for the next four weeks before the marathon taper. I was running about 50 miles a week in the weeks before my White Rock Marathon taper, so I know I can safely get to Fiddy miles a week for the each of the next three weeks without getting injured. I'm going to concentrate more on distance instead of speed, making sure that each of my midweek runs last at least an hour. In fact, last week, I went 9 on Tuesday, 7 on Wednesday, and 9 on Thursday before going 16 on Saturday.

I try to keep things nice and easy, but from time to time, my legs want some faster action. And a run that I was going to try to keep at 7:45 m/miles ends up at 7:15, or 7:00. So, I just let my legs do what they want to do and hopefully, they'll treat me nicely during the marathon.

My schedule this week..

Sunday - 8 mile recovery run (9 min/mile pace)
Monday (today) - off
Tuesday - 9 or 10 (depending on how early I can get up. Pace: 7:30 to 7:45)
Wednesday - 6 miles with four at tempo pace (6:30 to 6:45 m/m)
Thursday - 9 or 10
Friday - off
Saturday - 20 (doing the second half of the Cowtown route for the first 13, then adding 7 more)


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Runner's rambling

On December 30, I ordered my marathon pictures from Sportsphoto. The last week, I've been going to the mailbox every day (usually, I only go twice a week because all the mailman seems to wanna give me are bills). I open up the post box. No marathon pictures. Finally, the other day, I call the Sportsphoto people (who are located in Dallas, by the way).
Me: "Maam, I ordered these pics last year and I still havent gotten them.
Sportsphoto lady: "Uh, yeah. See, one of our mail trucks was involved in a wreck and exploded and all the contents in the truck burned. So we'll get your order out ASAP."
True story.
So, I've made up my mind that I will run Cowtown on Feb. 28 in Fort Worth. I did 9 miles really fast on Tuesday. Felt great Tuesday night. Did 7 miles really slow Wednesday (First mile was 10, second mile was 9:30 and the subsequent miles were in the 8:45) Kept my heart rate right around 70 percent the entire time. Wednesday night, my Achilles tendon starts hurting. When I say it hurts to run slow, that's what I mean. This morning (Thursday) I was back to running my regular normally. 9 miles in 1:06.
My job has moved me from the Arlington office of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram to the Northeast Tarrant office. Still about the same distance from my apartment in Fort Worth, but traffic on 183 sucks. I've written two really interesting stories this week.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

9-mile run: Fast and faster

This morning was one of those mornings I wish I could bottle up and sell. My legs were extra fresh since I hadn't run since Saturday's 16-miler. My plan was to do 9 miles: A three mile warm-up, three miles at 10k pace (tempo speed, I guess) and then a cool down.

I'll just let the numbers tell you how I felt.

Mile 1: 8:11 (147 heart rate)
Mile 2: 7:31 (161)
Mile 3: 7:37 (162)
Mile 4: 7:16 (169)
Mile 5: 6:48 (175)
Mile 6: 6:38 (184)
Mile 7: 6:34 (185)
Mile 8: 7;52 (174)
Mile 9: 7:29 (174)

Total time: 1:05:58. Average pace: 7:19 min/mile

My max heart rate is 201, so, during the tempo phase of the run, from Mile 4 to Mile 7, my heart rate percentage ranged from 84 to 92 percent. Amazing what two days rest can do for your legs.


Monday, January 12, 2009

The time I hung out with Tony Dungy

I've written in other posts about my former life as a sports writer and the retirement of Colts coach Tony Dungy made me sad, but brought back a pleasant memory of the time I met him.

In 1997, when I was working in the sports department of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the editors sent me to Tampa Bay to do a feature on the Buccaneers, who were having their best season in quite some time. Dungy was in his second or third year as the Bucs head coach and was the primary reason the Bucs had turned things around.
I fly into town after setting up interviews with coaches and players through the Bucs PR department. I remember interviewing Warren Sapp, Warrick Dunn, Rich McKay who was the Bucs general manager, and some others. Finally, it was time to interview Dungy. Back then, the media worked out of these portables adjacent to the Bucs practice field. The PR person (can't remember his name) said he'd go tell Dungy I was ready to interview him. I remember thinking that I'd probably be summoned to his office. So I got my tape recorder ready and my notebook with the questions I wanted to ask.

The door opens. I hear somebody say, "Is he in here?" It was Dungy's voice. He left his office to sit with me in the dingy, dank, cramped media portable. "What a nice guy," I thought. To be honest, 11 years later, I don't remember a single question I asked him, but I do remember his demeanor. Calm. Cool. Classy. Gracious. He answered every question. And when I was done, I do remember him saying, "You sure you got everything you needed?"

Most guys I've interviewed are in a rush to be finished and give you half answers. That wasn't Dungy's attitude.

He will be missed.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

To run Cowtown, or not run Cowtown

When I tell people I'm training for the Cowtown Marathon on Feb. 28, I get the same response from most: Oh, man, that's hilly. You won't enjoy yourself. Why don't you rest up and train to run Oklahoma City in April.

And sometimes, I think about doing just that. But then I do my weekly long run _ today was 16 miles _ and I think, maybe I can handle the Cowtown hills.

I was supposed to do the last 13 miles of the Cowtown route today with a group at 6 a.m. But I couldn't get out of the bad (or out of the bathroom) in time, so I ran four miles by myself, then did 12 miles with another group that was meeting at 7 a.m. (I like running with others - its the only way I can get in my weekly social hour).

Anyway, it was 35 degrees and wind gusts were over 20 miles an hour (Think my White Rock Lake Marathon - only 35 degrees cooler). And the first few miles I felt real crappy. My legs were just dead. By Mile 10 I was starting to tighten up and thought, 'Yeah, maybe Cowtown isn't such a good idea.'

But the last five miles, I extended my stride and decided to pick things up and felt great. I finished each of the last five miles in under 8 minutes, including three of the five in under 7:40. I guess I can call it a nice little tempo run at the end of my long run. At the end of the run, I was back to thinking, 'Yeah, Cowtown is on!'

I finished the entire run, 16.16 miles in 2:13:45, a pace of 8:16 min/mile. The best thing is I didn't take any GUs or Jells and I only drank gatorade when I was done. I had a little Endurox shake an hour before my run, but that was it. I'm teaching my body to burn more fat when I run so I don't hit the dreaded 20 mile wall. Who knows if its working.

This run put me at 45 miles for the week and I must admit, my legs are dead. I'm going to drive to Austin to spend a few days with my son and will not take my garmin or my running shoes with me. That's two days of forced rest. I need it.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Facebook can be so cruel

A high school classmate of mine, three years my junior, found this collage of pictures taken when I was a senior in high school. She has posted this all over Facebook. So I may as well put it up here. Can you guess which one is me? Try not to laugh too hard at my 1980s hair-do. Picture is circa-1985 or 86. I was 16 or 17.


My next marathon

Plans. Plans. Plans.
So, it looks like I'm only going to Austin sporadically, a week here or a week there to cover the state legislature.
Knowing that lets me plan how I will run this spring.
Here it is: I'm itching to run another marathon and don't wanna wait until the fall, so I may as well run the marathon in the town I live in. The Cowtown Marathon on Feb. 28 looks just as good as any. So depending on how the training goes in the next few weeks, I'll be running the hills of Fort Worth come heat, wind, high water, or freezing temperatures (and believe me, in the last five years, that race has had them all).
I'll do a 17- to 19-miler this weekend. (the rout will be the last half of the Cowtown Marathon, then I'll add three to four more miles. Need to run for 2 1/2 hours.) Then, I'll run the Benbrook Half Marathon on Jan. 24. I'll do a 20-miler on Jan. 31, a 22-miler on Feb. 7 and then taper.
I'm going to get back to doing Wednesday intervals as well. So, beginning next week, my running schedule will look like this:
Sunday: easy day, 4 miles
Monday, off
Tuesday, 10 miles (with six at tempo pace - 6:45 to 7:00 pace)
Wednesday, 1k intervals (3:50 per 1,000 meters) (6 miles total including warm up and cool down)
Thursday, 10 miles hills
Friday, off or 4 easy depends on how i feel
Saturday, long run 15 to 22 miles
I've already run 20 miles this week, but took today off because my legs felt dead. The main goal is to stay healthy. And if all goes well with Cowtown, if I can find a cure for the cramps, then an out of town marathon (Cali, here I come?) is next.

Monday, January 5, 2009

A life ending, beginning

I lost an uncle Monday. My brother called me around 2:30 p.m. and said, "Lee died."
Just like that. A 49-year-old man. Gone. His girlfriend, Karen, later told us that at about 1:30, Lee went outside to smoke a cigarette, came back in, laid on the bed and said, "I feel dizzy, whew." And that was it. He was dead before the paramedics could get him to the hospital.
Lee, who was not overweight, had been having high blood pressure issues, had recently complained of chest pains, and had been downing a lot of Maalox for what he thought was severe heart burn. Early indications are that a heart attack killed him.
And so my mom loses her brother, my grandmother loses her son, and the rest of us lose a crazy, cool uncle.
When I was much younger, Lee told me about girls. Lee let me drive his car when I was a senior in high school and didn't kill me when I wrecked it and the mechanics told him it was totaled because I'd broken the A-frame.
Lee and I grew apart as I got older, but he always called me from time to time to check on how I was doing. The last time I saw him was in August, when our family got together to celebrate the 60th wedding anniversary of my maternal grandparents. The rest of my family last saw Lee on Christmas. (I was in Austin seeing my 17-month-old son, Noah)
"When you gone call your uncle," Lee used to always ask me.
Well, Lord knows I didn't call enough.
Thirty minutes after getting the call from my brother, Nancy calls me. Before I tell her the news about Lee, she tells me what Noah has been doing.
"I just thought you'd wanna know that Noah has been walking around with your picture in his hand saying, 'Daddy, Daddy"
A life ending and a life beginning. Damn, what do you do with that.


Saturday, January 3, 2009

Not crowing about how I ended this 40-plus mile week

Still haven't figured out my race schedule this year (a lot depends on where I'll be living. My job is thinking of sending me to Austin to cover the Legislature this year).

I may not know the major races I'll be running, I do know what I've got to do this year: build my muscular endurance. (I'm fast, I just can't run fast very far - at least not farther than a half marathon). I need more midweek runs of an hour or more (most of my midweek runs last year were 4 to 7 miles, lasting anywhere from 35 to 55 minutes) and I need to do more weekend long runs of at least two hours (I only ran that long during marathon training).

So this week was the first week I let myself run as many miles as I wanted to since marathon training. I went 14.5 miles in 2 hours flat Saturday in unseasonably warm temperatures in Texas. The run capped a 41.62-mile week. And I think if I can keep a base of about 45 miles a week, I'll be that much more advanced when it comes time to training for my next marathon.

This morning's run was supposed to be a 13-miler, with a group of about 10 of us following the route of the Cowtown Marathon. At about 6 a.m., we started in downtown Fort Worth, across the street from the Starbucks on Houston Street and went north, past the old courthouse, across the Main Street Bridge, and into north Fort Worth _ a gritty part of town that has seen more than its share of gang shootings.

Well, me and another guy, Bob, were feeling pretty good (Bob is actually running Cowtown on Feb. 28) so we sped away from the pack. He had the directions, but three miles in and we were already lost. (One of the turns we were supposed to make didn't have a street sign). So Bob (a 6-foot tall, 50-something white guy) and me (a wanna be 6-foot tall,, 40-something black guy) are running around north Fort Worth in the dark and we can hear dogs barking (ohhh, they sounded like pit bulls) and roosters crowing.

I'm cursing because I wish I had run with some other guys on a route I knew, and I'm praying that we don't run into any gang-bangers. (Alas, if there were any in that neighborhood we were running in, they probably wouldn't have been up at 6 in the morning!)

Bob and I finally figured out where we were going and actually caught up to the other runners, only to get lost again (this time in a neighborhood where home values start at 300k). We caught up and passed the other runners again and finally made it back to the finish. We took so many wrong turns that we ended up adding another 1.5 miles to the route.

All in all, a good run (8:20 pace - I didnt take any GUs or jells), but next time, I'm going to know where I'm going before I decide to get adventurous.