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5ksandcabernets: March 2009


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Joe's Run 10k race report: A PR despite some difficulties

I didn't even think I was going to run this race until 30 minutes before the start. I knew it was going to be cold and windy and so the night before, I went out with friends and had more than my share of margaritas before switching over to wine.

("Why not have fun Friday night - especially if I'm not racing Saturday morning," I thought as I ordered another glass of Cabernet from the waiter at Taverna's wine/pizza bar in downtown Fort Worth)

I woke up this morning and headed immediately to the bathroom, where I spent a good 30 minutes wishing I hadn't drank so much and reading the newspaper. I could hear the wind blowing like crazy outside my window, like it was blowing before the start of the White Rock and Cowtown marathons.

There is no way I'm going to run this race, I thought. Then I figured, since I'd already paid the registration fee and was planning on running anyway, I might as well do it. Why not, right? So literally, at 7:30 for a race that was scheduled to start at 8, I pinned my bib number, went to the bathroom one more time just to be certain, got dressed and drove like a bat out of hell to the start of the race.

And that's when my problems began. As soon as I got out of the car, I realized I'd left my Garmin 305 at home. I had the heart-rate monitor strapped to my chest. But no Garmin. Now, what, I thought? I have NEVER EVER EVER run any race or training run without some kind of time contraption on my arm, whether it be a Garmin, Nike, or Polar.

Well, I guess there's a first time for everything, right. I'd have to run by feel, naked really. No instant feedback about minutes/mile or heart rate. And since I'd never run the course before, I had no idea where the mile markers were or how far we were from being done.

But at least I was warm in the mid 30s temps with wind gusts well over 30 mph. After a few delays, we were off. About 5 minutes into the race, I could feel that Cabernet-Margarita mix bubbling to the surface. Uh, oh, kinda early to be feeling this bad. But the worst to come was right around the corner, literally. We turned on a side street and to avoid stepping into a hole, I over-strided and landed funny on my left foot, causing the muscles around my shin to start cramping really badly.

Man, I thought, this isn't going so well. Now, Ive had this shin-injury dealy happen to me before in races and runs, so I knew if I'd slow down some, the pain would go away. But it was so intense that I stopped to try to massage the cramp out (and buy my lungs some time). After about 30 seconds, I took off again. I still wasn't feeling right, and we were now running into the wind (boy, Ive had experience with this, right?) but I just decided to gut it out.

Without my trusty old Garmin, it felt like I was running slow because my leg still hurt. At one point in the race, we hooked back up with the people who were running the 5k. Good, I thought, we are close to being done. There were a few rolling hills near the end, the kind of hills that I gobbled up during training runs, but now, with this sore shin muscle and shaky stomach, those hills (combined with the 30-plus mph winds) might as well have been mountains.

Finally, I could see the finish line and put in a finishing kick that had me passing quite a few people. My goal had been to run this thing in 42 minutes or better, but I knew with the weather conditions and my bad day that 42 minutes would be impossible. My second goal was to at least break my PR of 44:25, so when I turned the corner and saw the clock at the finish line reading 43 and change, I was decidedly happy.

My official time was 43:49, a pace of 7:04 m/m and a PR by 36 seconds. I finshed 15th overall out of 285 finishers.

There was a little confusion about exactly where in my age group I finished. The results posted on the side of a trailer at the race said I was the second-place male in the 40-44 age group. But then, when I went to get my award, they said I was the first-place male in my age group. Hmm, I figured, that means the fastest guy in my age group won the Masters Category, leaving me with a No. 1 finish, a nice trophy, and a well-deserved nap.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

30 years ago today....

Going a little off topic here...

On March 26, 1979, I was a fifth grader at Daniel Webster elementary school in Dallas, Texas. I was in Mr. Pantello's gym class. He starts class off by asking us, "So, who you guys got? Magic? or Bird?"

Some of the kids said Magic. Others said Bird. And I was like, "Magic? Bird? What are you talking about? What's a Magic? What's a Bird?"

Mr. Pantello was talking about Michigan State's Magic Johnson and Indiana State's Larry Bird. They were playing the NCAA basketball championship that night, and it was a game that would revolutionize the NCAA tournament and kickoff one of the greatest basketball rivalries of all-time. When they turned pro, Magic's Lakers and Bird's Celtics met three times in the NBA Finals, with Johnson coming out on top twice.

But it was their first meeting, in a game staged in front of the most television viewers to ever watch an NCAA college basketball game, that is the most famous. And that day, in Mr. Pantello's class, was the first time I'd ever heard of either.

I remember it like it was yesterday.

Fast, fast, fast

I had a bad running day Wednesday. 10 miles in 8:37 pace with the last two miles averaging more than 9:30 mile. I don't know what the deal was. I've run 10 miles a ton of times, but I was feeling so bad near the end of Wednesday's run that I stopped near the end of Mile 9.

It was one of those runs where you wonder if you'll ever be fast again.

Today (Thursday), I was just going to do a slow 6-miler with the Luke's Locker group that runs hills. I figure that my legs are dead and I've probably plateaued from all that marathon training. But then, a few of the fast guys show up, Roberto, Blair, Dave, and, well, I couldn't help myself. I ran with them.

Here are the splits:

1 - 7:40
2 - 7:17
3 - 6:56
4 - 6:30 (slight downhill)
5 - 6:36
6 - 6:59 ("cool down")

It's amazing what the legs can do. I've got a 10k Saturday and know I will easily break my PR (44:25). I'll do an easy 4-miler Friday and the 10k Saturday to put me at 40 miles for the week.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A New York minute? I need 90.

I found out the other day that if I run a certain half-marathon time, I'd qualify to run the New York City Marathon this fall.

That certain half-marathon time for me would be 1:30, or a pace of about 6:50 a mile.

Breathe deep. Sigh. Blink.

That pace is slower than my 10k pace, but faster than the pace I held for the last half-marathon I ran, a 1;36 on a hilly course at Lake Benbrook in January.

But I think I can hold 6:50 for 13.1 on the right course, and the Oklahoma City Half Marathon at the end of next month just might be the right course.

So there, I've got something to train for, run a 1:30 half marathon.

It's been 24 days since I ran the Cowtown Marathon, so my legs are more than ready to begin a little training cycle. Today, I went out for a 6-mile run. It was really hot and humid for this time of year (68 degrees, 80 percent humidity). I figured I'd make this a tempo run, just sort of test out the wheels and go as fast as my lungs would let me without racing.

Here are the splits.

1 - 7:50 (warm up)
2  - 6:52
3 - 7:03 (against the wind)
4 - 6:48 (oops, didn't mean to go this fast)
5 - 7:20 (a few hills here)
6 - 6:56

Time: 42:50.
Pace: 7:08.

I felt better during the last mile, perhaps because I knew it was about to be over. By then, my legs were all loose and my breathing had steadied and I thought about running another mile but decided against it. No sense in rushing things.

New York, here I come?

Monday, March 23, 2009

5ksandcabernets.. and resumes?

Last week was all about mourning the loss of my job and drinking every day and every night.

This week, beginning when I awoke Monday, is about the business of moving forward and finding a job.

With that, I spent most of the day in the Barnes and Nobles near my apartment working on my resume and signing up to receive my unemployment benefits.

It took me five hours to do my resume. Five hours! The last time I did one of those was in 1996, when I applied to be the Lakers writer for the Orange County Register. (I got the job  by the way, but turned it down when the Star-Telegram offered me more money and responsibilities to stay. Wonder how my life would have turned out had I gone to Los Angeles??)

Anyway, in 1996, you just listed the jobs you held, your education and a few writing samples and that was it.

On Monday, I had to write up exactly what it is that I did the last 14 years in short, succinct sentences. I guess prospective employees don't understand what "Higher education reporter," means. They want to know that you, "cultivated sources and built relationships with chancellors, faculty members, and other higher education officials." It's the kind of syrupy language I'd never use in a newspaper story, but it just might help me get a job outside of the field.

At Barnes and Nobles, I worked on my laptop at one of the desks they have near the magazines. The smell of Starbucks coffee _ and taste, quite frankly _ was energizing.

More importantly, there was an outlet near the desk, so I didnt have to use up my laptop's battery power. Around 1 or so, I got hungry, very hungry. I wondered if I should pack up all my things, go next door for a sandwich and risk losing my spot. Nah. There was a nice lady sitting behind me who said she'd watch my stuff while I got something to eat. I guess, for one day anyway, that lady was my "co-worker."

Obviously, getting a new job has become a top priority, even though I am still running and drinking (plenty) wine.

Maybe I should rename my blog: 5ksandcabernets... and resumes.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Farewell, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

For more than 14 years, more than a third of my life, the daily newspaper on the west side of the metroplex has been my home, its employees my second family.
My tenure at the newspaper officially ends Friday. My career as a full-time newspaper man, a career that began on the second day of the year in 1991, is probably finished as well, though I'll probably try to do some correspondence work in the future.
This week, I've been cleaning my desk and writing a resume for the first time in years. I had my exit interview with one of the big editors Wednesday and tons of people walked up to me afterward to wish me well. It took all I had not to get emotional. (I didn't!)
It felt like I was at my own funeral and so I snuck out the back door to avoid the casket-jumpers.
I'm going to miss the newspaper business. I'll miss the daily deadlines and the scoops. I'll miss the hustle and bustle of the newsroom, especially when we were covering a big event, like the most recent presidential election, 9/11, a tornado, or the space shuttle tragedy.
I'm going to miss having a license to ask questions of some of the world's biggest personalities, from Tiger Woods to Michael Jordan. And I'll also miss conversations with everyday people and politicians whose decisions affected thousands of lives, people like chancellors and city councilmen; mayors and school board presidents; governors and senators.
I'm going to miss the competition with the Dallas Morning News, especially the times when I was the Cowboys beat writer. There were many mornings when I'd be awakened by the sound of their paper hitting my door at 5 a.m. I'd flip through the Sports Day section, wondering if they scooped me, if I scooped them, or if it was a tie.
I'm going to miss being THE person that non-newspaper people wanted to hang around at parties because they thought I had the coolest job around.
I'm also going to miss...
*The sound of the police scanner during my shifts as night city editor.
*Being a cheerleader for the reporters who I used to supervise, in sports and in the metro department.
*The helter-skelter pace of running Friday night football.
*Road trips to San Francisco, New York, San Diego, and Miami.
*Super Bowl week
*Sitting in a room with a bunch of editors and watching an idea go from infancy to a Page 1A spread
*The old Arlington Star-Telegram building on 1111 W. Abram Street
*The hundreds of reporters, editors, photographers, and graphic designers I worked with.
*The media relations people, the good ones, who made my job a lot easier.

If I could write a book on my career at the Star-Telegram, most of the chapters would center around my time as a sports writer. How can you not have good stories to tell when your job takes you to the corner of the Dallas Mavericks practice court, in front of Mark Cuban as he exercises on his stationary bike, sweat flying all over your notepad.
How can there not be good stories to tell when you find yourself in the passenger's seat of Barry Switzer's BMW, headed to his house for an interview because he's got to be there right now to let the painters in.
How can there not be good stories to tell when Emmitt Smith beats you, regularly, in dominoes; when Michael Irvin frequently walks through the locker-room naked, no, make that butt-naked, bellowing from the top of his lungs that he is the best looking person that anybody within eyesight had ever seen; when you share a cocktail with Jerry Jones or Stephen Jones in the hospitality suite of the visiting team's hotel the night before a game.

Here are three quick stories from my time as a sportswriter.

The first time I met Cowboys owner Jerry Jones: There was an NFL owners meeting in Irving. They were voting on whether or not to let the Rams move from Los Angeles to St. Louis. It was my first assignment as the new Cowboys writer and I wanted to introduce myself to the Cowboys owner. Sometime around lunch, Jones walks out of a meeting room and heads to the bathroom. I run after him, follow him to the bathroom, use the stall next to the one he is using and introduce myself. He nods his head, zips up his pants and says, "Nice to have you on board."

The 1990s Cowboys: I started covering the team in 1995, which was the last year they won a Super Bowl. It was like writing about Hollywood, so many stars, so many soap operas. TroyAikman. Michael Irvin. Emmit Smith. And then later in the year, they added Deion Sanders. There was never a dull moment in that locker-room and its no surprise that each one of those guys does some kind of radio or television broadcasting. I've had personal, one-on-one moments with each of them. Here is my one-sentence summary of each of them.
Aikman: Quiet, reserved, but had an underrated sense of humor.
Irvin: If it was a slow news day, go ask Irvin a question and you'd have a story. Very quotable. Very funny.
Smith: Nicest celebrity in that locker-room. Would talk to anybody.
Sanders: Sometimes during training camp, he'd come to the sidelines and joke around with the sports writers covering the team.

Before they were stars: Before I covered the Cowboys, I wrote about high school sports in San Antonio, Texas and in Hartford Connecticut. I wrote about a lot of teenagers who would become millionaire athletes. Some of them included: Anthony "Priest" Holmes (Marshall High School in San Antonio and former NFL running back); MarcusCamby (Hartford Public High School and NBA basketball star); Demetria Sance (Jay High School and Olympic volleyball star); Jerome Young (Prince Tech High School in Connecticut and World track star); Nykesha Sales (Bloomfield High School in Connecticut and WNBA star); Amy Acuff (Corpus Christi Calallen High School and Olympic high jumper);

My next job? My next 14 years? Who knows where the road is going to turn. But I'm looking forward to the future and all it holds.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

If Noah can dribble a soccer ball, I can rework my resume

Every time I see Noah in Austin, I pick up one of his little play basketballs and dribble. For Christmas, we bought him a little mini basketball goal and so when I went down this past weekend, he kept saying, "Hoop. Hoop. Hoop."

On Sunday, we took him to this tots soccer camp. Now, its not really about teaching a kid to play soccer. Its just a cool little deal that helps him with his motor skills, using a soccer ball, hula hoop, balloons, and cones.

When it was time for Noah to kick to the soccer ball, he kept picking it up to bounce it. Guess right now, Noah is more Chris Paul than Pele.


So, I've spent the last two or three days working on my resume. It's proven to be harder than I thought it would. I mean, I've spend the last 5,200 days working at one place, in one field. And so, converting my resume from a journalism seeking job to a media relations/communications type has been challenging. But, I'll make it work.


I have not been running much since the Feb. 28 Cowtown Marathon. I ran 18 miles the first week after the marathon and 28 miles last week.
My body is ready to up the mileage. Its antsy. So today, I went for an 8-mile run. Warmed up for 2 miles, then did four miles at 6:50 pace, then did a 2-mile cool down.
Did the entire 8 miles in 59 minutes flat. The 6:50 pace was not hard to keep up, and in fact, the only reason I slowed was because I had to go to the port-o-potty.
You sit in the can, in the dark, for three minutes and you come out with leg muscles that are not as loose as they once were. So, I just took it easy the last two miles.
My next race is the Oklahoma City Half Marathon. I'm feeling pretty confident that I can run it in 1:32 or better. Its not until late April. Without a job, I've now got plenty of time to train for it.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Texting on the treadmill: My mom and technology

Ok, time for a little break from dreary, sad news about me leaving the paper.

So, the other day, I get a text message from my mom.

The message was cute: "On treadmill. Should i breathe thru mouth or nnse?"

My mom will be 60 in June. She is exercising, and has figured out how to text message - while walking/running on the treadmill.

How can you not just love that?

I text her back and said, "Both." I started to tell her how dangerous it was that she was texting and treadmilling at the same time. But then I decided not to because I text (on an Iphone) and drive at the same time all the time. How can I judge her?



It's officially official

I have been absolutely overwhelmed with the support each of you in the blogosphere have shown as I went through the decision-making process of leaving my job of 14 years to move to Austin to raise Noah. (I know. I know. Too many prepositional phrases in that first sentence.)

I thought about leaving a personal note on each one of your blogs/Facebook pages, but It would take wayyy too long.

So, I'll say it here: Thank you!

Many of you used words like, "courageous" and "brave" in complimenting me on my decision. I'm flattered. But I'll add that it was really the only decision I could make. Noah deserves to have his daddy around. And if I didn't go, words like, "stupid" and "selfish" would be more appropriate.

It became official late Thursday afternoon, with a simple phone call from one of the editors at the Star-Telegram: "Kevin," the caller said, "your buyout application has been accepted. ... "

And just like that, after 14 years, 3 months, and 8 days, my Star-Telegram career entered into its final days, moments, really.

It's odd to think of myself as a soon to be ex-employer of this newspaper. And it is so exhilarating to know I can watch Noah grow up and help him be a good man.

Again, thanks for all of the support, and I'm working on a blog post about my time at the Star-Telegram that should be ready in a few days.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Well, that was a strange reaction

I turned in my paperwork for the voluntary buyout. I'll know if I'm accepted sometime Thursday. Basically, if four people who have more tenure than me want the voluntary buyout, I won't be accepted. But far as I know, of all the people who want to leave voluntarily, I'm the one with the most tenure.

So, it looks like I'm gone. Noah, here I come.

The strange thing has been the reaction from Noah's mother. You'd think she'd be happy to have the father of her son come down to Austin to help her raise him. But that has not been the case. In fact, Nancy has been the ONLY person (in person or the blogosphere) who says I'm making a stupid decision to leave one job without a guarantee of another. She has even called me three or four times to talk me out of leaving the Star-Telegram. Says she's worried about Noah's insurance, and having enough money to take care of him.

But as I told her, nothing is going to keep me from my kid. This decision is about one person and one person only: Noah.

I will make sure that he will be OK.

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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Noah vs. the Star-Telegram

So, what I didn't say the other day, what I didn't detail about the Star-Telegram layoffs was this: Yeah, I survived, but I have the option of taking a voluntary buyout.

And so how that plays out for me is this way: I can stay at the Star-Telegram, where I've been employed since 1994; I can stay in my comfort zone in Fort Worth, where I've made tons of friends on the running trails.
Or I can take the voluntary buyout and go move to Austin to begin raising my son, Noah. If I take the voluntary buyout, I'll get six months pay (which means I'd have six months to find a job) and the company will pay 65 percent of my COBRA insurance for three months (and maybe up to 9 months depending on how President Obama's stimulus plan applies to insurance).

But let me repeat the first part of the Pro of the Pro/Con of taking the buyout: I get to be around my son. Everyday. Not every two weeks. Everyday. Noah is 19 months old. As much as I don't get along with his mother, it is very painful to leave Noah when it's time for me to go back to Fort Worth. I can easily get my own place and then see him as much as I want to see him.

And so yeah, unemployment in this country is at the highest level in years. And yeah, I don't know many people in Austin. But what can be more important than raising your kid? What? Making a few more dollars at the Star-Telegram? I'm not so sure. I could wait until the next round of layoffs at the Star-Telegram, but there is no guarantee that the severance package would be the same. And more importantly, everyday I'm not around my kid, that's a day I'll never get back.
I've got until Thursday at 10 a.m. to make a decision about what I want to do. Do I stay at the Star-Telegram? Or do I leave the only profession I've ever known to be a much bigger factor in the life of my only son in Austin, Texas?
It's Noah vs. the Star-Telegram.

Noah has a two-touchdown lead with 2 minutes to go.

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Star-Telegram layoffs

I survived, but a lot of my colleagues (the final tally will be more than 40) did not.

Sad day, very very sad.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

February Mileage, and thinking about my next trick.

I usually post this on the last day of the month. But on the last day of February, uh, hello, I was running a marathon.
February miles: 172.09
Number of runs: 19
Total time: 23 hours, 25 minutes, 56 seconds
Pace: 8:13 minutes/mile
Total miles for 2009: 366.84
Number of runs: 40
Time: 2 days, 1 hour, 43 minutes, 36 seconds
Pace: 8:07 minutes/mile
This morning I ran for the first time since Cowtown, waddling through a three-mile run in 27:41. The first mile was ugly brutal, a 10-minute-mile, as my legs tried remembering what it is they used to be so good at. By the middle of Mile 3, they had warmed up somewhat and I was able to move along the Trinity Trails at about an 8:30 clip. I was soooo glad to stop.
I think I'm done with marathons until at least the Fall I think. But there are some half marathons I want to get signed up for and I think the first will be the Oklahoma City Half at the end of April. This has a companion Full Marathon (OK, its the Oklahoma City Marathon with a companion Half Marathon) and it is put on in memory of the bombing of the federal building there in 1995.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Cowtown Marathon reflections: Food for thought.

One of my blogging friends, Victoria of FlirtynDirty, left this in my inbox Monday morning:

"I actually don't think you need to slow down. I think it has way more to do with caloric intake (she says, in her totally scientific opinion). ... everyone's an experiment of one, but your times look like a caloric crash-- you're going fine and then you die. That's not needing to go out slower as much as it is needing calories, in my humble opinion.

I agree with what you said in your blog. I think you're totally capable of running a 3:30 marathon."

And in the comments section of my blog came this from Sara from Docstoflopstocrocs: "... maybe you need to tweak your fueling strategy for longer runs. I agree with Victoria that running 26.2 miles with no breakfast is a lot to ask of your body."

Spot a trend?

I need to eat better. No. Make that I need to eat more. The day before the Cowtown Marathon, I had oatmeal and coffee for breakfast; a tuna sandwich and potato salad for lunch; and a sweet potato and chicken noodle soup for dinner. That is less than 1,000 calories. And in the four or five days leading up to the marathon, I don't think I had one day where I had more than 2,500 calories.

No wonder I bonked, or as Victoria called it, I had, "a caloric crash." I was going fine. Averaging an 8-minute mile on little effort through Mile 14. Started feeling bad a little (Body giving me warning signs that the tank was near 'E'). Recovered for one final moment of glory at Mile 17 (8:03 m/m), then the tank was empty.

And I don't mean gradually empty. I mean Empty. Right. Now. Mile 17, up a hill, was completed in 8:03. Mile 18, also uphill somewhat, was completed in 9:18.

Let me say that again. Mile 17: 8:03. ..... Mile 18: 9:18. Of all the miles in the marathon, the the difference of 1 minute, 15 seconds between Mile 17 and 18 was the greatest. And the dropoff in pace would continue. But it started, suddenly, at Mile 18.

I averaged an 8:04 pace the first 17 miles. I averaged 10:13 over the final 9.2 miles.

My race nutrition was a GU and a salt packet every 6 miles. The GU, a Hammer Chocolate, had 90 calories. I took four of them during the race. That's an additional 360 calories. It wasn't nearly enough to keep up my energy. I needed more GUs and I probably needed to take them sooner. And breakfast would have helped. And a sandwich with that chicken noodle soup would have hit the spot. And..

Somewhere around the middle of Mile 25, Nick, one of the Luke's Locker runners, passes me. Now this should come as no surprise because Nick is fast. Problem is, Nick was running an ULTRA. The day after the Cowtown, Nick and I were among a dozen or so at a post-marathon shindig. Nick has run sub 3:10 marathons and I know he has got a sub 3:00 in him. I asked Nick how much he eats. He said he eats about 3,500 calories a day.

"Damn," I said, gulping my beer. "How do you do that?"

"You know, lots of pasta, potatoes, and.." he paused.

"Yeah, and what," I said.

"And I'll eat a whole entire box of cereal if I'm short on calories," he said.

I guess I'll be investing in Raisin Bran stock.
"I'll guess 3:51! Good luck, have fun, and just finish!"
Kevin of JustFinish came within two minutes of predicting my time. Kevin just edged out Myriam of Becauseitis, who guessed 3:50:07.
Lindsay and Ulyana guessed 3:53 on the dot. But they both admitted they "guessed" after reading my race report. Funny ladies.
So Kevin, drop me an email with your mailing address or a P.O. Box, let me know if you like red or white wine, and watch your mailbox.

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Race report: Cowtown Marathon - Another PR

My official time at the Cowtown Marathon was 3:53:28.
I never blogged about how fast I thought I could run this race, but now that its over, I'll admit that I thought I could easily run 3:40 or better, and really thought a 3:30 was in the cards based on my training. (There seems to be a slight controversy about who correctly predicted what I'd run, but that's a subject for another day).
But I won't boo-hoo the effort. Cowtown had howling 25 to 35 mph winds and enough hills to make you think you were running in San Francisco, but my time is a 15-minute PR over my White Rock Marathon from 10 weeks ago.

For those that don't have enough time to read through my (really) long race report, I'll give you some quick stats and a short analysis of my run. I ran the first half in 1:45, started feeling bad around Mile 14, recovered, felt bad again around 17, recovered, then felt bad from 22 until the end. But I took GU and salt every six miles and held on to run the fastest 2nd half of any marathon I've ever run.

And something else: For the first time in any marathon I've run, I had enough in my legs that I could sprint the final two-tenths of a mile, able to raise my hands and jump across the finish line. The feeling was exhilarating. I wish I had video of that.

The hard headed lesson I learned (aside from the fact that I started too fast): The marathon doesn't care about my V02Max. Or my Yasso 800s time. It doesnt care about how fast I can get through 1k meter intervals or what I can do on a tempo run. The marathon is a totally different animal and the sooner I wrap my head around that fact, the better my I'll become at running these things.

The stats: 3:53:28
Overall place 222 out of 921
Gender place: 191 out of 623
Division place: 1 out of 3 (LOL. They listed me as 0 years old. Who knew I'd win my age group!)

The report

Race Day morning: What to wear.
**We had highs in the mid 80s all week long but the Saturday forecast was pretty consistent. Itd be cold and windy. None of us knew it would be THAT cold and THAT windy.
I awoke at 4:30 Saturday morning, hit the weather bug app on my IPhone and it said it was 40 degrees with 20 mph winds. I awoke again at 5:30 and conditions had worsened: 32 degrees and winds gusting at up to 40 mph. I could hear the trees rustling outside my window.
Uh-oh, I thought. It would be 30 degrees cooler than White Rock (and thats good for running long distances) but running when its that cold and windy is not comfortable at all. This would be a day for running tights.

**I packed all my things and made the 10-minute drive downtown to meet Tom, one of my co-workers in his office at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The building is just a few blocks from the start line. It was 6:30, about an hour before the start. We groused about the weather, wondering if we should put on even more clothes. I ended up wearing three technical shirts, two pair of gloves, and a hat. It was nice to spend those last few minutes in a warm office, able to change clothes or use the bathroom without waiting in line.

**At about 7:15, we took a GU and headed to the start line. It was even colder now, it seemed, with the winds whipping around the downtown skyscrapers. (There are a few in Fort Worth). We tucked into the crowd at the start line, settling just behind the 3:30 pace group. The marathoners, half marathoners, and ultra-marathoners all started from the same spot and even though 4,000 of us where huddled tightly on Fourth and Houston streets, the windchill still found its way to the bare or barely covered parts of my body.

**My nerves were going crazy at this point, but seeing so many familiar faces calmed me down just a bit and I decided to just make this like a training run. By the time the starting horn went off, I felt at ease.
But those feelings wouldn't last long.

Miles 1-6: Can't get my heart rate to slow down
**In my head I was saying, "Hold back, hold back, hold back." But the first mile was all downhill. So how do you stop a freight train of nerves and emotion on a full tank of gas? You don't. So I just let my legs do what they wanted to do and worry about the right pace at Mile 2. Running north from downtown on Main Street, we ran right into the teeth of the wind, but I was no longer cold, and me and my co-worker, Tom, looked at each other and wondered if we were wearing too many clothes. At points in the race when we were running with the wind, I took off my hat when I started to get warm. At one point later in the race, I saw a lady wiggle out of one of her under shirts while still keeping her top t-shirt on. What a feat that was!

**Tom, who has now run 11 marathons and qualified for Boston, had hurt his calf and couldnt run White Rock in December with me and was just hoping to take it easy today. But he had "muscle memory" and was way too fast for me, so at the middle of Mile 2, I let him take off. Gotta run my own race. (Tom wound up running 3:35. I had NO business lining up with him at the start).

**In training, I could run 8 minute miles without my heart rate getting over 80 percent of maximum. But I couldnt get my heart rate to slow down Saturday. Nerves. Adrenaline. All of it was out of whack, and worrying about it made it worse. It spiked to 82 percent at Mile 3, and 84 percent by Mile 6. I had a choice to make at this point: slow down and get my heart rate back under 80 percent or speedup so my effort matches my heart rate.
Despite all the preaching to myself about starting slow and controlled, what did I do? You guessed it. I sped up.
It was the biggest mistake I made during the race.
But it would take me a while to realize it.

Mile 1: 8:01
Mile 2: 8:30
Mile 3: 8:03
Mile 4: 7:48
Mile 5: 8:00
Mile 6: 7:48

Miles 7-13: This feels good.
My plan was to take a Hammer Chocolate GU and a packet of table salt every six miles. And it had the desired affect during the first half of the marathon.
I ran the Cowtown route in training and everytime I got to the hills around River Crest Country Club, my pace would slow and I'd feel sluggish. Not Saturday. I floated through those little rollers. At about Mile 8, the GU/salt started kicking in and I ripped off four straight sub 8-minute miles. Man, I was feeling soooo good. I clapped when I ran by the kids volunteering at the aid station in front of South Hi Mount Elementary. I eagerly thanked the police men and women for doing patrol.
This is sooo easy, I thought. My heart rate was still a little high (had soared to 85 percent max), but my legs were warm and I felt just like I did in training. I wasnt breathing hard. Everything was clicking.
And when I hit the half way point, I thought to myself: There is no way that I won't run a sub 3:40. No. Friggin. Way."
My legs had other ideas.

Mile 7: 8:04
Mile 8: 8:38
Mile 9: 7:47
Mile 10: 7:34
Mile 11: 7:44
Mile 12: 7:50
Mile 13: 8:03
Official half marathon time: 1:45

Miles 14-20: Uh-oh!
In the space of a few minutes, I went from feeling super to sluggish; from thinking I could run a sub 3:40-marathon to wondering If I'd even get in under 4 hours. I didn't think I'd hit the wall until somewhere in the 20s, but in the mid to late teens, here that wall was, closing in, invading my space. My fuel tank (low to start the race because I don't eat breakfast before I run) was emptying.

**And the troubling thing was, I was not on schedule to have another GU until Mile 18. As we ran through the Tanglewood neighborhood, my min/mile pace slowed from 8 to 8:30. This had never happened in training. (I'd also never run this fast in training) and I was starting to get worried.

**From Mile 16 to 17 is a big hill that lasts one mile and I thought about walking some of it, but just as I started to ascend the hill, I started feeling better. I don't know where. I don't know how. But i got a little bit of energy and I bounded up that hill, passing at least a dozen people. I thought I had gotten over the wall. I thought I was ready to start hitting more sub-8s. And then, right as we are about to turn into Foster Park, my left calf starts cramping.
Shit. A cramp. At Mile 17. The Wall is back, with a vengeance.
I stopped. Stretched out the cramp and continued through the park, which contained another hill. I did not bound up that hill.

*At this point in the race, I paid a little more attention to those running around me, trying to draw some kind of energy from somebody feeling as bad as I was. As I ran through Foster Park, I ran into Brad, a black guy from Arlington who had started cramping at Mile 12 and was run-walking. We bemoaned the hills and the wind. For a few miles, we took turns "taking the lead." He'd feel good and I'd try to keep up and then sometimes I'd feel good and he'd try to keep up. Somewhere around 19, he felt good and passed me and he was out of sight.
Also around the 19.5 mile mark, the 3:40 pace group passes me as we are running by Texas Christian University.
I stop on University Street, hop up on a curve and stretch. I look back, wondering, who/what else is gonna pass me.

Mile 14: 8:33
Mile 15: 8:10
Mile 16: 8:25
Mile 17: 8:03
Mile 18: 9:19
Mile 19: 10:07
Mile 20: 9:57

Miles 21-26.2: So this is how it feels.
*Six of the last 8 miles were into the wind, the 25 mph wind, and the last two miles were mostly uphill. I knew this going into the race. So my strategy here was just to hang on. Take my GU and salt when I'm supposed to. Walk if I need to. Stretch often. I had long ago given up on my "A" goal of finishing around 3:35 and my "B" goal of around 3:45. But my "C"
goal _ of finishing under 4 hours and running across the finish line _ was still in sight.

*At this point in my previous three marathons, I was like Dead Man Walking. In the last 10k of my 2008 White Rock Marathon, four of the miles took me longer than 11 minutes to complete. I averaged a 14-minute mile during the last 10k of my 2007 marathon and a 13-minute mile over the last 10k of my 2005 marathon. On Saturday, I finished 20 miles in about 2:46. Doing some quick math, I figured I'd get under 4 hours if I could do better than an 11:30 pace over the last 10k.
So that became my goal. "Don't run slower than 11 minute mile. " And I got a big cushion because Mile 21 was mostly downhill. I popped a sub 9-minute-mile on that one, my first sub-9 in four miles.

**But things were still hurting. I took my last GU and salt around Mile 22 and gave up trying to run the whole way. Instead, I resorted to run-walking. I'd run a few minutes, walk a minute and stretch if I needed. This seemed to help. I had a little more bounce in my legs during the run-part of run/walking. Still, though I was cutting it awfully close on my goal of not running slower than an 11-minute-mile over the last 10k. And again, it didnt help that I was running into the wind.

*Miles 14 and 21 go down the same street, with Mile 14 going North and Mile 21 going south. When I got to Mile 21, I saw a ton of runners going the other way. "Man," I thought, "These are the people with guts, to be out here so long in these conditions."

*Near the end of Mile 24, a friend of mine _ Blair _ who was pacing the 3:50 marathoners, passes me. "Kevin," he yelled out. "You better get your ass in gear." I turned around and replied, "Fuggg you, man." We both laughed. He asked if I wanted to tag along with his group. I said I was fighting off cramps and couldn't go any faster. Blair, who has run sub 3:15 marathons, gave me his last two electrolyte stamina pills and took off. I put them in my mouth just as I hit the Mile 24 water stop and mentally prepared myself for the last two miles, which included THE steepest hill of the race.

*Somewhere between Mile 24 and 25, I ran into Brad again. His cramps were really bad. I passed him for good when he ducked into a porta-potty on Henderson Street. (Brad still wound up with a faster chip time than me because he started several minutes behind me). I also ran into this old black man who was running with the National Black Marathoners Association. Now this guy had on a half-marathon bib, which meant my pace was twice as fast as his. When I saw him, he was stretching out his legs, trying to regroup for the last bit of the run. At Mile 25, as we go up the Lancaster Street hill, this man passes me with this power-walk/run trot thing going on. I was no match. He kept getting further and further away from me. I gave up trying to catch him.

*Even though there were mad hills at the end, my mood had brightened by this point. I said hello to all of the police officers doing patrol, telling them, "I didn't know what I was thinking when I signed up for this." I knew I was going to break the 4 hour barrier. And now, it was all about having enough energy in my legs to be able to sprint the last two-tenths of a mile, which is about the length of three football fields. (I had to walk across the finish line at the White Rock Marathon and it was all caught on video.)

So, before the last turn on Main Street, I hop on one of the curves and stretch as good as I can stretch. Calves. Groin. Quads. Hamstrings. It looked like I was stretching to run another 5k, but I just wanted to muster all the strength I could to run hard through the final part. I make the final turn at Mile 26 and I can see the finish line and all the people on both sides of the street and I start jogging. And I realize my legs are still holding up. With a 1/10 of a mile to go, I decide to sprint. It feels good. I pass a few runners. People cheer. "I'm going to make it," I think. I raise my hands in the air and see the photographers with their cameras, their aim on me. I smile. I leap across the finish line. I'm looking for somebody to share my elation. There's Blair. We chest bump.
I was ecstatic.
And most importantly, I was done.

Mile 21: 8:55
Mile 22: 10:06
Mile 23: 10:47
Mile 24: 10:42
Mile 25: 11:04
Mile 26: 10:58
26.44: 4:35

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