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5ksandcabernets: April 2009


Thursday, April 30, 2009

April 2009 running mileage

Stats for the month

Days run: 21
Miles run: 156.98
Total time: 20 hours, 22 minutes, 19 seconds
Pace: 7:47 minutes/mile

Here are my last five Aprils


It's fun to put my miles down for each of the last five Aprils and see my progress. If history means anything, my average April in 2010 will be in the 6s. But, as they say in the stock market, past performance does not guarantee the future.

April 2009 is the second consecutive month where I have averaged a sub 8:00-mile pace for the month, and the fastest month I've ever had. No doubt, running two 5Ks in under 20 minutes and last weekend's sub 1:40 half marathon are big reasons why my average for the month is so fast.

I've got one more planned race for the foreseeable future: A 10K Saturday morning. And then, I'll concentrate on building my base back up, run more miles a little slower than I'm running them now.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Did I choke during the Oklahoma City Memorial

During my normal run this morning with the gang from Luke's Locker, one of my friends, a real real real fast woman, says to me that maybe the pressure of racing got to me during the Oklahoma City Memorial half marathon.

She'd obviously run with me during training runs and saw me put down sub 7s with ease and thought I'd easily break my PR of 1:36 and get awfully close to a 1:30.

I'll admit, I was a bit nervous during the first half of the race. I'll also admit that I thought beating my PR would be easy.

So, after my friend said what she said, I wondered: "Did I choke?"

My goal going into the race was to do the first half in right around 46 minutes. On Saturday, I hit the halfway point (6.55 miles) in 46:26, a pace of 6:58 min/mile. And I did this despite the fact that I had to stop and walk/tie my shoe for about 30 seconds because my left shin muscle cramped up on me.

Now, I did have some "race nerves" during the first half of the race. My heart rate average for the first half (87 percent of max) was about the same as it has been at other half marathons, though I'll admit, this pace didn't 'feel' as easy as it did during my training runs.

I was holding this 7 m/m pace through the first 8.1 miles of the race. At this point, in fact, my time was exactly 58:07, which is exactly a 7:00 mile pace. Up to this point, I'd done everything I set out to do before the race. Stay right around 7, then push it the last 5 miles.

But, as I said in my race report, I couldn't push it. But it had nothing to do with nerves. From Mile 8.1 to mile 10.3, the course was slightly elevated and into a 25-mph wind. The hill/wind combo took everything out of me. I couldn't even run a sub 8-minute mile during this part of the race. I fought and fought and gave it everything I had and my calves finally said "Buh-bye.:

Nerves? I don't think so. Nothing out of the ordinary, anyway. And besides, doesn't everybody get race nerves? Doesn't everybody's heart rate spike at the playing of the National Anthem?

I think it was the heat (70-pus degrees at the start) and high humidity (over 75 percent) that did me in, and the fact that I didn't adjust my pace to the weather conditions. But maybe my friend was right? Maybe I choked.

What do you guys think?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Oklahoma City Half Marathon Race Report

I'll start this Oklahoma City Memorial Half marathon race report with the weather conditions: 74 degrees at the start with humidity over 80 percent and 25 to 35 mph winds.

Sigh. Deep breath. Blink.

What was I thinking? A 1:30 half marathon in those conditions? Halfway through, I was just hoping to better my PR of 1:36 (run in temps 30 degrees cooler), and by Mile 12, even that goal had bit the dust.

So, there were no tornadoes or hail, or even rain. Just maddening heat and air so thick you could chew it. (On a positive note: Oklahoma City has a charming downtown and the Oklahoma City Memorial was just breath-taking. The start of the race was just across the street from the place where the 1995 bombing happened. Before the National Anthem, there were 168 seconds of silence for each of the victims who died. Emotional stuff, people. Just emotional.)

Also, Joan Benoit Samuelson and Bill Rodgers were amongst the celebrated runners on hand. Samuelson won the women's half in 1:21. Rodgers signed autographs at the expo. And earlier in the week, some guy named Brendan Brustad ran 455 hours on a treadmill in a week, breaking a Guiness Book of World Records record. So, there was a lot of good karma for this race.

My stats
Time: 1:38:23
Pace: 7:31
Overall place: 90th out of 5,770
Division place: 14 out of 238
Gender place: 80 out of 2,185

This is my first half marathon where I haven't PR'ed. The time is 2:22 slower than my PR, but still my second fastest half ever.

As you can tell, there were a lot of other people out there hurting. So even though I didn't qualify for New York City or break my PR, I managed to hold on through cramps and the heat and the humidity to finish in the Top 2 percent of all half marathon finishers.

The race was a struggle from the first mile to the last. My left shin cramps up from time to time during the beginning of races for reasons I have yet to figure out and today was one of those times. It's pain I've run with before and usually goes away if I stop for about 10 seconds and re-tie my shoe. This time, the pain didn't go away until Mile 5.

When the pain subsided, I was feeling hopeful because I knew I'd kind of gimped my way through the first 5 miles and my time at this point was 35:12, just over a 7-minute-mile pace.

And one more thing. I only ran this race because a friend told me it was flat. I've run hillier courses (Cowtown Marathon) but I've never run a race with a gradual uphill from mile 9 to 11 against the wind. My first 8 miles were done in just over 56 minutes. (7:04 pace)

Miles 9, 10, and 11 was this gradual uphill climb right into the teeth of the Oklahoma wind (This place is the capital of Tornado Alley you know). Again, I've never run a three-mile hill in a race. I'm not saying it was a major hill. In fact, if it was the only three miles in the race, you would barely notice it. But when it's this late in a half marathon, against the wind, molehills look an awful lot like mountains.

Each of those miles were done slower than an 8-minute-mile. I've never cramped in a race of a half marathon or shorter, but my calves were just melting in this heat. They started spasming by Mile 10 and I had to stop 6 times over the last three miles to stretch. But that wasn't the end of my misery. I was so pooped and cramping so bad that the little hill on Mile 13 just about wiped me out. I had no finishing kick. But I did smile for the cameras and enjoyed a tasty Carl's Jr. Hamburger after the race.

Here are my splits
1 - 7:05
2 - 7:00 - Shin hurting, but I soldier on
3 - 6:56
4 - 6:56
5 - 7:15 - I stop to rub shin. Pain finally goes away.
6 - 7:07
7 - 7:06
8 - 7:06 - The heat and humidity taking its toll. My lungs hate me.
9 - 8:12 - Start of uphill climb against the wind
10 - 8:17 - When will this hill end
11 - 8:26 - My calves hate me
12 - 7:26 - One more shot at glory?
13 - 8:19 - Uh, no.


Kevin A Lyons tracking update from finish

Kevin A Lyons - finish at 1:38:22

Kevin A Lyons tracking update from 10k

Kevin A Lyons - 10k at 44:03; expect finish at 8:03 AM

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Track me in Oklahoma City

If you want to keep up with my splits in Oklahoma City, click here for athlete tracking. Just enter my first and last name: Kevin Lyons

The race is SUNDAY at 6:30 a.m.

I'm running the half marathon.

Weather update: Start in the mid 60s with high winds and scattered thunderstorms, some severe and producing hail.

Yeah, hail.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Anatomy of my half marathon PRs

When I run the Oklahoma City Half Marathon Sunday, I'll be trying to shave six minutes off my PR for a guaranteed entry into the New York City Marathon this fall.

Six minutes seems like a lot, especially since my last half marathon was only three months ago. But I've had a bigger improvement between half marathons before, knocking off nearly 10 minutes from a half marathon I ran in Jan. 2008 to one I ran last November.

Here is a little chart of the half marathons I've run

Date...................Time...............Pace................Time shaved from last Half
Sunday ?????


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

How far can I run in 90 minutes? Hopefully to New York City.

On Tuesday morning, I did my last "hard" run before Sunday's Oklahoma City half marathon.

My goal pace is a 6:50 mile. So I wanted to run 6 miles at or near goal pace to see how things felt, make sure the legs could handle the turnover for that long, make sure there was, you know, enough tread on the tires.

My first mile was a warm-up in 8:20. Here are the splits from the final 6 miles

2 - 7:21 (HR avg - 79% of max)
3 - 6:54 (HR 83%)
4 - 7:16 (HR 80%) I stopped for a quick swig of water and let the time run
5 - 6:38 (HR 84%)
6 - 6:53 (HR 86%)
7 - 6:36 (HR 88%)

Total time for the 6 miles: 41:39. Avg pace: 6:56

I was running with one of the really really really fast guys in my training group (Roberto) and he wanted to stop for water after we completed the third mile.

I was having a hard time trying to run exactly at 6:50. As my breathing caught up to my leg turnover, my body wanted to go faster and faster. So I found myself running and then slowing down so I wouldn't go out too hard. Surge. Slow. Surge. Slow. See, when all the oxygen is coursing through me and the blood is pumping, my legs wanna run 6:30 miles. But I'm smarter than my body. I know I can only keep that up for 8 or 9 miles, not a full 13.1.

I'm sure my Garmin 305 is going to read the half-marathon course a little long, so I'll wanna have an average pace of 6:45 to meet my goal of breaking 1:30 and guaranteeing myself an entry into the New York City Marathon this fall.

So here is how I will pace myself. I'll do the first half in around a pace of about 6:55 to 7:00 pace, not allowing myself to run under 6:50 for any reason. this will take some discipline on my part. Hold back. Hold back. Hold back.

In the second half, I'll treat it like its a 10k, knowing I'll need to average 6:35 or better over the last half to get in under my goal. This is when I'll let myself red-line a little bit. Go as fast as my legs will carry me and tell my lungs to quit their bitching.

I know I'm dreaming big here, but I'm going to go for it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

An early-morning phone call triggers a flood of memories

My phone rang at 4:48 Monday morning.

I listened to the phone as it rang and rang and rang and wondered who the bad news would be about.

I thought about letting voice mail pick up the call, for I just wasn't in the mood to hear any bad news. I mean, who is, right? Sunday had been a good day. A real good day. I was in Austin for the baptism of my 20-month-old son, Noah, who loved the way the water ran down his face. Noah was talking real good and doing a very good job of being the cutest thing I've ever seen.

Yeah, Sunday was about celebrating new life. But here I was, some 15 hours later, lying in an Austin hotel room, listening to the phone ring and ring and ring, wondering about whose life, presumably, had ended.

"Kevin," my brother said to me as I picked up the phone, his voice more grave and groggy-sounding than mine. "We lost Grand Ma Betty.'

"Damn," I said.

Betty Collins - she went by the lovable name of Grand Ma Betty - had broken her hip in a fall at her home just two weeks earlier. (Isn't that the way it always happens - a broken hip signals the beginning of the end.) She had lots of people coming in and out of her hospital room. I last saw her on Good Friday and she was lamenting the pudding the hospital staff was trying to make her eat.

"They are going to kill me with this stuff," she said.

By the morning of the Boston Marathon - I'm a runner and had to throw that note in - Grand Ma Betty was gone. Some kind of liver infection, the doctors said. She was 78.

I'm not using this space to get sad or weepy about losing a loved one. As I told Cedric later Monday, we were lucky. I have friends who've lost both parents and never knew who their grandparents were. Before Monday, both sets of my grandparents were still alive. So for 40 years, I've had both parents, and all four grandparents.

I'm the only one I know who has had it that good.

We are a sturdy stock of people. Grand Ma Betty was my dad's mom. Worked her whole life before retiring in the early 1990s. She and Ernest Collins - her husband of more than 50 years - went to Vegas more times than a lot of people went to church. (When they courted, "Grand-daddy" was a cab driver and some of his patrons were women who danced in Jack Ruby's cabarets).

Grand Ma Betty lived in pretty much the same house my entire life. Hers was the place where my dad's entire family congregated for pretty much every and anything. Fourth of Julys, Thanksgivings and Christmases, Super Bowl watching parties.

There was always plenty of food (and adult beverages). Lots of domino or card-playing and good music. The times at Grand Ma Betty's were often like a scene right out of Ernie Barnes' "Sugar Shack" painting - black folks just having a good old time.

And often, Grand Ma Betty, the matriarch of my dad's family, was right in the middle of everything. She'd Bid Whist you to death. She drank. She cursed. And she loved. Really loved.

And something else. For the longest time, Grand Ma Betty had one of those rooms that she did not allow kids in. Seriously, there was plastic on the couches and the carpet was crystal clean and she didn't want her grandkids tracking dirt in that room.

The funny thing is if you had to go to the bathroom in the worst way, the quickest way was through that room. But damnit, you locked your bowels as tight as you could and took the long way through her kitchen to the bathroom because you'd rather pee on yourself than make her mad at you.

When we lay Grand Ma Betty to rest Friday, those are the kinds of stories that I'll remember.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Races and paces: Run-up to Oklahoma City

In all the fuss about finding a new place to live and a new job, and in between all the races I've done lately, I've almost forgotten about the half marathon I'm running in Oklahoma City April 26.

I feel like I'm under-trained for this one, at least under-trained distance wise. I have not done a run of at least 13 miles since I ran the Cowtown Marathon on Feb. 28 in Fort Worth. I have logged 7 runs of at least 9 miles since then, so maybe that'll help.

I do feel fast, even faster than I was before I ran a 1:36:01 half marathon at Lake Benbrook on Jan. 31. In the last three weekends, I've popped a PR in a 10k and consecutive sub 20-minute 5Ks.

But yes, I know, the half marathon is a different kind of race. Originally, I was going to try to run a 1:30 at Oklahoma City. That's a 6:52-mile. That would qualify me to run the New York City Marathon this fall. All the charts and all the V02Max tables say I have it in me. I'm also back up to 40 miles a week, which is a good maintenance number for me to keep my fitness.

More important, I've hit 6:52 (or better - mostly better) on my tempo-run mile-splits in many training runs. And this morning was no different. After a 1-mile warmup, my mile splits went like this 7:06; 6:39; 7:02; 6:44; and 6:42.

So, yeah, I've got the leg-turnover for a 1:30 half marathon.

I just don't know if I'll have the wind in my lungs and the endurance in my legs.

It's got me wishing I would have turned some of those 9 and 10-mile runs into 12- and 13-mile runs.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy Easter, from Noah

I didn't get to spend Easter with my son, Noah. Instead, I stayed in Fort Worth and went to church with my family. My brother and mother were in an Easter play. Very well done.

Here is what I missed of Noah over the weekend. The first picture is of Noah. His mother, Nancy, made him wear these Easter Rabbit ears. Cute.

The second picture is of Nancy and Noah.

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

5K Race Report: Komen Race for The Cure

Time: 19:40
Age group place: 1st
Overall place: 31st out of nearly 1,191 timed runners (5K results here)

This is was one of those courses that just does not agree with me one bit. The first half would be downhill, which wrecks havoc on my shins. The second half would be mostly uphill, which wrecks havoc on my lungs.

This is third week in a row that I have raced and I'm feeling it. So, no more racing until my half marathon in Oklahoma City on April 26. My goal Saturday was to run a sub 20-minute 5k. And that's really the goal in all my 5Ks now and this is the third consecutive 5K that I been able to run a sub 20-minute 5k.

The weird thing about this race was the hills. I knew I'd have a good first mile time without trying tooo hard because it was downhill, and I knew I'd need to save something for the last two miles, when the hills made you think you were running in San Francisco, not the southwest end of downtown Fort Worth.

As it turns out, I ran a perfect pace for what I had in the tank this morning. EVEN SPLITS.

9:50 for the first half and 9:49 for the second half. (I got to the race on time, unlike last week's Victory over Violence 5K; and my Garmin 301 worked properly, so I got that instant feedback I like to have about how fast I'm running and how far)

So, here are the splits

Mile 1 ----- 5:55
Downhill. Fun to run that fast, but I know what's coming next and try to hold back.
Mile 2 ------6:37
All uphill, baby. I did manage to pass a lot of people on this stretch.
Mile 3 ------6:23
Was just trying to hang on. A few little rollers for hills, but I was too spent from Mile 2
Last .14 ----:45
Please let this be over and done with!!!

*Last week, I also ran a sub 6-minute mile in a 5K, though I swear that mile was short.

*This sub-6 minute Mile on Mile 1 was legitimate, but downhill. As you can see, I alsmot gave all the cushion right back with that Mile 2 time. I was dying going up those hills. Just dying.

*The overall pace was 6:20 minutes/mile and the overall time was 15 seconds slower than my PR, which was done on Thanksgiving Day 2008 on a course that was much flatter.

*At the same time, though, the time is 15 seconds faster than the 5K I ran last week and that course was flatter than the Texas plains.

*My 5K goal this year is a sub 19 and if I can find the right course, and have everything fall just right, I might, just might get there this year.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tempo run heating up

I'm liking the warm weather just as much as anybody else.

The only time it can be a problem is when you wait to run after 10 a.m. (When I had a job, I was out the door by 6 and it was dark and cold.)

By 10 a.m., at least in Texas lately, its over 70 degrees.

Now, I know what you New Yorkers, or Californians say. "70 degrees? It should be easy for you to run in that weather."

And in about two months it will be, once my body is all acclimated. But today, I had 8 miles on the schedule and when I got in my car to drive to the Trinity Trails, the thermometer said 75 degrees. Also, my route was an out and back, so the first four miles would be into the wind and I'd have the wind at my back the last four miles.

My goal was to run the first four miles easy into the wind. Then get close to tempo pace on Miles 5, 6, and 7, then cool down for Mile 8. They (the running experts) say your tempo pace is anywhere from your 10k to your half marathon pace. For me, that's between 6:45 to 7:15 m/m pace)

Even though I was "cruising" the first few miles, my heart rate was over 80 percent of max early into the run and during the tempo part of my run, it got close to 90 percent of max. I attribute that to the heat. After the run, I had that familiar salt all over my face and arms and when I stepped on the scale I was a full five pounds lighter than when I awoke this morning.

Just like that, I was back to my Cowtown Marathon weight. (If only for a few hours until I rehydrated)

Anyway, here are this morning's splits.

1 - 8:39
2 - 7:57
3 - 7:44
4 - 7:32
5 - 6:58 first mile with wind
6 - 7:07 adjusting to heat
7 - 6:55 hustled to be done with tempo run
8 - 7:50

Workout: 8 miles in 1:00:46. Pace: 7:36 m/m

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I finally found a black barber. Can I move him to Austin?

So, I've spent a lot of space on this blog complaining about a lack of black barbers in my neighborhood. And to some, its a pretty important topic. In the last few weeks, people have come upon my blog after they've typed in keywords such as:

black men hairline

black hair cutters west haven

how to cut a black man's hair

how to barber your own hair black people

What I haven't told you is I finally found a guy who could cut my hair. The day before the Feb. 28 Cowtown Marathon, I was walking around downtown Fort Worth and saw this place called Shelton's Barber. I walk in. There was an old black guy and a young black guy manning the chairs. I'm happy because I know these guys will know what to do with this nappy stuff on my head. The young guy's chair is open and in 30 minutes, I've got a fresh haircut.

The thing I noticed is that both of the barbers had white customers as well. And because the shop was downtown, I'm pretty sure most of their customers are white. So the question is, if black barbers had to learn how to cut black and white hair, how come the white establishments don't make their people learn how to cut black hair?


I've been back to this barber three other times. He only charges $13 and I give him a $7 tip. Why so much of a tip? Well, those places like SuperCuts or ProCuts charge about $17 for a cut and I tip them $3 bucks. And they don't even deserve a tip.

So, its nice to have finally found a place to cut my hair. Of course, the bad news is, I'm moving to Austin and will have to find another barber. And the neighborhood I'm moving to, just south and west of downtown Austin and a few miles away from Westlake, doesn't look like it's teeming with black barbers, or barbers who can cut a black man's hair.

Hopefully, it won't take me a long time to find another place like Shelton's.

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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Victory over Violence: 5k race report

I ran Saturday's Victory over Violence 5K just to check and see where my fitness was. I knew I could get under 20 minutes, but I didn't think I could hit my PR of 19:25 I hit last November.

The big reason I thought this was because my PR came right at the end of training for the White Rock Marathon. I was eating good and tapering. Saturday's run would come a five weeks after I ran the Cowtown Marathon and I have not been eating good. In fact, I've put on 8 pounds since Cowtown.

Still, I wanted to run a good race. So Friday night, at my brother's bachelor dinner, I only drank one beer and one Bloody Mary. I was in bed by midnight and woke up two hours before the race started. Still, I fiddled around so much that I had to run to the start line and as I got to the back of the pack, the gun went off for the start. So, I had to spend the first half mile dodging people walking their baby strollers. I thought I was in a Babies R Us convention at one point.

And something else was conspiring against me. Unlike last week's 10k, I remembered to bring my Garmin 301 this time. But because it was late, it never found a sattelite and again, I had to run a race not knowing exactly how fast I was going. Of course, at least during this race I could look at the elapsed time on my Garmin and get decent splits at each mile.

So, after dodging so many baby strollers at the beginning of the race, I was pleased when I hit the Mile 1 split in 6:34. And I was ecstatic when I hit the Mile 2 marker in 5:56. (I've ever run anything in 5 something!!) At this point, I start trying to do some math and figure if average about a 6:20 the rest of the way, I would have a chance at a PR.

It was sooo humid outside, sooo humid and I couldn't breath and it was like a towel was in my throat, but that was ok. I could slow down and get that 6:20. So I slowed down. And at 18:30 I looked for the Mile 3 marker and didn't find it. 18:40? Not there. 19:00? Not there. Uh-oh, I thought. Did I slow down too much? Finally, a few seconds later, I get to Mile 3 and know instantly that a PR isn't happening today. And then I realize I'd better book it if I wanna get in under 20 minutes. So, I turn on the gas and hit the finish in 19:55.

19:55. That's 30 seconds slower than my PR. But I'm definitely happy with the time. And I'm even happier when I find out that I have finished third in my age group. later in the race, some of us are talking about how fast our 2nd mile was. And then we realize it was short and that Mile 3 was long. Oh, well. A sub-20 5K is a sub 20-5k whether its sub by 5 seconds or by 35 seconds.

Friday, April 3, 2009

March mileage and my next races

I didn't have time to blog this when the calendar turned because I was in Austin, but my March running looked like this:

Miles: 141.77
Time: 18 hours, 42 minutes
Pace: 7:55/mile (Note: This is the first month in which my average pace for the month was less than an 8 minute/mile)

Races coming up in April.

Tomorrow (April 4) Victory over Violence 5k

April 11: Fort Worth Komen Race for the Cure 5k

April 26: Oklahoma City Half Marathon

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I've got an Austin address

I've spent the last four days looking for a place to live in Austin. I've driven up and down Mopac and 290 and Congress Avenue and Barton Springs.

Finally, Wednesday, I found a place. I have an official address in Austin. Weird to say. This is a view from the clubhouse, though my apartment faces the other way _ toward the Barton Creek Mall.

Anyway, I'm pooped. I'm tired of giving the same speech about why I moved, about the size apartment I need, and how much I wanna pay a month.

But I do have a story to tell. At one apartment, the lady showing me around shows me a vacant apartment on the first floor. She opens the door and immediately, I see rat poop on the ground. Uh, oh, I think, this place has rats. And just as I say that, a big ass squirrel or rat or something runs across the room. Needless to say, that scared the living S-H-I-T out of me.

Crazy, crazy. But Austin, here I come.