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5ksandcabernets: June 2009


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

June 2009 running totals: Two bills and then some.

I ended this month with a swift 10-miler this morning, averaging just under 7:30 min/mile for the distance, including 7:05 min/mile for the last six miles.

The mileage total brought me to 241.66 for the month. Its the most miles I've ever done in any month, eclipsing the 194-mile January. This month I had 12 runs of at least 10 miles and have 34 such runs halfway through 2009.

I had 28 double-digit runs in all of 2008.

Now I don't have the speed of Kamran or Jess, and I am not running as many weekly miles as Sadie or Heather, but 200-plus is something to be proud of.

And I think I ran smart during the month, taking my "easy days" as often as I could. My average pace for the month ties February for my slowest month of the year and is my slowest month since September. I think the easier running has helped me overcome some nagging leg pain I had at the beginning of the month. My left knee, which has been wonky since November, seems to be totally over whatever it is that was giving it problems.

June 2009 Stats
Runs: 25
Miles: 241.66
Time: 1 day, 9 hours, 6 minutes, 57 seconds
Pace: 8:13 min/mile

FY 2009
Runs: 128
Miles: 1.087.95
Time: 6 days, 1 hour, 53 minutes, 4 seconds
Pace: 8:02 min/mile

Historical look at past Junes
2008: I ran 121 miles in a pace of 8:26
2007: 91 miles in a pace of 9:30
2006: 78 miles in a pace of 8:52
2005: 88 miles in 9:30

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Monday, June 29, 2009

There is a cow in my car

I bought the Britax toddler car seat for Noah a few weeks ago. Babies R Us only had this weird cow pattern. From everything I read (and from what Noah's mother told me), this car seat was supposed to be one of the safest around.

So, I put down the cash and put the seat in my car. Every time I get in my car, it just looks like there is cow in the back seat. But Noah seems to like it.

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

A running partner to keep me honest

Long runs are easier when you find someone to run with who runs at about the same pace as you do.

When I was running my long runs too fast, I was sort of a tweener. I was behind the really fast guys, but ahead of the rest of the pack, and so I spent three-fourths of my runs kinda by myself.

Since I'm now running "smarter" I've paired up with this cool guy, Jonathan. He has helped me keep my pace steady. For instance, during Saturday's 14-miler, every mile between 2 and 9 was between 8:27 and 8:35 min/mile. Now that's what I call consistency. (I picked up the pace the last five miles, going from mid 8s to mid 7s for the last five miles)

You'd be surprised (if you didnt already know) how "easy" running is when you run with someone else. Last Thursday, I was just going to do 10 miles. Jonathan was going to do 14. We got started, nice and easy pace, and I felt so good I decided to go four more miles.

Jonathan is on vacation with his wife and kids next week, so I'll have to be disciplined and keep a safe pace on my own.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Prince vs. Michael Jackson: It doesnt matter anymore.

When we were teenagers, my brother and I used to have these arguments all the time about who was better: Prince or Michael Jackson.

I always went with Prince.(Purple Rain, International Lover, When Doves Cry ... Come on, whats not to like.)

Cedric went with Michael.

From all the adoration that MJ is getting after his death Thursday, Cedric may have been right.

And even sadder is that the argument doesnt matter any more.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Separated at birth: Me and David Alan Grier?

I missed my run Wednesday morning because I was drinking too much at WineStyles the night before. But one of the bar patrons kept saying I look like the comedian, David Alan Grier. If only I had his money and influence... (Hey, maybe he'll read this post and help me with a job. I was a Thespian in high school, you know.)

What do you think?


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Daily run: The one day a week I get to go fast

I've decided that Tuesdays will be my "fast day." This the day when the run is "only" 10 miles, and I've had 72 hours of recovery from the Saturday long run.

And what I've always meant by fast is, just let my legs do what they wanna do as long as they share the oxygen with my lungs, i.e., NO RACING.

And so here are what my legs did today:

1 - 9:34 (warm up. It takes me a longggg time to warm up)
2 - 7:56
3 - 7:50
4 - 7:26
5 - 7:37 (Kind of a slight uphill most of the way and I am still terrible on hills)
6 - 7:23 (course flattening out and I'm feeling good again)
7 - 7:20
8 - 7:11
9 - 6:58
10 - 6:50

I got a little carried away the last mile, but every once in a while I think its a good thing for me to dip down into the 6s just to remind myself that I can go that fast. For the rest of the week, I'll be back to taking it easy during runs. This is a stepback week, and I am definitely taking the breaks I'm supposed to be taking.

I've got a 7 to 8-mile run Wednesday, another 10-miler on Thursday, and a 14-miler on Saturday. That will give me 48 miles for this "step-back" week.

*************** update: Absolute, biggest waste of time and money. I've had offers for dates, but just can't bring myself to actually go out on one. And some of the profiles seem fake, or are written by people who can't spell. (Come on, ladies, how hard is it to spell "definitely" - I didn't know an 'a' was in that word.). So, I think I am going to let the membership go when it runs out in mid July. I think I just want to meet someone the old fashion way: See them in person, drool, compose myself, and then ask them out.

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Fathers Day from Noah and me

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Daily run: 18 miles

Had a nice, "easy" 18-miler today up and down Shoal Creek Blvd. My plan was to run the course in thirds. Get faster every six miles.

I averaged 8:33 for the first six miles; 8:23 for the second six miles; and 8:05 for the final six miles. I finished the entire run in 2:30, for an average pace of 8:20.

I'm also experimenting with making myself eat something before runs of this distance, so about 30 minutes before the run, I three bites of a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter. During the run, I had one GU, four thermolytes and tons of water. My energy felt strong the whole way, and more importantly, I didn't cramp.

This run ends a week in which I hit 63.85 miles. Next week's schedule calls for a cutback week. "Only" 40 to 45 miles.

I'll gladly take it.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Thanks, but no thanks....

I got a job offer Thursday morning.

Well, it wasn't an offer as much as it was a, "You are probably way over qualified for this job and we don't think you'd want to work for this money, but if you did, we'd love to talk to you."

They were right. I can't work for less than half of what I was making at my old job in Fort Worth.

Still, it was nice to hear someone on the other end of the phone saying they like me. My ego needed that. And maybe its a sign of things to come. The job offers are about to start rolling in?


My job as father to Noah has been fun and today I am taking him to get a hair cut. His mug is getting a little wild, but it remains cuter than hell.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My run turned into a tour of South Austin.

In all my newfound enthusiasm for running slow(er) and taking it easy on long runs, I forgot (or no one told me) about the biggest rule:

If you don't know the route, don't run so slow where you lose sight of your running group altogether _ you might get lost.

That happened to me this morning. We had a 14-miler on the schedule (I know, 14 miles on a weekday. I told you, Team Roguers are fanatical about running). I set a pace alarm on my Garmin 305 that would beep at me if my instant pace dipped below 8:15 m/mile. (This pace, according to Jack Daniels Running Formula and many others, is the fastest "slow-pace" I should hold for long and medium-long runs.)

I saw two of the people I usually run with, Lex (A 3:14 marathoner) and Cat (A 3:22 marathoner) and told them I'd be running behind them. "Yeah," Cat said, "That's what you always say."

But this time I meant it. When everybody took off, I just walked behind them and gradually got into a jog. I did this because I knew if I took off with them, we'd been in the low 8s right out of the box.

So, I was basically the last runner to make it out of the Barton Springs swimming pool parking lot. About half a mile in, I caught up with Sadie and Renee and basically stayed with them for the next half mile or so before passing them.

At this point, the group ahead of me is getting further and further ahead of me, but I can make out two guys in the back (Jon, Keith) and I say to myself just keep them in your sights because I couldn't read the trip ticket because it was still dark outside.

My problem, however, is that I tend to zone out when I'm running. At one point, I could see Jon and Keith. Then, my Garmin started beeping at me, so I slowed down, then I looked up and Jon and Keith were gone. The whole group was gone.


By now, it's light outside, so I get the map out and start the turn-by-turn directions. I'm doing ok, following the map step for step. Only problem is, the MAP WAS WRONG. Several times, I zigged when I should have zagged. I'd realize "this can't be the way," then I'd double back or cut down another street to get where I thought I should have been. From Mile 3.5 to 8, I basically ran through the streets of South Austin by myself.

Finally, I ran into some runners who were running the other way. I knew this was an out and back course, so I figured I was headed in the right direction. Then I ran into Julia and Ann Marie. Surely, they knew where to go. I followed them. But they wound up taking me down a street I'd already knew was wrong.

Ack. By now, its been nearly an hour since I've had water. I'm feeling a little desperate, but at least I'm not alone. Turns out, there were a lot of people who followed the map and wound up taking wrong turns. Finally we get to a neighborhood where Julia's daughter works and we are on our way.

At one point, I stopped my Garmin while I waited for a green light while crossing 290 and forgot to turn it back on for a little more than a mile, so I wound up doing a little more than 14 miles in a little more than 2 hours. During the last two miles, I was feeling pretty good and decided to go ahead and run it in. I turned off the pace alarm on my Garmin because I was sick of it beeping at me because I was going to fast and did the last mile in under 8 minutes.

When I got back to Barton Springs, I got teased a little by some of the guys, like Chuck and the coach, Steve. OK, they teased me a lot. But you just have to laugh at yourself in that situation.

I've got a 16-miler Saturday and will continue to take it easy, but this time, I won't run so slow that I get lost.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Weird anniversary

Was watching ESPN and they referred to today (Wednesday, June 17) being the 15-year anniversary of the OJ Simpson in the back of the white Bronco chase.

It reminded me of where I was that day. I was a 25-year-old reporter at the Washington Times. I was covering the NFL and the Baltimore Orioles. When news came that OJ was missing, my editor called and asked me to call as many NFL people as I could to get reaction to OJ.

I called Buffalo Bills beat writer Vic Carucci to help me because I knew he'd have the phone numbers of a lot of people who knew OJ. Before we get off the phone, Vic says to me, "Oh, yeah, call Al Cowlings. He and OJ are pretty good friends. He may talk to you."

Of course, this is just hours before the whole nation would learn how close O.J. and Al Cowlings really were.Vic nor I knew that they were about to load into that white Bronco for the most famous police chase of the decade. So, I called Al. Got his voice mail and left a message.

Wonder if he ever listened to it.

Another thing about that day. The Orioles had a game in Baltimore that night and so I had to work. It was also Game 5 of the NBA finals between the Knicks and Rockets. I can remember sitting in the Camden Yards press box, watching the Orioles on the field and the Knicks-Rockets on the press box televisions. All of a sudden, they show the O.J. chase in the lower right hand corner of the Knicks-Rockets game.

Nobody in the press box could watch the game the field. We were all mesmerized by the TV. I know I missed several plays on the field and to this day, can't remember who the Orioles were playing or whether they won or lost the game.

Crazy day. Just crazy.

Easily running up a 60-mile week

So, yesterday I promised myself (after a tongue lashing from my coach) that I would run my easy and long runs easy.

This morning, I met with two other runners (Blair from Fort Worth and Muna) at Town Lake for an "easy" 7-miler. I was actually looking forward to the easy part because my legs were kind of beat up from Tuesday's 10-mile, 7:40 pace run. And because I normally take Wednesday's off, I knew there was no way I was going to want to pick up the pace. So a day like today would be, for me, the best day to start practicing the correct paces to run on my easy days.

After a 10-minute-mile for Mile 1 .... Let me repeat that: Mile 1 took 10 minutes to complete. ... We wound up doing the entire 7 miles in 1:05:20, a pace of about 9:19. Not one mile was under 9.

Not only could I pass the talk test, I could have said supercalifragilisticexpialidocious backwards and not been out of breath.

Blair, who knows my running history pretty well, said, "Kevin, I bet you haven't run this slow in a while." Blair is a 3:15 marathoner. Muna, whom I just met this morning, is a former president of the Austin Runners club and has run 9 marathons and qualified for Boston several times. Both are "smart runners" and know when to take it easy, and they haven't lost their speed at all.

Still, even though it was an "easy run" it felt hard. I could never get my stride right. It also didn't help that I drank three glasses of wine Tuesday night. (Like I said, I usually take Wednesdays off but Blair emailed me late and asked if I wanted to run with him after I was already planning to drink the wine. Hey, you can't just change your wine-drinking plans midday.)

Because I ran on my usual day off, my mileage over the last 7 days is 64.

I have never ever ever ever never run 60-plus miles in any 7 day period. But I guess, I'm slowly learning, that when you take it easy, you can run as many miles as you want without injuring yourself.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The problem is in my head

I awoke at 4:30 this morning and really thought about not running. My confidence was sinking a little in the face of all this mileage and my left ankle was bothering me a little (though not from running - I stepped on one of Noah's toys Monday evening).

But I got up anyway. And felt OK. And I used the bathroom. And felt better. And after having a little Endurox shake and lacing up my shoes, I felt like I'd get through the scheduled 10-miler in reasonable shape.

Here's how the run went: First half in 8:00 m/m pace, and second half in ...7:15 pace. With the last two miles in 6:55 and 6:37.

Confidence back.

But I'm going to be smart FROM NOW ON. After the run, our coach, Steve Sisson told me my long-run problems were, "between the ears."

"Kevin," Steve said, "You are fast. You can really run fast. But you are running your easy runs way too fast. Now, it's ok to run one of your shorter 10 to 12-mile runs a little quicker. But on your medium long runs and your long runs, you need to be running a little slower."

Isn't that the story of my running life?

So, he assigned me to run with a group that runs its long runs about 30 seconds to a minute per-mile slower than I normally run them. I've got a 14-miler scheduled Thursday and an 18-miler Saturday. And instead of trying to hold a 7:45 to 8:00 pace, I'll try the 8:15 to 8:45 pace, maybe even slower - at least for the first 3/4ths of the run.

I can't promise myself I'll do this for every run for Lord knows I've broken this promise to myself on many occasions. Sometimes, you just start feeling good and your legs get happy and its like, "Runnn, Forrest, runnnn!"

But I know my problems occur after I've been running for more than two hours and the best way to get over that hump is to better train myself to burn fat for fuel and running slow(er) than I usually run is a good strategy.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Slowing my beep beep beep down.

Was going to take a "step-back" week this week and dial my mileage down to 40. But the step back is scheduled for next week. So, I'm starting one more week (and my fourth consecutive) with 50 plus miles.

I ran 5 easy Sunday and 9.4 easy today (Monday). It was supposed to be an 8-miler, but you know me and maps. I got lost. Again. I wound up doing an extra mile and a half. With no water. Uggggg. Afterwards, I had a big Belgian waffle, orange juice and a coffee at the little cafe next to Team Rogue headquarters.

I can feel the miles piling up on me. I'm not injured. It's just that my legs don't feel as springy. I've got the whole brain drain thing going on during runs. And after runs, sugar tastes better than it ever has. But there is some good coming out of all of this: All these miles are forcing me to slowwwwwwwwww down, forcing my body to burn a different type of fuel.

Slow my mutha-friggin-azzz down.

That's going to be my mantra this summer, at least until my body adjust to all these miles and all these hills and all this dang heat.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Hitting the wall: I need ideas to help me reach my daily carb goal

I knew it was finally going to catch up to me one day. Running 50-plus miles a week. On courses with more hills than I'd ever run on before. In 75-plus degree temps and humidity over 90 percent.

A bad running day was bound to happen. And I finally "caught" one Saturday.

Let me start with the excuses first: It was an 18-mile run. It was 75 degrees with 90 percent humidity. It was, as you can see in the elevation picture, mostly uphill the first half of the run. Plus, my legs were pretty much dead before the run. I was on my third consecutive week of running at least 50 miles - a personal record for me. Saturday's 18-miler would put me at 56.74 miles for the week - another personal record.

(I think it's time for me to take a step-back week. Let my legs rest up and heal. They hate me right about now)

Back to the run....

They say your body has this Central Governor, where it knows how your run is going to be within the first few miles. And before we hit the first water stop, before we even hit the first hill, I was already feeling it. Face flushed. Sweat just everywhere. Hot. Hot. Hot.

I slowed down to like an 8:10 pace and still felt like crap. Two hills on Mile 7 just about wiped me out and after taking 9 minutes to finish that mile, I thought about turning around and just doing 14. But no, I figured, I needed this kind of run, where you try to get through it when everything isn't going right.

I trudged on. They called this route the Mt. Bonnell run because, well, Mt. kinda means mountain. And by Mile 8, I could see what they were talking about. Look at the elevation. Straight uphill. About 230 feet in about 1.5 miles.

You don't really run, you just lift your feet up so they don't get run over by the ants.

I was pretty much a goner by this point, but my legs still had some juice in them for the second half of the run, which was mostly downhill. For the next six miles, I averaged about an 8:05 pace. We had a water stop at Mile 14 and I thought I had this run whipped.

I was wrong, so wrong. Right at about the 2 hour mark of the run (14.5 miles in), my gas tank was empty. I hit the wall. No carbs left. Running slow didn't help me feel better at all. It felt like the last few miles of all the marathons I've done. My pace went from 8:30 at Mile 15 to 9:30 at Mile 16 and 17 to...... 12:00 at Mile 18.

That's right. A 12-minute mile. I did the walk-run thing to make it in. I'd run to a light pole, then walk, then run, then walk. I wound up completing the 18-mile run in 2:35, an 8:37 pace - or about a minute slower than last weekend's 16-miler.

I know that nutrition has been my biggest problem for long runs, and it appears the nutrition bug bit me again Satuday. But folks, I really am trying to eat as much as I can. Somedays I get all the carbs I need *450 to 500 a day) and other days I struggle to get 200. I know. I know. Terrible for a runner.

But hey, my marathon isnt for a couple of months and so I've got time to figure this out. If any of you runners have secrets about how you get in the carbs, please let me know. I know pastas and potatoes and breads. But what else do you guys/gals do?

What's a fast, quick, and cheap way to get the carbs you need without getting so full you don't want to eat your next scheduled meal?

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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Back-to-back 50-mile weeks

I had an 8-mile recovery run today. I usually run Town Lake for recovery runs because the surface is flat and soft.

But instead I met with some other Team Rogue members on the East Side of Austin and we ran 8 miles through the Capitol area and the University of Texas campus. Very hard surface. Hills everywhere.

My legs, which have given me back to back 50-mile weeks for the first time in my short running career, finally cried "Uncle."

Don't be alarmed. I didn't get injured today and I didn't cramp up. I just didn't feel like running. My legs were absolutely dead. On top of that, I had a crazy stomach (too much wine the night before) and felt like my bowels were going to explode any minute. Even though the run was twice as short as Satuday's 16-miler, it felt twice as hard.

I've got a four-mile run scheduled for Monday. I plan to run slow and on the soft surfaces at Town Lake. Hopefully that will put my legs in a better mood.


After Saturday's 16-mile run, our coach, Steve Sisson, talked to us about the importance of building a big base of mileage before getting into the nitty gritty of speedwork in a marathon program.

His point, and I agree, is that most people in our group could run a sub 6-minute-mile if it was the only mile they had to run. The problem, he said, is stringing together 26 consecutive 6-minute-miles.

"See, its not that you guys are not fast enough to run a 6-minute-mile," he said. "It's that you are not strong enough."

And so to get strong, we've got to pile on the miles. Build a big base, as they say. And that's what I'm trying to do. I've run 51 and 55 miles the last two weeks, which is the first time I've ever ever ever put together back-to-back 50-mile weeks.

I'm scheduled for another 50-mile week this week and then there is a step back week, where I "only" run 40 miles.

Then I will continue ramping up the mileage and hope to hold somewhere at about 60 miles a week. If I don't break down, this should give me a strong enough base to make a run at a Boston Qualifying time.

Happy running!

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

This kid is ready for a bib

I think he's got a 10-minute-mile in him. No?


I took it "easy" during Thursday morning's 10-miler. Never dipped below 7 minute-mile and averaged 7:52 for the entire run. Afterwards, a lot of us dipped into the Barton Creek springs, which are kept at a constant 68 degrees.

Brrrrrrr. But my legs loved it.


I'm feeling very fatherly right now. Fixed my kid's tricycle and installed his car seat in my car. Me and Noah hung out a lot today at Barnes and Nobles, where they have Thomas the Train set up for him (and other kids) to play with.

I'm running 5 miles Friday morning and 16 on Saturday. Then, I want to see Denzel Washington and John Travolta in The Taking of Pelham 123.

Have a great weekend everybody!

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Not running on National Running Day

I've run each of the last eight days prior to today, National Running Day.

That's 8 straight days covering 66.6 miles (interesting number, no?), an average of 8.33 miles per day.

A rundown:

May 26: 9.21
May 27: 8.43
May 28: 5.79
May 29: 7.02
May 30: 14.2
May 31: 6.33
June 1: 5.91
June 2: 9.71

So today, on what is supposedly the second biggest running day of the year (Boston Marathon 1st, right?), I rested. No running for me on National Running Day. My body is tired and so I'm going to listen to it.

Be back tomorrow for a 10- to 12-miler.

Happy running!

(Man in photo probably did not run 8 consecutive days, but somehow has abs I wish I had!)


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Gotta learn to run the easy days easy. But fast is sooooo fun!

In The Competitive Runner's Handbook (by Bob Glover and Shelly-lynn Florence Glover, Penguin Books, 1999), the authors talk about running in the heat and they use this interesting formula. They say if the sum of the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit and the percentage of the humidity is more than 150, don't run, or run with caution.

This morning with Team Rogue, it was 72 degrees and 90 percent humidity. That sum is 162. Of course, we didn't call off the run. And I did run with caution ... in the beginning.

The scheduled called for a 10-mile run, four miles less than Saturday's 14-miler. Even though the run was shorter, it felt harder.

But I took it easy the first five miles, moseying along at a 7:45 pace. And then I kind of lost my mind.

Some of the other runners who are wayyyyy faster than me (try sub 3:10 marathoners) had taken a different route, but by Mile 5, they were running with my group and they were doing low 7s and sub 7s. Now, I know I am supposed to keep my pace, and take it easy on these "easy days." But those guys (and one girl - dang, she was fast) kind of drew me in and the next thing I know, I'm following them. I hit Mile 6 in 6:50 pace. (My excuse: On Monday I ran 6 miles in 9:00 pace. I guess today I needed the Adrenaline rush).

Uhhh, I know. I know. A 6:50 is way too fast for an easy day, especially in this weather. Mile 7, we all slow down (7:54) because there is a water stop and a few lights as we run though the University of Texas at Austin. But by Mile 8, the gazelles are running again and there I am, on their heels and I finish that mile in 7:26. Not the fastest mile I've ever run unless you consider that much of it was uphill. But Mile 9 is slightly downhill and I'm pushing the gas a little now, running fast (6:57) and tempting my fate of getting an injury.

On the last mile, I decide to just keep my legs going and then do a half mile cool down. I cover the first half of Mile 10 in 3:17, a 6:34 pace. Heart rate by now is between 90 and 92 percent. That is just a little slower than my 5k race pace. I do the last half of Mile 10 in just under 4 minutes as I try to cool down.

As I'm stretching after the run, I check all my parts. I don't feel the worse for the wear, but you never really know if you've done any damage to yourself until the next day. So, I'll keep my fingers crossed. And more importantly, I'm going to take it easy for the entire run the next time I'm out with Team Rogue.

No need in getting myself injured now.

Miles done this week: 22
Wednesday - 4 easy
Thursday - 10 with Team Rogue
Friday - off (My first day off of running since May 25)
Saturday - 16 miles