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5ksandcabernets: July 2009


Friday, July 31, 2009

Happy Birthday Noah!

Look who turns 2 today...

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Funemployment? How I'm becoming a better marathoner

Had to laugh when I came across this story in the Wall Street Journal the other day about unemployed people becoming more fit because they have more time to train (and rest) for their favorite athletic activities.

In an article titled, "Slow economy, faster marathons," Reed Albergottit writes, "Americans might be poorer, but they certainly aren't slower. With the economy in the doldrums, more people are discovering that without those 12-hour workdays, they're able to pursue fitness goals like never before. Marathons, triathlons and road races are filling up in record time."

I think I have to agree with the premise of this article. During the lead up time to my previous four marathons, I'd do a 6 to 10 mile run, then quickly get home, shower, and go to work on tired legs.

Now, with no job, I can lengthen that run to 8 to 14 miles, take a dip in Barton Springs, have a coffee, come home and sleep.

I run more and certainly rest more.

But I'd rather be tired at work.

I see black people: There were 7 other blacks out on the trails at Town Lake today, a surprising number because I usually see just three or four of us running. All seven that I saw this morning were not running, but at least they were out there. The ones that stay in my head were this black woman in her late 50s who had a very good trot going on, and a black guy (with some other white guys) wearing a yellow Navy shirt and blue Navy shorts. The giveaway that he was a newbie runner was that he was wearing white, leather tennis shoes. But hey, he was out there.

Wanna know why I'm writing about seeing black people running? Click here.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Where are all the black joggers?

We are at a higher risk for high blood pressure, and we are 30 percent more likely to die from heart disease than our white counterparts, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. In a report issued July 16, the CDC said we (blacks) are 50 percent more likely than whites and 20 percent more likely than hispanics to be obese.

And despite our health problems, when we become adults we don't engage in one of the easiest, cheapest activities that is known to support heart health and trim waistlines: R-U-N-N-I-N-G.

Go to your local running trail and tell me how many black faces you see.

We gotta do better than this.

And I'm not saying running/walking is the end-all be-all. Some of us are into other recreational sports, and that's cool. But many of us do nothing. And sooner or later we will pay for the inactivity with shorter life spans or ill health. Since I am a runner, I want to start encouraging more blacks to run.

And so beginning today, I'm going to try to shine a little light on this issue. At the end of each post, I will note the number of black people I saw running.

When I ran Monday morning, the number was higher than usual (four). I saw a woman in her late 50s and a man in his 30s running. And I saw two men about my age walking. That's four people (five including myself) out of what had to have been more than 100 runners I saw when I ran from 7 to 8 a.m. Monday.

And even that was an improvement. Most of the time, I don't see any blacks when I run around Austin's Town Lake, even though we make up about 10 percent of the population. (I've seen three black women who are training for a road race through Rogue, which is one of the Austin-based runners clubs who train people to run marathons. When I ran in Fort Worth, I often bumped into one black woman (Vivian) and one black man (James) who ran the same trails as I did with Luke's Locker.)

Where are we at? We dominate the professional athletic endeavors, and I know you will find a lot of black men on the basketball courts or sandlot football fields.

But we don't run for recreation. We won't run. And when I say we, I don't mean the Kenyans and Africans who dominate the sport of running. I mean the American born black guy or girl.

I have not seen any studies about the number of American-born blacks who run, or participate in road races from 5ks to the marathon. Anecdotally, you'd have to be blind to know that for many of us, running just isn't our thing. I know the names and states of at least two dozen people who read or post things on my blog. Only two of the people I know, the bloggers who run, are black: Dawn from Connecticut and Reese from Oklahoma. I have also run into a few runners who belong to the National Black Marathoners Association.

I'm happy to report that my 60-year-old mom spends a lot of time on the treadmill. (And has even figured out how to text me while power-walking!)

I hope my white/hispanic/asian runner friends don't take offense to this post. It's people like you who got me into this running thing to begin with. And I am grateful.

But one day, it'd be nice to have to use more than one or two hands to count the number of black people I see out for their morning jog.

LAPTOP UPDATE: When Noah poured his cup of water on my computer Sunday, I just knew it would be toast. But after letting it drip dry, I turned it on last night and it fired up just fine.

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Terrible Twos?

My son will be two on Friday but he isn't waiting until then to act up.

His mother brought him to my apartment this afternoon. I gave him a
cup of water. He took three sips and poured the rest of it on my laptop.

"Look, Daddy," Noah said smiling.


I didn't yell at him or show any anger (though his mom immediately
grabbed him and put him in timeout.)

Nevertheless, my computer is drip-drying as we speak. Thank God for
iPhones, though I may not be blogging for awhile.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Race Prep Day: An encouraging run

The whole point of running with Team Rogue, for me, has been to run as many miles as I can, without breaking down. My hope is that the mileage will make me stronger, able to hold my paces much later in longer races.

This morning, we had our first "test run." We had a 20-miler. We were to run the first 8 comfortably. Then, from 8 to 18, we were supposed to run marathon goal pace, then coast in the final two miles.

My goal is to qualify for Boston. So marathon goal pace (MGP) is 3:20 or a 7:38 mile. That pace is easy for me to hold for the first two hours of a run. I've run half marathons 20 seconds per mile faster. But I wasn't sure how I'd do holding that pace for 10 miles after I'd already run 8 miles, in temperatures well over 75 degrees, and on a course that features lots of hills.


The run turned out great. During the MGP part of the run, I averaged 7:28 min/mile. I only failed to run goal pace on one mile - the first mile of MGP (7:42) - and that's because it took me awhile to warm up to the proper pacing.

On the two toughest miles of the course, where we had major hills on W. 15th St./Enfield and Windsor, I ran 7:36 and 7:30.

On five of the 10 miles, I was running in the low to mid 7:20s.

I wound up doing the entire 20-mile run (it was actually 20.4 miles) in 7:58 pace. Afterwards, we all dipped in Barton Springs. That water (kept at 68 degrees all year long) felt great!

I'd be lying if I didn't say that sometimes I wonder if all this mileage is really helping. When I was doing 40 miles a week on the mostly flat courses in Fort Worth, it was nothing for me to zip around the Colonial Country Club/TCU neighborhood in the low 7s. Of course, the last 10ks of all my marathons were just poop.

Now, well, I haven't had many low 7 runs because of all this heat and all these damn Austin hills. And running 60 miles a week just kills your legs.

But, it looks like these hills and heat and crazy mileage are doing their jobs: making me strong for the long runs.

NUTRITION: I treated today like a real marathon race day. Our run started at 5 a.m., so I awoke at 3 and had a piece of toast with honey and some orange juice - about 300 calories. During the run, I had thermolyte salt tablets at mile 6 and 12, and I had an orange-flavored Hammer GU at Mile 10.

I meant to take another GU at mile 16, but I forgot (was delirious). And by the time I got to the last water stop, I figured I'd just gut out the last few miles. If this were an actual marathon, of course, I would have taken another GU and some more salt.

I think if I had awaken earlier, I could have eaten a little more. We have another one of these "race prep" days in three weeks, so maybe I'll try more food then.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Dear Chase Credit Cards


I have never missed a payment. I have always paid more than the minimum. But in the mail today, I get a letter from your company saying you are closing my account because my total available credit on my credit cards is too low, and because I have a past due on one or more of my other credit accounts.

Hello!!!! I have not had a job since March, so the speed at which I am paying down my balances has slowed somewhat. Even without a job, I have continued to pay more than the minimum. Not just on, but on my other credit accounts.

And the past due? It is a medical bill for my son that I thought my insurance was going to pay.

And its not like I am using credit right now. I am not. But symbolically, this move stinks.

Way to kick a guy when he is down.


I let my membership to your dating web site go because it didn't work out for me.

Please stop sending me (phantom) emails from women claiming their interest for me. I know your game. You hope I view this attention I am getting from these (phantom) women as a sign that I need to re-sign with

But I know what will happen: The minute I sign up, these (phantom) women will suddenly disappear or stop communicating.

I'm no fool.

Leave me alone,

Monday, July 20, 2009

For one day, I have a job

Today marks the four-month anniversary since I left my job at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and curiously, I finally have a job.

OK. It's only for 1 day.

One of the sports editors from the Austin American-Statesman, a guy whom I briefly supervised some 10 years ago when we were both at the Star-Telegram, asked me last Friday if I wanted to write a few stories for the sports department. Two of the Statesman sportswriters would be on vacation and they needed a body to help cover this big high school sports convention in town.

So, I'm going to write about sports for the first time since I covered the Mavericks/NBA in the Spring of 2002. It won't be Dirk Nowitzki or Steve Nash today, but it will be a high school all-star basketball game. Maybe I'll see a future NBA player.

And more importantly, if the Statesman big-wigs like my work, maybe this is the beginning of my luck turning on the job front.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Daily run: I need more mind control.

Today was a quality workout at Team Rogue, a speed day. I love these days. They are exhilarating. You spend so many days running slow and easy that a fast run is just what your legs have been begging for.

The workout was 2x2 mile at your half marathon pace with a three minute recovery. We did a four-mile warm up north on Shoal Creek Blvd then ran back. I was not supposed to let myself run faster than 7:15 pace. And so in that sense, I failed. My mind couldn't, wouldn't put the breaks on my body.

When you only have to run two miles fast at a time and you get a break afterwards, its hard to control your pace.

And so here were my min/mile paces for each mile:

1 - 6:40
2 - 6:35
3 - 6:44
4 - 6:50 (slight uphill)
My times got slower but not for the reason you might think. I didn't get tired. I wasn't out of breath. No,after the first two miles, I decided to try really hard to run closer to the 7:15 pace that I was supposed to be at. Still, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't run any slower. (Most of the four miles were slightly downhill except for the last mile).

Most of the other runners also had the same kind of paces in relation to the time they were supposed to keep: 20 to 30 seconds faster and, like me, they got slower each mile trying to run the right pace. (For some, slower meant going from 5:30 pace to 5:45 -- Yikes. That's just unreal!)

I've got a 14-miler Saturday and I won't have any problems keeping the right pace (slow) for that run.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

If you like me on the track, you'll love me in an office cubicle

After the morning run with Rogue, the coach, Steve, said I'm "coachable."

"You know Kevin," said Steve, a former All-American who has run sub 14-minute 5ks, "I didn't know if you'd take to what we were saying about your pacing, but you've turned out to be pretty coachable."

Now, if someone will tell me I'm employable, I'll really be having a good day.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Daily run: 20-miler. A good day.

Another Saturday, another long run: 20 miles of the most hilliest terrain I've run on since I've been in Austin.

I nailed it: 20 miles in 2:50. Wooohoooo!!!!!

I didn't have breakfast in the morning. Didn't take a single GU during the run. (OK, its hard to eat breakfast when you awaken at 4:30 a.m. for a 5:30 start time. And the GU thing, well, I brought two with me, but just never felt like eating them. So they stayed in my fanny pack.)

To get through the 78-degree, 80-percent humidity, I had six thermolytes and tons of water. I never felt dizzy or lightheaded and felt much better than last Saturday's 20-miler, which was mostly on a flat surface.

I was even able to pick up the pace over the second half of the run, averaging 8:12 min/mile for the last 10 miles, including 8:00 min/mile for the last six.

Of course, this run means nothing in the whole scheme of things. I've had other 20-milers as fast as today (Ok, maybe not in this heat with these hills), and still bombed during the marathon.

So, I'll just take it for what it's worth: I had a good day.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Uhhh, Mr. President....

......Could you and the French President be a little less obvious in staring at that woman's, uh, well... stimulus package.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Steady state run: Comfortably harder than hard.

Ok, back to regularly scheduled programming....

Today (Thursday) was our first "quality" day in our Team Rogue marathon training.

We were supposed to do a warm-up, followed by a 7-mile steady state run, then cool down the last 1 plus miles. Yippee. We finally got the green light to run hard.
(This run would be the first this month where my average pace for the entire run was faster than an 8-minute mile. I was getting used to taking it easy on runs and liking it!)

Our coach, who also happens to be the women's cross country coach at the University of Texas, told us not to run this steady-state run too fast. Run by feel, he said, and if you just have to look at your watch/Garmin, don't run faster than marathon pace.

I kept my effort honest. It was a little bit harder than comfortably hard, But I think that's because the course was not flat at all. There were a lot of little rolling hills, so I could never really get comfortable, so even though my effort was consistent, my paces during the steady-state portion of the run were not consistent.

Here are the splits of those miles during Thursday's steady state portion of the run..

1 - 7:12 (Coach told us to start fast, then ease up)
2 - 7:26
3 - 7:33 (As you can see, I'm easing up)
4 - 7:15 (Was kind of down hill)
5 - 7:24
6 - 7:23
7 - 7:21 (Time was actually 6:38 in 9/10ths of a mile. Quick math means my pace was 7:21 for the mile)

So, my average pace for the steady state was 7:22. That's actually faster than the 7:30 pace I meant to hold on to. It felt pretty hard the whole way, but I don't think I overdid anything. I've run faster paces for longer distances, so it's just about getting my body used to running hard again. And, its about being able to run hard in the middle of a 60-mile week, as opposed to running hard in the middle of a 35 to 40 mile week.

There's a big difference, and I'm becoming more and more aware of it.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

On Steve McNair: Is it possible to be charitable and a cheat?

So the medical examiners in Nashville have concluded that former Titans quarterback Steve McNair was killed by his 20-year-old mistress who then turned the gun on herself. Tragic.

And now more stories are emerging about the, "dark side of McNair," as if all the charity work he did in Tennessee should be wiped out by his extramarital affair(s?)

My two points on this tragedy are these: Why are the media (a business I used to be apart of) acting so surprised about a man, a relatively famous and rich man, who cheats on his wife? And... isn't it possible to be charitable and a cheat?

I get the fact that the circumstances surrounding McNair's death have given his infidelity relevancy. Had he died in a plane crash, most of us would have never known about his mistress. Alas the fact that it was his mistress that, apparently, shot him, is the reason his "prowess" off the field has trumped his prowess on the field.

I'm not excusing McNair for cheating on his wife. If he wasn't ready to be a one-woman-man, he shouldn't have been married in the first place. But let me paint this picture for people who seem so surprised that such a nice guy could cheat on his spouse: You are a man. You are a man in your 20s or 30s. Your hormones are raging. Just raging. You have millions of dollars in your bank account. You are famous. Women are throwing themselves at you. Beautiful women. Beautiful women who, but for your fame, wouldn't give you a second look even if you were running naked down their street. On fire.

And you tell me. You tell me how many men, how many men in their 20s and 30s, whose moral compasses are still a bit off, wouldn't give in to that temptation, wouldn't succumb to the perfumed bosom or revealing hemline of a stranger in a hotel bar? (Let me say, had I been a millionaire in my 20s or 30s with women throwing themselves at me, I'm not so sure I would have been a great spouse.)

This isn't a new story, of course. And the adulterers aren't just limited to younger men. We've had cheating presidents (Kennedy, Clinton), presidential candidates (Edwards), and governors (Sanford, Spitzer), and you can say what they did was despicable, absolutely despicable.

But did that make them bad men? You telling me that getting some extra nookey on the side wipes out important legislation they may have signed, or charity work they may have done? Of course it didn't. It meant they were terrible husbands, that's all.

McNair was just a football player. A man with flaws, one of which got him killed. He leaves behind a devastated wife, and family members of his lover who probably felt he took advantage of a situation. And folks, I think infidelity is the worst thing you can do to your spouse (outside of violence). But cheating shouldn't wipe out all the good things you've done for your community/city.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Double-digit midweek runs: I'm holding up pretty well

Today's run: 14.5 miles in 2:00:30

I was originally going to run "just" 12 miles this morning. But the other three members of the Team Rogue gang I usually find myself running with (Jonathan, Cat, and Chris) were all going 14 (and Jonathan was going 20), so I decided I might as well do 14 miles as well.

I decided no matter what they did in the beginning of the run, I was going to take it easy. I think after our 20-miler Saturday, nobody was in the mood to run fast and that was a good thing. We moseyed along the first half of the run, which had a lot of little rolling hills, averaging about 8:50. The second half was mostly flat or  downhill and we picked up the pace just a bit, averaging about 7:50 for the second half of the run.

My legs felt much better today than they did Saturday.

I've run 65 miles the last six days and my body is starting to get used to the heavy mileage.

And that's a good thing, because we haven't even started doing any speedwork.

That starts Thursday.


Sunday, July 5, 2009

I'm pooped

Before all the fireworks and BBQ and hanging out with my son on the Fourth of July, I worked in a 20-mile run Saturday morning.

My plan was to do a progression run. Do the first five miles no faster than 8:45; The second five no faster than 8:30; The third five no faster than 8:15; and the last five no faster than 8:00 m/m average.

It was a progression run alright - progressively I felt worse after each mile. I guess when its 80 degrees and 80 percent humidity, the best laid plans don't often get carried out.

Here were my 5-mile average splits:

1-5:    8:57
7-10:   8:35 (Picked up the pace)
11-15: 8:59 (Took in a GU that didn't agree with me. Felt like crap the rest of the run)
16-20: 8:55

Total 20 miles in 2:57


Did an 8-mile "recovery run" today (Sunday) and legs felt like lead the whole way. As one of the runners said, "I need a recovery run from my recovery run."


The 20-miler gave me 60 miles for the week; my second 60-mile week in the last three weeks and the sixth consecutive week my total mileage has topped 50 miles. My legs are tired. But no injuries.

Next week, we start a new phase of training. We'll do a "steady-state" run on Thursdays, which probably means we'll do a 3 to 4 mile warm up, then run marathon pace or a little faster for four or five miles and then do a 1 to 2 mile cool down. For me, that'll mean hitting 7:30s in the middle of a what will probably be an 8 to 10-mile run.

I think I can do that.