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5ksandcabernets: August 2009


Monday, August 31, 2009

2009 August mileage and re-evaluating Saturday's 24-miler

August Miles

Runs - 23
Miles - 242.83 (personal best by .2 miles)
Time - 33 hours, 32 minutes, 49 seconds
Pace - 8:17 min/mile
Avg distance per run - 10.56
Avg mileage per day - 7.83

2009 Mileage

Runs - 175
Miles - 1,573.41 (I'm just 27 miles from besting my 2008 mileage)
Time - 8 days, 21 hours, 9 minutes, 57 seconds
Pace - 8:07 min/mile
Avg. distance per run - 8.99
Avg. mileage per day - 6.47


Re-evaluating Saturday's 24-miler...

I was not too happy that I cramped real bad in my right quad which did not allow me to go the entire 27 miles. But beginning Sunday afternoon and into today, I feel much better mentally. Much better.

By not completing the entire run, I got an in-close look at what my weaknesses are and where I need to get better during this final month before the marathon. I won't spend too much time here dwelling on what I need to do better because I went over that in my last post. But I do have some extra thoughts on why I constantly cramp in my right inside thigh (abductor muscle).

I used to be a big-time weight lifter before I became a runner. On leg day, I'd do tons of leg presses, and some squats. I did lots of work that strengthened my quads, not so much work on my hamstrings, and virtually no workouts that isolated the inside of my thighs. Looking back now, I can see I developed a leg imbalance.

Now, when I run particularly long distances, my quads and hamstrings work much harder than they should because I have virtually no inner-thigh strength. And at the end of Saturday's run, my inner right thigh cramped so bad that I couldn't walk. (No such problems with my inner left thigh, however. I think its because my right leg is my dominant leg and it does more than 50 percent of the work).

So, as we enter the final month of marathon training, I need to develop some more strength in my right inner thigh area. More stretching. More exercises that isolate the muscle.

I'll also work on the obvious stuff: Think about pacing and stick to the paces I'm supposed to run. Nutrition. Hydration. Limit the alcohol consumption.

Yep - that means less cabernets in 5ksandcabernets. Already, I've unplugged my home wine cellar. It sits empty and hot with not a single bottle inside. I'll have a glass or two at a restaurant, but I won't drink at home until the marathon is done.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

When a 24-mile workout is not good enough.

First the good news....

*I was at or better than marathon pace for each of the 11 miles that the 27-mile workout called for, which included two miles on the track after we'd already run 20 miles.

*I've been nursing a sore left calf/soleus muscle for the past few weeks and it did not give me one problem.

*I lived to write a blog post about this workout.

And now the bad news

*I only completed 24 miles of the scheduled 27-mile workout.

*Major cramping started setting in around Mile 22 and by the end of Mile 23, I was in full rigor. I was 3 minutes slower than pace for Mile 24 and our coach finally made me stop.

*Even though I completed a 24-mile training run for the first time in my life, and even though it was in the low 80s at the end of this workout and we ran through some wicked hills, I am now wondering if I have the stones to Boston Qualify (3:20).

Workout synopsis.

We had what turned out to be a 1.7-mile warm-up. Then we had to run a mile around the track at 5K or better pace. I ran that mile in 6:08.

Then we had like a 2.3-mile "cool down" to sort of recover our legs/lungs from that crazy fast mile.

Then the marathon-goal portion of the workout began: 5 miles at MGP, then a 5 minute rest, then 4 miles at MGP. I really really really tried to concentrate on not going too fast during MGP. My goal pace for my key marathon is 7:40 min/mile and on Saturday I tried to keep my paces between 7:35 and 7:45.

I nailed the perfect paces on the first five miles of the MGP portion of the workout (7:40, 7:39, 7:37, 7:37, 7:29). Ok, ok. I know you see that 7:29, but that mile was mostly downhill.

Where I began to screw up is on the 4-mile portion of the MGP workout. (7:33, 7:21, 7:32, 7:19). What happened to my patience? I'm all over the place, right? And I'm too fast, especially that 7:21 and 7:19. That's almost 20 seconds faster than goal pace. During that stretch, I knew we'd have an "easy" 5-miler coming up, and I believed that my legs would be able to recover.

Boy, was I wrong. First of all, that "easy" stretch was up some of the craziest hills you'd ever wanna see in Austin. So, even though I'm running 9-plus minute miles, my legs are actually taking a beating because of all the climbing we are doing. And the downhills were so steep that you spent the whole time trying to break for fear that you were going to fall on your face. This portion of the workout just killed my quads.

Second of all, that 5-mile stretch was actually 6 miles. So, by now, we'd run 20 miles and even though we'd run a fast mile on the track, 9 miles at marathon pace, and six miles of crazy ass hills, the worst part of the workout was still to come.

The hill portion of the workout ended with us at the track for 6 miles. We had to run the first two miles (8 laps) at marathon pace, the second two miles at half marathon pace, and the last two miles at 10k pace.

I wasn't too jazzed about having to run 24 laps around the track, but I took off. Some of the Team Rogue runners who were not running/injured/finished already played the role of cheerleader or helped give out water on the course. (Thanks especially to Ruth _ she is one of the coaches, and to Mike, who took me up on my idea to bring a spatula to the course to scrape the corpses (and there were plenty of us) off the track.)

My first two miles were a little fast (7:34, 7:31). At this point, however, I'm happy that I've run 22 miles and been at or better than pace for each of the key miles. I'm even more psyched because my hamstrings started cramping in the middle of Mile 22, but I held the cramps off to run that 7:31. The rest of the workout, I figure, is just gravy. I settle in for Miles 23 and 24, which I was going to try to run at 7:20 pace.

I hit Mile 23 in 7:22 pace. I stop for water and my legs decide they've had enough. The inside of my right quad, my dominant leg, balls up and forces me to stop and try to stretch things out. This is the same kind of cramping I usually have at Mile 16 or 17 of my marathons. The cramp eases just a little bit and I'm able to do a lap around the track. Then my left quad starts to seize and I try to work that cramp out and run another two laps. Then my calf starts cramping, and by now, I know I don't have much left. My pace has slowed so much that my lungs and heart were fresh and ready to go, but my legs are just not happy.

I get through Mile 24 in 9:45 and then try to gut out the last two miles (8 laps). I did 1 1/2 more laps before the coach saw my haggard looking gimp-limp and made me stop.

What I'd do different....

*Though I'm getting better about pace, I still have work to do. The two miles where I was 20 seconds faster than MGP are just absolutely unacceptable. I'll crash and burn if I do anything like that during the first 20 miles of the marathon.

*My nutrition, I thought, was perfect. I got up at 3 a.m. for the 5:30 a.m. run and had a bowl of dry cereal and some coffee with cream (probably should not have had dairy creamer, though). I took a GU at Miles 5, 10, 14, 17, and 20. Where I could have done better was my salt intake. During all of my training runs, I usually take two thermolyte tablets at Mile 4, then every 5 to 6 miles after that. On Saturday, I got screwed up on where the water stops were and didn't take my first salt tablets until Mile 10. And I could tell the difference. My legs felt real tight for much of the run - I just could never get lose. And the salt I took after that was not enough to undo the harm I'd done to myself in this 80-degree weather for the first 10 miles.

*I'd bring more salt on the run. I took 8 tablets. I took my last two before the beginning of the final track-portion of the workout. If I had brought more salt, I would have stopped after Mile 22, taken salt and proceeded. Maybe I could have finished the workout,and maybe not. But I'll never know.

*Start stretching earlier. When I first felt the cramps coming on, somewhere around Mile 22, I should have stopped and done my stretches for my quads and calves. I waited until after Mile 23 and by then, it was too late. I tried stretching my right quad by pulling my leg back to my butt and it just made things worse and so the stretch I did was an incomplete one.

Where this run leaves my frame of mind....

*Scared shitless. The marathon is on Oct. 4. And yeah, it is going to be in Portland with much favorable weather, and yeah, the course is going to be flat, but cramping the way I did is a little worrisome.

Still, I ran 24 miles. I keep saying that to myself over and over. I ran 24 miles and the total time was 3:17 with the average pace being 8:13 min/mile. If the marathon had been today, I would have PR'd by more than 15 minutes.

But the marathon wasn't today.And if I want to go to Boston, I need to PR by more than 30 minutes.

I've got a lot of work to do.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Today is my birthday. To celebrate, I'm going to bed early.

I turned the Big Four One today.

If I want to live to see Four One and a day, I'd better be in bed by, say, 9.

That's because Saturday morning, we have THE RUN FROM HELL....

A 27-mile long run.

Here is how it's broken up....

1.5 mile warm-up
1 mile fast around the Anderson High School track
2 mile recovery
5 miles at marathon goal pace (Important that I stay at 7:40 min/mile here) w 3 to 5 minute recovery
4 miles at marathon goal pace
5 miles of hills
10k progression run around the track with the first two miles at marathon goal pace (7:40), then two miles at half-marathon goal pace, then two miles at 10k pace.
Then a 1.5 mile run back to our cars.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How many unemployed writers in Austin have more than 15 years of experience? Can't be that many, can it?

Sorry to continue bludgeoning you with bad news on my job search front, but this was in my in-box this morning:

Thank you for your recent interest in our posting on Craigslist for a Public Affairs reporter for (blank online publication). We received a number of very good applicants and have contacted those we will interview.

However, our needs can and do change rapidly, and we will be keeping the information you sent us on file in case we have future openings.

Again, thank you for your interest.

Ok, so, I have 18 years experience as a reporter/editor. 18 years. I've interviewed city councilmen, college presidents, cops, community leaders, crazy ass soccer moms, crooked preachers, and Cowboys football players. ... And you mean to tell me that this online publication didn't even want to bring me in for an interview? You've got to be kidding me!

I'm not sure how many people became a finalist for that job, but let's say the number is five. Ok. You telling me that there are 5 people living in Austin, who are unemployed, who have more experience as a writer than I do? Come on, man. I'm not saying I'm Edward R. Murrow, but I'm sure that publication is not interviewing him for the job either.


From the department of, I Hope This Doesn't Become a Trend: Nancy brought Noah over today. Noah thought the three of us were going to go to the mall. But when Nancy got in her car to leave so it would just be the fellows hanging out, Noah started crying.

"Mommmmmmaaaaaaa!" he cried, over and over.


If there were any doubts that Noah would be a momma's boy, that erased them all.

I put Noah back in his mother's car, gave him a big kiss and a hug, and we promised we'd take Noah together tomorrow to Town Lake. We're going to do our best to get along for Noah's sake. But I hope this doesn't become a trend. I mean, this is the first time Noah cried when he saw his mother leave. I mean, cried big tears. I guess, however, this happens to all dads, so I'll just have to get used to it.

I see black people: I've blogged often about how I rarely see someone who looks like me while on the trail. And even rarer has been the time that I've ever seen a black person working at a running retail store. I don't mean a place like Academy or Foot Locker. I mean a hardcore, specialty running store, like Luke's Locker or Run-On in the Fort Worth/Dallas area or Run Tex or Rogue in Austin.

Actually, change rare to never.

Until today. .... Run-Tex on Riverside and 1st Street. About 6:30. I'm in the area and need some GU and some recovery workout powder. I pull in. And there she was. A black woman. I wanted to ask her all kinds of questions, like, 'Do you run,' and 'How did you find a place like this?' But then I thought, 'Silly me - she is just like a white/hispanic woman. She probably runs. And she probably needed the job.' ... Still, though, it was a site I have never ever ever seen in the 5 plus years I've been plunking down money at specialty running stores.

Maybe I'll interview her the next time I'm in the shop.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

First track workout

We have entered the speed portion of our Portland Marathon workout schedule.

Today called for a 2.5 mile warmup that took us to one of the local high school tracks, then we did 6 by 1 mile intervals. During each of the mile intervals, we were to do the first half at our half-marathon pace and the second half of the mile at our 10k pace. We rested for two minutes between each interval.

Before I list my times, I will say I had a little confusion about what my paces were supposed to be. Do I use my half/10k paces based on my PRs at those distances? Or do I use my half/10k paces based on my 5K pr?

Needless to say, trying to figure out pace is just toooo much thinking for so early in the morning and it was still too dark to have to look down at my Garmin every 200 meters to see if I hitting my times. I decided that I would just run according to how I felt. (What a novel idea?). For each mile, I'd run the first half like I was running a half marathon and I'd put in a little more effort on the last half-mile.

Here are the splits.



It took me a while to warm up as you can see my first two miles were my slowest times. I felt in control of my breathing and my legs for each set and was very happy that my last 1-mile interval was the fastest of the six, though I got a little carried away during the 10k portion of the fourth interval.

Turns out, the average half-marathon pace is about 20 seconds faster than my half-marathon PR, and the 10k pace is about 40 seconds faster than my 10k PR.

But... before you go gnashing your teeth, saying, "That damn Kevin ran faster than he was supposed to" consider this: My half and 10k PRs came way before I started running 60 miles a week with Team Rogue, so I'm probably in much better shape now than I was then.


The times for Tuesday's workout are right in line with what my half marathon and 10k paces should be based on my 5K PR of 19:25.

If I plug in my 5K pr numbers, Tuesday's workout should have had me running the first half mile in 3:24 and the second half mile in 3:15.

My average half-mile times were 3:24 and 3:10.

It's a workout I'll gladly take.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Not sure if I got the job, but my leg feels better

Well, I had a 36-minute phone interview Monday for a part-time writing position with a local business/health outfit. Thought I had a good interview... BUT..... there seemed to be a misunderstanding on one of the questions I was asked. In a nutshell, it was like the guy asked the question in French and I answered in German. Ugggg. I know it was bad because the guy finally said, "Well... ok, let's move on to something else."


So, maybe I didn't get that job. But I did get a nice letter from a hiring manager at another company (that I won't name). The manager, in part, said she was sorry to hear that I was laid off and was going to show my resume around to some other managers.

Whether this company hires me or not (and they do have an opening I qualify for) - that was the nicest thing any employer has said to me.

INJURY FRONT: Well, I just couldn't help myself. I know I said I was going to take Monday off because of some leg pain that I was having. But I awoke Monday down in the dumps a little (job, son, hurt leg) and figured I just needed to get out of the house and get some adrenaline flowing through my body, some good old endorphins.

I strapped on my shoes and was just going to walk fast to get some blood moving to my sore leg. Then I started a slow shuffle, then a slow jog. There was a little pain, but not as much as I thought there would be. And in fact, because I ran my 15 miles on Saturday very conservatively and took Sunday off, my legs were actually feeling fresh. Very fresh.

So.... my run turned from slow shuffle, see if I can get through the pain to ... a marathon pace workout. And the funny thing is, the faster I went, the better my leg felt. I wound up doing 7 miles with the last 6 right at marathon pace (between 7:34 and 7:44 min/mile). My leg was pretty much pain free after the run, which was not the way I thought I'd feel, but I wasn't complaining. Thanks for the idea about heat/ice Allison.

I'll continue to ice and heat and roll my soleus muscle and hopefully I'm totally pain free in a few weeks.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

What ails me

Mind: It looks like I'm going to have to get a lawyer to make sure I get proper parental rights with Noah. I've tried to be civil with his mother. But I've noticed that she makes it harder for me to see him when she is mad at me. And when she is mad at me, she only lets me see him when she needs to run errands. I won't get into the details of our arguments, but let's just say things got real ugly Saturday.

Body: I've got a sore soleus/peroneal muscle that is also giving me pain on the outside of my ankle. I've been rolling and stretching and usually this pain goes away after the first few miles when I'm running. But Saturday, the pain never went away - and it didn't help that I ran 15 miles on a 14-mile route because I got lost. So, I think, for the first time since April, I'm going to take two consecutive days off and not run again until Tuesday. I'm going to need the rest anyway: We have a 26-mile long run scheduled for Saturday.

Soul: Hmmm... I can't run. I can't see my son. And I don't have a job.

Speaking of jobs: I got another rejection letter in the mail Saturday from a would-be employer. The best line read: "Although we were impressed with your abilities and accomplishments, we have filled the position with a candidate whose qualifications were better suited to our current needs."

I'm not going to "out" the potential employer because they said they would keep my information on file for six months. Who knows, maybe they'll give me another look, though I highly doubt it.
By the way, I do have a phone interview for a job Monday. It's part time writing/editing gig, only 24 hours a week, but it pays up to $30/hour. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Daddy, I'm looking for some trouble...

....Less than 10 minutes later, he poured his milk all over my couch. (At least it wasn't on my computer this time.) And how can you get mad when this is what stares back at you.

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Regarding your City of Austin Application...

Dear Applicant:

Thank you for your time and interest in Equal Employment/Fair Housing Investigator Senior, 065823. The hiring process for this position is complete and a finalist has been selected. We appreciate your interest in the City of Austin and encourage you to continue to review our website for additional vacancies.


City of Austin
Human Resources Department
Employment Services Division


Come on, people. I could have done that job with my eyes closed.

According to the City of Austin Web site, that job's primary responsibilities include...

1.Interpret Federal, State, and local laws/ordinances concerning discrimination in employment, housing, or public accommodation.

2.Receive phone inquiries or walk-in complaints of discrimination in employment, housing, or public accommodation.

3.Refer and/or assign new complaints/charges to investigators in accordance with established procedures.

4.Interview complainants to determine nature of complaint.

5.Investigate complaints by obtaining statements from witnesses or other involved parties and conducting research
necessary to evaluate the merits of the complaint.

6.Analyze data gathered during the investigation to determine the merits of the complaint.

Interview people? Interview people? Come on, City of Austin, I've only interviewed thousands of people for the last 18 plus years. Yeah, I would have had to learn some new terminology, and some new procedures. But as a reporter, interviewing and investigating was like breathing and eating.


Monday, August 17, 2009

I need a job

If anybody knows anybody that needs an out of work, former Dallas Cowboys sports writer who has also covered government, city halls, and public health for four newspapers since 1991, please direct them to my LinkedIn profile.

I'm open to anything, though most of my experience is as a reporter/journalist, writer.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Marathon prep workout: Wall, meet Kevin. Kevin, meet wall.

Well, that hurt.

On my last post, I said Thursday's workout, which featured a 5-mile portion where we ran two minutes hard and two minutes easy, was the hardest of the summer.

Check that.

Saturday's workout - the second of four marathon prep workouts we've had this summer - was the toughest of the year. It broke me. I met the wall and it is unforgiving.

The workout was this: A two-mile warm up. Then 3 miles at marathon pace, followed by a half-mile cooldown, followed by 3 miles at half marathon pace, followed by a half-mile cooldown. We repeated this workout so that we ended up running marathon pace (MGP) for 9 miles and half marathon pace (HMGP) for 6 miles. We ended the workout with a 1 to 3 mile cool down. The total mileage for me was 20.5 miles.

The purpose of the workout, coach said, was to see if we could hang at marathon pace after three miles running 20 to 30 seconds faster during the half marathon portion of the workout. The half-mile cooldown was also a key component of the workout: not only did it give you a little rest, but it made you have to get back on pace after your body had shutdown during the rest.

Since I'm trying to run a 3:20 marathon, my goal marathon pace is 7:40 min/mile and my half marathon pace is 7:20 min/mile. I told myself, made a promise to myself that I wouldnt let myself go faster than 7:30 for marathon pace. Stupidly, however, I didn't have a real good plan for what my half-marathon pace should be. So, each of my half-marathon-pace miles were sub 7:05.

And, it turns out, I didn't keep my marathon-goal-pace promise either.

So, I was at pace or faster than pace on 15 of the 17 miles. The two miles where I failed were the last two miles. I hit the wall. Everything hurt. The only reason I kept going is because Mike was screaming at me, "Come on, don't punk out.. Do it for Noah .... You only got two miles to go. ... Come on don't you want this." I haven't felt pain like that since the end of a marathon. But I never walked and my pace didn't drop off too much - 8:00 min/mile instead of 7:40.

I could blame the heat (low 80s by the end of the workout). But I won't. I knew it was hot. But I ran faster than pace anyway and it finally got me in the end. Good thing this was just a workout. There is no way I'll do any of my miles during my goal marathon at half-marathon pace.

Here is the mile-by-mile break down

Mile 1 2 3 Avg
MGP ---- 7:30...7:31....7:38 ---- 7:33

HMGP -- 6:59...6:56....7:04 --- 6:59

MGP ---- 7:22...7:31....7:25 --- 7:26

HMGP -- 7:02...7:02.....7:00 --- 7:01

MGP ---- 7:35...8:02.....8:00 --- 7:52


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hardest workout of the year: But I'm still standing

The quality workouts at Team Rogue are coming fast and furious now. During every run, coach is making us do all or part of it in some kind of tempo-hill-interval-blow-out-your-lungs type of pace.

Thursday morning was a 12.7 mile run that included a warm up, then 5 miles where we had to run hard for two minutes, then easy for two minutes. Then repeat until we were done with the five miles. Then we had water, a one-mile cool down, then we had to run between our tempo and half marathon pace for 3.5 miles before ending the run with another 1-mile cool down.

The hardest part of the run for me was the 5-mile portion, where we were on and off for 2 minutes at a time. No stopping. No water. I've run 5 miles a thousand times in my life, but this was probably the hardest 5-mile workout I've run, at least for this season. It's a good thing that one of the guys I was running with, Jon A., had programmed his Garmin to beep every two minutes. We'd take off for two minutes hard and just as your lungs and legs began to revolt, Jon's watch would beep and you knew it was time to recover for two minutes.

It seemed like it took forever to run that 5-mile part. And the last 1.5 miles was just brutal. We were running up a street named Balcones and some of those stretches had us running the hard part where we climbed 50 feet or more in two minutes. I have to admit, sometimes I wanted to extend the 2-minute rest time another 30 seconds or so. I mean, who would know if we were on the hard or easy part, right? But, no... Jon kept us honest. He'd countdown near the end of the recovery period and yell, "Let's go..." ... But, he was also very good about yelling, "Easy, easy," when it was time to stop running hard.

We wound up doing 10x2 minutes hard with a two-minute recovery jog. Most of my min/mile paces on the hard running were between 6:45 and 7:15, though they hit the high 7s and low 8s on a few of the intervals that were steep inclines. The good thing is that I had exactly the same pace (6:47) on the first and the last 2-minute interval.

I was happy to be done with that, and odd as this may sound, the 3.5-mile tempo run that followed seemed easier. I hit 7:20 on each of the first two miles of the tempo run, 7:05 on Mile 3, and 6:59 pace for the last half mile, most of which was down hill.

We have another crazy workout Saturday: 2 mile warm up, 3 miles marathon pace, 1/2 mile cool down, 3 miles half-marathon pace, 1/2 mile cool down. We will then repeat the marathon/cool-down/half-marathon bit until we get to Mile 19, then we do a 2 to 4 mile cool down.

The dog days of summer are definitely here for marathon training. And it's a good thing I have not been bitten... yet.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Training harder/faster than the time I need to Boston Qualify.

This post is sort of a piggyback on my post last week in which I detailed why I run fast/hard on runs of 10 to 14 miles.

Tuesday morning, Team Rogue had a 6 mile warm-up, some hill repeats in which we used an exaggerated knee lift, 2x800 at tempo pace, and then 4 miles back to the finish line. The total run wound being around 12 miles.

During the "warm-up" I felt great. I always feel great on Tuesdays. (I think it was Sadie who said this morning that the further away your legs get from Saturday's 20-miler, the better they feel). It's normally on Tuesday's that I try to keep up with the Elite Team Rogue runners (who, by the way, were not running anywhere near the paces that have allowed most of them to run at or under 3 hour marathons).

Anyway, by the end of the warm-up, I found myself running around 7:30 pace. As I'm stopping to get water and prepare for the hill part of the run, I comment on our coach's haircut and he gives me this glare and says nothing to me. Now you know what, maybe he didn't even see me, but it seemed like he wasn't too happy that my piss-poor-ass was running at the front of the pack. (He has said to me in the past that I run too fast for my own good.) What I'll say is this: Coach, the only reason I was near the front of the pack is because the elites were running so slow. 7:30s is like a day at the park for some of those guys, but it's not like it is a pace I can't handle either. 7:30s is slower than the paces I hold for every race I've run recently except for the marathon. 7:30 is well-within my aerobic range, though not a pace I'd want to run on every 12-mile training run.)

Before I make my point, let me continue with the rest of the workout. I did the hill repeats, fine. No problem. I did the 800-meter intervals in like 6:15 pace - I know, crazy crazy crazy. Shoulda slowed down. But it was only 800 meters and before anything started hurting, it was over. On the four-mile run back to the finish, I coasted most of the way, understanding that drills were done. No need to push anything. Near the end, the elites start to take off and I decide, "what the heck" - let's see if I can stick with them. I wound up doing 6:49 for the last mile.

I'm saying all this to say three things: 1) I want to qualify for Boston - I need to run 3:20 which is 7:40 min/mile, 2) I want to have fun qualifying for Boston - during training and during the Boston Qualifying marathon itself, and 3) I want to know when I toe the line at my next marathon that running a 3:20 marathon is soooo in the bag that I don't have any worries or frayed nerves.

I didnt run with Team Rogue just to finish a marathon, or even eek out a marathon PR. I get my ass up three times a week at 4:30 a.m. and run in 80-degree heat because I wanted to blow my PR out of the water. I'm hitting 7:30s and 7:20s during mid-week long runs but I'm never out of breath, am able to join in on the conversations going around me, and don't feel like I've blown my energy for the rest of the day.

I've not missed one workout, NOT ONE, because of an injury. And without a job, I'm getting plenty of recovery time. I think I'm probably one of the only guys who can take two- and three-hour naps during the day. I also make sure to take it easy on the days I don't run with Team Rogue. On Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays, I run anywhere from 4 to 7 miles and my average pace is usually in the high 8s or low 9s.

I could readjust my marathon goal to say 3:16 (7:30 pace) or even faster. But I don't want to get greedy. I wanna work real hard in training - without getting hurt, or running anaerobically - that on marathon day, running 7:40 mile after mile will be a piece of cake - relatively speaking. I mean, at Mile 23 is anything ever easy? And trust me, I plan on being disciplined enough to not let myself go too much faster than goal pace until I'm well into the 20s. (I've run enough marathons to know what happens when you run too fast in the beginning.)

So, coach, if you were mad at me don't be. You've done your job, dude. Your training program for me (60 miles/week with a cutback to 50 miles every third week) is having its desired effect. I'm stronger today than when I first began this maniacal marathon training program in May. My legs have gotten used to the pounding and the speed I had when I was running 35 to 40 miles a week on fresh legs last Spring and Winter is slowly coming back.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

10 years ago this weekend...

So, I'm watching the NFL Hall of Fame game right now. And it reminds me of what I was doing exactly 10 years ago this weekend: I was actually covering this game as a writer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. This time, in 1999, it was the Cowboys against the Cleveland Browns, who were playing their very first game since their former owner, Art Modell, moved the original Browns from Cleveland to Baltimore a few years earlier.

Anyway, the summer of 1999 was a turning point in my life (and, it wasn't the right turn, I'm afraid to say). Back then, I was dating one woman who was really great. Just great. She got me. Not only was there physical attraction, but there was intellectual stimulation as well. Problem is, she was a mom. And I just wasn't ready to be an instant father. But I still went out with her because she was fun, and smart - (and not to mention good looking).

Now, what does the Cowboys-Browns game have to do with this story? I'd actually spent the first few days of that road trip in Wisconsin locales such as La Crosse, River Falls, or Green Bay covering NFL training camps. While I was in Green Bay, a really good friend of mine sent me roses and a bottle of wine to my hotel. This was a friend I had known for 5 years and I was really kind of crazy about but she had a boyfriend. She sent wine and roses and let me know that she was breaking up with her live-in boyfriend.

I was ecstatic and stopped going out with the girl whom I had so much in common with to be with the "friend" whom I had known for five years. Me and that "friend" would marry each other in September of the next year.

We had NOTHING in common.

And it was the biggest mistake of my life. I'm not going to bash my ex-wife here. Half of our problems were my fault, half were hers.

The interesting thing is, 10 years later, I've never met a woman like the one I was originally going out with, who totally got me.

I'm not in mourning or anything.

But it is funny what a football game makes you think about.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

You can do a lot of things with a map

I usually bemoan the fact that we at Team Rogue run so many different routes that we need to carry maps.

But not this morning. And not because I needed the maps to keep from getting lost.

Let me explain: I've been pretty sick all week. My kid got sick at his birthday party and he's been coughing and spitting on me all week and it's made me sick. Bones achy. Nose runny. Throat scratchy. Stomach twisted all up.

But there was a 20-mile run Saturday and I was definitely going to run as much of it as I could.

My stomach had other plans, though. Three times during the run, I had to go so bad that it felt like my bowels were going to explode. There were plenty of places to go and thank God it was still dark each time I had pick out the bush or set of trees I thought had the best chance of having no snakes rustling around.

The bigger problem was that none of these bushes or trees came with sanitary paper.

And that's where the maps came in. I had taken two with me because we were running two different courses. And thank goodness for that. Without getting too descriptive, let's just say I rationed each map and they worked as well as Charmin.

As far as the run went, I was very weak today and going to the bathroom took a lot out of me, so to speak. I took two GUs, four salt tablets, drank tons of water/power aide and took an extra 30 seconds or so at each water stop.

I didn't quite make 20 miles, but I think 19.7 is far enough.My average pace was 8:42 min/mile (I stopped my Garmin during water/bathroom breaks, etc). I could feel The Wall getting real close several times along the way, but I never walked and was able to fight off some quad cramping by stretching and changing my stride a little bit.

Not a great run by any means, but it was the kind of "gutsy" run I probably need (No pun intended). I'd been blowing and going during my last few long runs and it was nice to know I could hang in and complete a long run when everything wasn't going my way.

Anyways, the run gave me 65 miles for the week, a personal best.

I'll never complain about having to run with a map again.

I see black people: When I finished the run, Mike from Just South of the Dot said, "Hey, Kevin, I saw two today." What Mike was saying was that he saw two black women running, D and another black woman I sometimes see who is running with another Team Rogue group. D, by the way, is coaching beginning marathoners. "I love doing this, helping people, D said.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I'm not going to let the elite Team Rogue runners have all the fun

You know you are having a good day running when you find yourself running step for step with other runners who've all run sub 3-hour marathons.

That's where I found myself this morning, on a 14-mile run no less.

Granted, these guys (and one really really really fast girl) were not running their hardest (Neither was I - sub 7:30 pace is something I'm comfortable with), and at any minute, they could have dropped their pace to sub 6:30 and left me wheezing.

I thought it was funny that some of the guys razzed me a little bit when I caught up and stayed with them for much of the run:

"What, is this your MGP (marathon goal-pace) run," one of them said. Then, when he noticed some other "new faces" running near the front of the pack, he added as we stopped for water, "This must be a testosterone run."

Another guy said to me, "Now be careful because we are going to speed up here in a second."

Finally, another guy said, "What, was last week your drop down (in mileage) week and now you got fresh legs?)"

I just smiled and kept running, though I didn't think I needed a note from my mommy to run fast.

Guys: I know you are all much faster than me. I know your bad marathon day is 20 to 30 minutes faster than my PR. I know that when you work at 70 percent, I have to work at close to 85 percent to keep up. And I get it: These medium long runs are not supposed to be track or tempo workouts or intervals. But every once in a while, I'm going to blow and go and test out all this new fitness I'm attaining. It's just no fun to run 60 miles a week when every mile is slow and plodding.

Running fast is fun. And if you wanna put me in my place, you can always speed up. I won't chase you.


Monday, August 3, 2009

I'm no longer a (trail running) virgin

Had my first taste of a real trail Sunday morning. Met up with one of the Team Rogue coaches, Ruth, and some other runners for 5 miles on the Barton Creek Greenbelt.

In a word: Harder than I could have ever imagined. You don't skirt around at 7:00 min/mile pace through a real trail, unless you want to hurt yourself. Each step was an adventure. Rock. Twig. Tree root. I never knew "running" a 10-minute-mile would make me so tired - especially when we are just talking about Mile 2.

And I felt even worse on Mile 3 - and the funny thing is we walked for about a 1/4 of that mile, up this huge hill. We didn't walk so much as climb. Hey, this water bottle is getting in the way of me hanging on to this rock. We were walking and climbing and walking and climbing and I. Was. Out. Of Breath. And it was a 14-minute mile.

Sheesh. Where is the hard, hot concrete when you need it?

Anyways, I got through 5.5 miles of trails in a little more than an hour. (The time sounds like the last five miles of all of my marathons). Afterwards, my ankles hurt, but I was glad to have done it.

I see black people: I just knew, knew, knew I wouldn't see anybody that looked like me running through what is a basically a forest in Austin. I mean, we don't mess around too much in habitats that remind you of something out of Friday the 13th. But lo and behold, as we were near the finish, I saw this 20-something black woman, on a bike no less. Now see, she was much braver than I, because it was hard for me to run through those jagged rocks and tree branches and here this woman was, helmet and everything, traversing this place on a bike. Way to go, Sistah!

I also saw 7 black folks on the Town Lake trails dirt path on Monday morning. The notable thing was that there were more black men than women. Usually, the sisters outnumber the brothers by a 3 to 1 margin. But not today. Still, it has become clear that the Sisters in Austin are much more fit than the Brothers.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

July 2009 mileage

I ran 24 of 31 days in July averaging more than 10 miles a run. The good thing is I felt stronger as the month went on.

Here are my July running totals...

Miles; 242.54 (personal best up from 241.66 in June)
Time: 33 hours, 44 minutes, 4 seconds (also a personal best up from June)
Pace: 8:20 min/mile

I see black people:
None on Saturday as I ran a 14-miler through Northwest Austin (Shoal Creek, Mesa, etc) ... But when I ran Friday, I saw 7 people that looked like me running on the trails at Town Lake. Most notable was this 30-something black woman. She wore hoop earrings, but don't let the jewelry fool you. This woman was an athlete. Strong. Her stride was strong, and more impressively, she had chiseled arms that would win her many an arm wrestling contest.

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