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5ksandcabernets: March 2011


Monday, March 21, 2011 is now

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Rick Roll: How my chance encounter with Governor Perry created social media buzz for 5ksandcabernets

Poynter's link sent 5ksandcabernets viral

Tuesday was a crazy day. When I blogged/Twittered/Facebooked about my chance encounter with Texas Governor Rick Perry, I had no idea of the buzz it would generate in social media.

I'm a journalist, and so looking back, I can see why the post had some traction: Perry is a (very) newsworthy individual who had some interesting things to say about the newspaper business and social media, and just days earlier, he had the social media universe in uproar because he blocked some reporters from his twitter feed.

Still, I wasn't writing this post thinking, "Woo-hooo, I'm breaking some news here." I was just blogging from the standpoint of a regular guy who goes home from work and tells his friends, "You won't believe who I ran into today."

The Star-Telegram got the traffic started.

In my Tuesday post, I linked to a column written by Star-Telegram columnist Bud Kennedy on the Perry-Twittergate. On Tuesday morning, Kennedy and Star-Telegram reporter Aman Batheja started the social media parade by referencing my blog post on Facebook posts and in a Star-Telegram politics blog. That got the traffic on 5ksandcaberents off to a red hot start. In the 10 o'clock hour alone, I had 265 pageviews. (I'd never had 265 pageviews in one day in the three-year history of my blog).

Just after the Star-Telegram's link-love, my post was picked up the Poytner Institute's media columnist, Bill Romenesko. (For runners who follow this blog wrinkling their foreheads, this would be akin to a post you wrote being picked up by Runnersworld). Then the Dallas Morning News, D Magazine, and the Fort Worth Weekly, chimed in by linking to the Perry post through their online political content.(The FW Weekly took a cheap shot at the Star-Telegram's mention of me getting a "scoop.")

The Dallas Morning News' link

I also saw the post mentioned on the Houston Chronicle, Texas Watchdog, and the Texas Observer. (Though curiously, it did not get one peep out of the Austin American Statesman, the very place where Governor Perry lays his head each night.) Dozens of people tweeted the post and several people posted messages on my blog, including an editor I used to work for at the Dallas Morning News who remembered a bizarre telephone encounter I once had with the late great Mickey Mantle, five people I used to work with at the Star-Telegram, a guy who runs the only midnight 25k and 50k race in Texas, my brother's wife, and a few other blogging friends and anonymous posters.

Before 2:30, 5ksandcabernets had 1,000 pageviews.

It was fun watching my pageviews go from 200 to 300 to 400 and beyond. During the 2:00 hour, according to my google analytics tracking code, pageviews for the day had reached 1,000. By the end of the day, 5ksandcabernets had drawn 1,097 visitors and 1,312 pageviews.

One of my former Star-Telegram friends said I'm "just like Rebecca Black." I don't think so, though I now what they mean when they say "you've gone viral."

By Wednesday, traffic had gone down to less than 200 pageviews. Obviously, there were a lot more important things for the twitter-verse to talk about, i.e., Perry's use of the rainy-day fund, more developments on the earthquake in Japan, etc. And as I wrote this post today (Thursday), my pageview count for the day was down to 25 - much more normal figures.

The Fort Worth Weekly made fun of my old paper.
I can't imagine the stars in the social media universe lining up just so anytime soon. But the run was fun.
Even D-Magazine (2nd item) ran the post

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Governor Rick Perry, the rehab table, and me

The governor likes Brooks Launch.
As I was sitting on the rehab table preparing to get treatment for my pelvis/back issues, I spotted a familiar-looking person coming to take the table next to me.

He wore a baseball cap, gray shirts and gray shorts with black socks and a pair of Brooks Launch tennis shoes. (Only runners wear those shoes, I thought to myself).

Then the light bulb went off.

The Texas governor? Can't be. His hair was too messed up - way way way messed up - and he'd not shaved. This did not look like the slick-looking guy I've seen on TV.

And then, one of the attendants reached out to shake his hand.

"Hi, Governor," she said.

"How are you," Rick Perry replied.

"Oh, shit, I was just about to say 'You look like the governor,'|" I said in Perry's direction. (Yes, I cursed.) "What's your condition."

"I've got a pain in the butt," he laughed. "Seriously - I've got some back pain."

Perry laid down on the table as one of the attendants began work on him. He asked my name and what I was in for. I could see him kind of cringe when I said, "pelvis fracture." Then he asked me where I was from and what I did for a living. Knowing I was going to blog about this meeting, I figured it was time for full-disclosure: from my time as a Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter, I knew people who knew him. (I'd actually met Gov. Rick Perry once before. In 2003, when I was a metro reporter, the Star-Telegram sent me and a few other reporters to East Texas to cover the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. Perry had come down and, among other things, thanked the locals and Red Cross for helping in the cleanup.)

I'm not sure why I thought it was important for Perry to know that I was once a newspaper reporter, though I guess once a journalist, always a journalist. And of one of the no-nos of journalism is not revealing your identity to the person you are interviewing.

Anyway, the conversation continued. He asked how many marathons I'd run (8) and he replied, "one for me was enough for me." (I didnt know if he meant he'd run one marathon or one half marathon.) We talked about South by Southwest and what's wrong with the newspaper business. He said he wished newspapers would not allow anonymous comments at the end of online stories, and he said places like where I currently work ( have seemingly figured out how to make money on the internet these days.

Soon, we were both summoned to the traction tables. The attendants strapped us both in (on separate tables of course) and we continued our conversation, both of us on our stomachs staring face down talking through a donut hole.

We talked more about running - he said he really liked running in his Brooks Launch and was glad they changed the colors from orange; he said his back problems stem from a spinal condition he has had since he was a kid; and we talked about social media. And of course, Perry has been in the news lately for blocking six Texas journalists from following his posts at

I asked Perry if he'd received much criticism for blocking his twitter feed.

"Oh, I was just giving those guys a hard time," Perry laughed. "You know, the First Amendment cuts both ways."

And with that, Perry's time on the traction table was up. I told him he had a hard job and I didn't envy his position. He tapped me on the leg and said he'd had a nice visit.

I'll admit, I've not always agreed with Governor Perry's politics, but Rick Perry is a nice, personable guy.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

What a stress fracture in my pelvis looks like: it's kind of graphic.

The docs actually thought there was something wrong with my hips and so they only took pictures of, you guessed it, my hips. When I took the MRI film to get a second opinion, the doc there saw the stress fracture in my pelvis, which I've said will force me to stop running for three to four months.

Here is the pic:

Straight from the MRI: The red arrow is pointing at the place where I have a pelvis stress fracture. See how the bone, which runs diagonally from left to right, is discolored? Sorry about the graphic nature of this picture. TSA Agents see stuff like this all the time, I'm sure.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Second opinion on MRI reveals stress fracture in my pelvis, not my hip. No running for 3 to 4 months.

The headline says it all, right?

Last week, I got an MRI and my physical therapist told me it was a stress reaction in my hip and said no running for a month.

Today (Wednesday the 9th), I got a second opinion from my new primary care physician, Dr. Mark Hutchens of Texas Sports & Family - this is a guy who deals mainly with athletes. He asked me some questions, poked around some in my groin area and said, matter of factly, "what you have is a stress fracture in your pelvis."

Me: "Are you sure? How do you know? How much time will I have to miss?" (What a dumb question to ask a doctor, right? What do I mean, 'Are you sure?' I guess that's like asking a cook if he is sure that mayonnaise has egg in it.)

Doc: "I'd say you need complete rest for at least 3 to 4 months, though I've seen some stress fractures like the one you have take much longer. Here I can show you the MRI."

(No more running? I love running, and I really  love running in Austin. You might as well tell me to stop breathing. But I digress.)

The doc pops my MRI on the computer screen and shows me the area of concern. He started talking about swollen bone marrow and all kinds of gobbedly-gook. I'm looking at the film and its clear as day: Yep, its my pelvis, not my hip. Yep, there is some discoloration at the place of the stress fracture.

I told the doc that I've had this weird sensation/pain in my groin since, umm, 2008 - three years! - where it hurts to squeeze my legs together, hurts to do situps or any kind of ab work, hurts to roll over in bed, hurts to play with my son while on my knees. I told him about the cramps I get in my inner quads on any run longer than 2 hours (like marathons!). I told him that when I walk up slight inclines, I really have to think about lifting my left leg to help me power up hills.

(Since 2008, I've run six marathons. And none have gone well. If you've read my blog, you've read that I tend to start getting cramps at Mile 15 and things just get worse and worse. I don't cramp up so much in training - maybe because I don't taper and I dont give my hip/groin/pelvis enough time to get stiff like they get in the days leading up to a race.)

He said most, if not all of my problems stem from my pelvis injury. He said that probably explains why my quad muscles cramp up so much when they get tired. Then he wondered why I took so long to get this problem fixed. 

I told him I just thought I was tired and things would get better with a good taper.

"Well," he said, "I guess you'll have plenty of time to taper now."

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Monday, March 7, 2011

Hip checked! Stress reaction shelves my running plans for about a month

Picture of my hip as doc administers  iodine.
Maybe I'm not crazy.

The disaster in Chicago. Running a minute slower than normal on a Thanksgiving 5k. A subpar half-marathon finish at the 3M Half Marathon. Then another marathon disaster, this time at the Austin Marathon.

During each of the above-mentioned runs - and sometimes during the training leading up to the race, something odd would happen and I wouldnt feel myself.  Not real pain, per se. Just some weakness in my left leg, like I couldnt push off, couldnt power through things.

I just figured things would get better after a good taper, or with better weather.

Six days after running Austin, I went out for a 10.5-mile run. At about the 8-mile mark, I stop for water. When I tried to start running again, it was like someone had poured some poison or a vat of acid in my legs, especially my left one. My hips felt so stiff. I was averaging about a 7:30 min/mile before the water stop at Mile 8, and I was lucky to run 9:00 min/mile the last two miles. The weakness was the same that I'd felt at the Austin and Chicago marathons, the weakness I would feel before the cramps would start.

I set up an MRI for my hip, which was last Thursday. I'm a little claustrophobic, so laying in that tube with those weird noises going off was way worse than any needle I saw that day.

But things would only get worse. My physical therapist was given the results of my MRI on my back and hip and emailed them to me Friday. Here is part of that email:

"You have a disc herniation L4-5, L2-3 subtle disc bulge but no herniation.  No labrum[sic] tear in the hip, but noted stress reactive change.  Beginning phase of a stress fracture.  So, no running."

 What? What? I called my physical therapist and asked what this meant. Stress reaction? Herniated disc? Subltle bulging disc?

"Yep," she said. "You need to take off from running for 4 to 6 weeks."

On the one hand, I am not too happy about not running. Especially not running for at least a month. But on the other hand, at least I can now begin to understand why some of my races suck so bad. I don't like to make excuses, but I knew something was wrong with me. How else to explain 13-, 14-, and 15-minute miles at the end of the Austin and Chicago marathons? Marathons where cramping begin at Mile 15. Mile 15!

How else to explain a 20-minute 5K on Thanksgiving when a year earlier, I'd run a 19:08 5K on a much hillier course?

The thing is, I couldn't explain it. But a hip/back issue kinda makes sense. And I now remember when I probably hurt myself. Last June, I twisted my left knee running in a new pair of shoes (that I don't wear anymore). Instead of resting, I limped my way through some of the most painful runs I've ever had, putting a lot of pressure on other parts of my body - and apparently my hip took more of the pounding that it should have.Since then, I've also had this weird groin pain, where it hurts to squeeze my legs together or roll over in bed sometimes.  Stretching after a long or hard run also induces cramps in my inner thighs.

That's the only thing I can think of. In short races, I've lacked explosion, and in long races, I use other parts of my leg to overcompensate for my weakened hip and by Mile 15, both of my legs are cramping.

Again, I didn't feel pain during races and training runs, just an inordinate amount of stiffness - and lots of pain afterward. My back? That was a surprise, though from time to time, it gets achy and stiff, but again, I just figured that malady would go away with a good taper. (This still doesnt explain how I can run decent in training, but my marathons are just terrible. But maybe when you add the stress of a race to stressful joints, you get what I've got in marathons.)

I'm still going to get a second opinion to nail things down - but for now, no running. Its the first significant time I'll go without running in three years. I'll miss the Cap 10K coming up a the end of the month, but hopefully, I get myself healed.

Guess I've got more time to work on the cabernets part of 5ksandcabernets!

Update...3:34 p.m. Monday...

I've scheduled a second opinion for my back and hip for Wednesday. Maybe they will just tell me to sit out two or three weeks, or run only two or three times a week instead of everyday. Fingers crossed!


Update: A second opinion on the MRI revealed a stress fracture in my pelvis. Ouch!


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Life's answers aren't always detailed in the instructions

Noah was sick for much of last week, basically throwing up everything he tried to consume. Some kind of virus going around Austin attacking small children.

Still, by Saturday, Noah was feeling much better and just in time for me to pick him up from his mother. I was just going to have him for a few hours before returning him back to his mom in time for lunch.

Before we took off, here was the conversation I had with Noah's mom:

Noah's mom: "Now don't feed him anything at your apartment because I want to monitor what he eats and dont want him to get sick."

Me: "OK."

Well, a few hours into hanging out, Noah and I are at my apartment and he says, "Daddy, I'm really hungry. Do you have anything for me?"

Well, shit, I'm not gonna starve my kid. So I give him a few crackers and then call his mother and tell her. She's fine with that. But a few minutes later, Noah says, "do you have any turkey for me because these crackers aren't helping my hunger."

Well, of course I had some turkey. Now, I know his mom didnt want me to feed Noah because she worried that the Noah wasnt healthy enough to eat solids. But, hey, when your kid is begging you for food, his stomach must be ok. So I gave him two or three slices of turkey. He devoured the turkey. He didnt get sick.

Great, I thought.

Until I took him to his mother's house. She admonished me for giving him turkey and then speculated that the turkey couldnt have been fresh because itd been in my fridge for about a week (Hey, the expiration date was March 12, and I had tasted the turkey and it seemed fine to me.)

Anyway, like I said, Noah's mom. WAS. NOT. HAPPY. The doctor had told her to start off with clear liquids, then clear foods, then work Noah back up to meats. SLOWLY.

My thought: The right answers aren't always on the back of a medicine box or in a doctors notes.

When your kid is hungry, feed him.

Ok. That is all.

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