Sunday, December 25, 2005

2005 Farewell Run?

I'm in my last week of no-running, and I've yet to have my heart attack platter with cheese and ranch dressing (see post below), but this forecast poses a dilemma. It's perfect running weather for me, and anything in the 60's is ideal in my book. I may have to toss in a farewell to 2005 run before my restart in 2006 new year's run!

Sunday, December 18, 2005


Along with my December hiatus from running, I've allowed myself some forbidden fruit from the first 11 months of the year. This is what I've mustered so far: a Mojo Pie (coffee ice cream) from Cold Stone, Kit Kat, assorted holiday cookies and fudge, and still to come - cheddar fries from Snuffers - a Dallas tradition of excess rumored to weigh in at about 3000 calories! Is that even possible? Fries, covered with cheddar, baked and melted to perfection, topped with bacon bits, chives, jalepenos, and ranch dressing. Once a year, I've never had anything that's come close to tasting this good!

In theory, I get it all in my system now, without feeling the least bit guilty, and without having to "run it off" right away. But run it off I will ... starting Jan 1, 2006.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Simple Life

Came across this article from Numetrex and this is apparently their first product - sports bra with built in HRM. I'll be inquiring about a job as head of QA testing shortly :) I've never used a HRM and am still holding out for one that doesn't require extra straps ... in the meantime, I'll be old school and just run on blindly not knowing if I'm in the 'zone'.

No new running news to report as I'm still on my December running sabbatical. But I did get hit by Anne with this:

Write 5 random facts about yourself, and then list the names of 5 people whom you in turn infect. Also, leave a post to these people letting them know they have been infected.

So here goes:

1. I'm surrounded by S-women and I LOVE IT!! Wife and best friend Sandy, my girls Samantha (9), Stephanie (9) and Sydney (4), my first Dalmatian Shari (13), and ok, my odd ball second Dalmatian Crazy Daisy (11). Lots of hormones flying around back at the ranch, baby!

2. I'm not a native Texan but I went to school at Texas (where I met Sandy) and I'm a BIG Texas Longhorns fan. I don't hate Aggies anymore and Sooners don't bug me either. I must be mellowing out.

3. I discarded my lead foot after switching from a convertible to my Volvo, which happened about the same time we started our family. Man, am I mellowing out?

4. Up until about 4 years ago, I never touched the stuff. Now I could eat sushi everyday.

5. While out running one day, I ran into Neon Deion Sanders coming the other way. Immediately felt inadequate w/o my blue velour tracksuit and massive gold medallion. He flashed a big smile (dude's got really white teeth) and we exhanged "hi's". My biggest regret is not turning around, kicking in the after-burners, and showing him what real closing speed is! Deion - you got off easy that day!

So, Bex, Elizabeth, Yvonne, Rae, and my favorite German Jack, you're on!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Enjoying Time Off From Running ... I Think

It's almost December and my self-assigned month-long vacation from running. I may have given myself a head start this week though. I've been out of town in Tampa again since Sunday night, and it's been a bit busy at work. Still, 3 consecutive 6:00 am wakeup calls have not resulted in any runs yet, but I'm definitely going to give it another fair shot tomorrow morning!

In the meantime, I haven't felt terribly guilty about not running, but I have sort of missed it. I've also missed not having much to write about! Plus I'd hate to think I packed all my running stuff and will fly home tomorrow night w/o using any of it. Maybe something good will happen tomorrow morning!

Hey, has anyone read this post from Donald about next year's Mardi Gras marathon (and half marathon) on Feb 5th? I know I've already passed on Austin, which is on Feb 19th, but the first major run after Katrina does sound like it will have some historical significance and could be an interesting event for those running it. Apart from the usual charity donations, I personally haven't done much else, and this might be one small opportunity for a "show of support". Practically speaking, I don't know how much of an impact this can have, but perhaps every little bit helps? Anyone else considering this run, or already signed up?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Where The Young Are Young and the Old Even Look Young

I really have to find a way to live in Austin. I drove down for a quick trip yesterday, and managed to get in a run at Town Lake before driving back. It's a great place to run, mostly sand and gravel, on the banks of Town Lake which is really a river flowing through downtown Austin. It's full of energetic young people running, which at my age is beginning to exceed 50% of anyone out there with a heartbeat. Boo. Even so, I could flat outrun some of the young'uns (still recovering from the weekend perhaps?), but there were of course many more that left me in the dust. Young, old, fast, or slow, most everyone out there looked to be in great shape, and you could see it in their faces. I guess the setting brought out Austin's finest and fittest!

I ran for 1:03, I'm guessing 7.5-ish miles. At the end of the run, it was already dark at 6:00 pm, and a little chilly in shorts and short sleeves at 57F. I can imagine Florida David's reaction to this (freezing!) and Minnesota Zeke's (burning up!).

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Austin Will Have To Wait

I've decided to take a rain check on Austin. Good luck to Susan, Flatman (I think), and others who are already gunning for it! I'm too into the cruisin' mode to get up for it, but that doesn't mean I'm not running anymore. This past weekend, I did 11.5 from our house in Plano to the in-laws place in North Dallas. We've driven this a million times as we usually go over on Sundays for lunch or to visit for a while. It's the first time I've run this route, and probably the furthest I've ever run for no apparent reason! But I'd guess you runners out there know why ... we run it because it's there and so what if it's a little long and a little painful; we run it because we can!

It was beautiful late fall Texas day, but still in the low 70's at high noon. I had a slow easy run, finishing in just under 2 hours. S. and kids met me half way on their way over, and served as my own personal water station! They honked as they passed by on the other side of the street, and I pulled in a neighborhood playground just up ahead to wait for them to turn around and come back. I also took in the one GU I carried while waiting for them. When that was done, they still didn't show and I was beginning to wonder if we had mis-arranged the pit-stop. Earlier at home, I dropped off a half-bottle of water in the 'ol family van and mentioned that 11:00 would be perfect and half way into my run ... so why did they drive off? For a few more minutes, I waited and stewed (will the GU work w/o chasing it down with water? or will it suck my throat dry?! is my tongue already stuck to the roof of my mouth?! can I make it another 6 miles w/o dying of thirst?). Finally, I decided to carry on, since I couldn't well just stand there forever!

Lo and behold, about 0.5 mile further and around a curve, there they were waiting for me! S. bless her heart said she was 10 mins early and didn't want to mess up my timing. Well, let's see here ... 10 mins, 0.5 miles ... 20 min miles?! Oh hell, I was happy to see them! My three girls (9 & 9 twins, and 4) were jumping up and down as I approached, like I was some Speedy Gonzalez or something. One of them held out my water bottle, and I picked up the pace and ran by at full speed to snatch it out of her hand while they all started to give chase! It must've been a crazy sight for anyone happening to drive by. Ah, the little things in life ...

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Crusin' or a Brusin'

You've got to know when to hold 'em
Know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away
Know when to run ...

OK, so the song doesn't fit the title, but I like the last line anyway! I ran The Half in Dallas today. It's the 2nd time I've run it, and my 3rd half-marathon overall. It was a good run for me because I broke 2:00 hours and PR'd in 1:56:52! I'm really happy with this, considering that a year ago I had never run anything longer than a 10K, and I didn't really plan on running this until last month.

Also, a couple of weekends ago, I PR'd in a 5K at 24:34, after a long string of high 25:xx and mostly 26:xx runs the last few years. I really haven't been training all that much lately, and I think this is all the residual effect of my one and only marathon this past summer. But I'm happy to take it nonetheless!

So this leads me to my next move, which is ... I don't have one. My options are:

(1) Cruisin' into the end of the year with just some Turkey Trot Jingle Bell fun runs, and otherwise taking December off like I usually do to "rest" and "recharge" (but hopefully not "refuel" too much!)

(2) Brusin' to see if I can break 4:00 in a full marathon. I peeked over at the Austin marathon site, since it's an early February run, it's sort of close to Dallas, and it's one my favorite cities. I went to grad school there and lived there a couple of years after. The course winds through campus, which I think will be cool. But the thought of training for another marathon, and over the winter months outside ... bbrrrrrr!!

So which would you choose?

Cruise on into the new year, or pick up the pace for a brusin'?!

Friday, October 28, 2005

An Alternate Time Zone Named Susan

After two failed attempts the past two mornings, I finally made it out my front door at 6:00 am this morning. Stepping out into the dark, quiet morning, it was refreshing to breathe in the cool 50F air. The stars were brilliant, and a crescent moon cast a faint glow. The setting was perfect in almost every way.

As I ran, I thought about how great this feeling is, but also how hard it is for me to get up early enough to do this. I'm amazed at everyone else's stories about pre-dawn runs, and lately I'm reading about Susan's
5AM runs, and then her 4AM runs! What's next - 3AM sleep-running runs?! 2AM runners anonymous meetings? 1 AM last call runs?

I'm convinced Susan and some of you are in an alternate (twilight?) time zone that I'll never achieve. I'll call it SST (Susan Standard Time). No matter where you are, if you're on SST, you're 2 hours ahead of everyone else!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Got Caesium-133?

It's used to calculate and calibrate the official precise time duration of one "second", but who needs Caesium-133 when you can just run?

I've run 3 times this week, best guess 6 miles each time, 2 different routes around the neighborhood, and the 3rd route a brand new one in a completely new direction that I've never done before. There's almost absolutely nothing similar in these routes: different time of day, different number of intersections, traffic, waiting at stop lights etc. Each time when I got home, here's my time:

Monday 54:37
Tuesday 54:35
Thursday 54:34

Weird or what?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Release The Beast

No, there's no running beast within me waiting to get out, although I might need to create one if I'm going to get a move on with my half marathon training. I ran this last year as my first half, and trained religiously for it with a 8-week plan pulled down from Runners World, but this year's preparation has been nonchalant at best. I've got 2 weekends left to train for this.

Last weekend, I went out planning to do 12 miles around the neighborhood. Even had the water and GU laid out and waiting in my strategic hiding spot! But the run just didn't feel right, and I turned it in after 4 miles or so. I'm thinking it's my shoes, reaching semi-retirement age and time to find a new primary pair.

So today I bought a new pair of shoes, not my 4th (and only type of running shoe I've ever worn) Brooks
Beast, but my 1st Brooks Addiction 6. Still a motion control shoe, but cheaper ($90 vs $110) and lighter (12.5 ozs vs. 14.5 ozs). Ran 6 miles this evening and it worked just fine. The Beast has worked great for me and I've never had any foot problems, but I thought it might be time to bust out for a change. Look out - I'm living dangerously, tempting fate, and running on the edge now!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

My Kinda Long Run

Even though I didn't run today, this long run made my day, as my Texas Longhorns finally beat ou after a 5 year drought. Freshman Jamaal Charles went 80 yards on a 1-play drive for a TD. Whoa Nellie! Shades of Earl, Ricky, Priest, 'n Cedric ... we got us a fine lookin' runner!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

A Perfect Rainy Day

The last time I had fun in the rain, really all-out soaking-wet uninhibited fun, I was 10 years old. We lived in a bungalow in Singapore, which is a fancy word for "house". I was in 4th grade then, but already almost too old to do silly stuff like go outside in the rain and get soaked, intentionally. Even stranger, I remember convincing my brother, 4 years older than I, to join me. It might well have been the last time we played together as brothers, before it became a no-no for a couple of boys trying to act "cool".

Funny how I still remember the day well, more than 30 years ago. It was a heavy rain, but normal for the tropics. The rain gutters under the roofline would break off at the corners, and dump the water onto the driveway below. We'd wrestle to pin each other below these downspouts, where the water came down hard enough to hurt the top of your head. When that was done, we'd make paper boats and race them in the small drain that circled the house before it emptied into the storm drain outside. It was, a perfect rainy day.

Now the last time I had fun in the rain, really all-out soaking-wet uninhibited fun, was an hour and a half ago! Yesterday, I wrote about the run I planned to do today, and I did just that and more. Started out this evening here in Ybor City, past the Florida Aquarium and Channelside Harbor, past a bunch of bars where people were getting loaded up with food and drink, past the St. Pete Times Forum where other people were streaming in for the 2004 Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning season home opener against the Carolina Hurricanes. I always enjoy running in this kind of crowd, because it makes you pick up your step and try not to look too much like the slacker runner I probably am! Plus with everyone else walking and only you running, it makes you feel totally fast! Anyway, I made it out onto Bayshore Boulevard and all the way, as hoped, to Hyde Park. Only thing is, it wasn't as far as I thought, maybe 3.5 - 4 miles.

On the way back, the storm rolled in. A few sprinkles to start for about 10 mins, and then it really came pouring down! It was a firm rain that came straight down like a full shower, no wind, slightly cool. What little sunset was left quickly disappeared and night rolled in. I ran by a long line of cars that had slowed to a crawl trying to get to the game, and thoroughly enjoyed myself thinking how for once I was really glad to be outside and wet instead of inside and dry like them! I was running shirtless in the rain, by the light of the street lamps and car headlights, and I felt completely free.

As I approached the Forum, there was a few brave souls trying their luck under umbrellas, but most people were waiting it out in storefronts and huddled together in whatever shelter they could find. And here came I, running down the wide open sidewalk, oblivious to the rain, and soaked to the skin. While everyone else was trying to stay dry, I was running away from trees and shelter, not trying very hard at all to avoid puddles that sometimes came up over my ankles, and occasionally doing my best Vanderlei Lima airplane impersonation running with arms outstretched to get as much rain contact as possible! I can't imagine how many people were thinking "this guy's nuts!"

When I made it back to Ybor City, I was a little short of my 9-mile target, and still having a good time, so for good measure I took one last lap down the main drag and back. This street is lined with bars, restaurants, tattoo parlors, clubs, cigar houses, pool halls ... generally a good time place. Most people were inside, but a fair number of proprietors, employees, and customers were standing around outside watching the rain, and nothing else because nothing else was happening - until I rolled along that is. I got more than a few good laughs and cheers from them as I ran by, and it was the least painful and most enjoyable last mile I ever ran. I felt 10 years young again.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Almost Half Time

Half time is creeping up on me. I've been in a bit of a slump since my first marathon this past summer, but I've always kept one eye out on The Half as the last opportunity to turn this ship around before I fall into a perpetual slumber. I've run only two 5Ks in the meantime, and while they were both relatively decent for me, I could have done better if I was actually running more than once a week.

I did 6 yesterday while out of town in Tampa, FL. I'm still here in Ybor City, where I put in some miles while training for the marathon earlier this year. It's nice to retrace some of my old steps here, knowing those miles paid off in the end. I'm going to shoot for a longer run tomorrow, maybe 9 or more if I can handle it. There's a route I take from Ybor City into downtown Tampa, out the other side and onto Bayshore Boulevard which hugs Tampa Bay. Along the way, I go from turn-of-the-(previous)-century Latin Quarter with quaint cobblestone streets and old cigar factories, to concrete jungle office skyscrapers and cookie-cutter municipal buildings, to an actually pretty decent boulevard with a wide running and biking path on the water side and grand old homes on the land side overlooking the water of course. If I can push it tomorrow, I'll try to reach historic Hyde Park before turning around and coming back.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Sliding Into San Diego

I heard from an old friend this week. Remember the movie Sliding Doors with Gywneth Paltrow? One extra step, one more minute, one more phone call, and your life could take a memorable turn ...

I started running in 2002. In 2003 I was doing 5Ks. Then I got "workforce reduced" from my dot-bomb job. A local firm found me off dice and offered me a consulting gig at Yum! Brands. I flew up to Louisville, headquarters for Colonel Sanders, to meet my client. In his office, this was his screen saver.

I distinctly remember that this was when the seed was first planted, that maybe, just maybe there's an outside chance a marathon could creep into the realm of remote possibilities for me. It didn't grow much at first, but it just sat there and annoyed me for months, 5K after 5K, a constant self-imposed reminder to sh*t or get off the pot. Finally in 2004, almost a year later, I started training for a half, which pushed me beyond my 6 mile limit at the time. I ran The Half in Dallas, and when that was done, I signed up for San Diego.

On June 5, 2005, the journey that started on a desktop image in Louisville finally ended on the asphalt at Balboa Park, as I waited in the pre-dawn darkness on a cool, crisp southern California morning. I thought of all the people I knew, but now knew differently, for they had all gutted out this experience, each in their own way - MS at the Flying Pig, JM at Disney, RM at Marine Corps, TP at Little Rock, JC at NYC, and LB at White Rock. I wondered what their journeys had been like, how they endured their long runs in training, how they ran while others slept, how they rested while other played. In due course I would start the last leg of my adventure, and a starting line picture to call my own, complete with runnin' Elvis-es. If you look closely beneath the balloons, I'm pretty sure I'm in there somewhere. Thanks again MS, for the Flying Pig that started it all.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Objects In Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear

Back when I was a graduate student in EE, I think I could have made sense of this explanation, but now it just looks like, well, like one of my favorite quotes from Rocky III:

Interviewer: What's your prediction for the fight?
Clubber Lang: My prediction?
Interviewer: Yes, your prediction.
Clubber Lang: (short pause, stare into camera for effect, use low guttural voice) ... Pain!

Anyway, since I started running, I've adopted a whole different perspective of time and distance, mostly distance. Things that seemed to look far away are not as far anymore, even though they probably still are (everything's relative of course).

Especially when I travel, I'm amazed to look out my hotel window after coming back from a run, to see how far I've made it on foot and back, something I could never have dreamed of doing before.

I dug up this old vacation picture from a couple of summers ago in Nassau. It's taken from our hotel window at the British Colonial Hilton looking east down Bay Street, the main shopping drag. The glitzy Atlantis Hotel and Casino on Paradise Island is marked, and that's a 24 story building!

The thing is, maybe I'm just bad with judging distances, but I could never have told you how far away that building is. Hell, even now I probably can't do it, except that I ran there and back. Ran down Bay Street, past the Straw Market, past the duty free shops, past mostly abandoned lots and light industrial factories further out, slight curve to the right, then hop onto the bridge you can just make out in the picture, feel like a million bucks at the top of the bridge, soak in the sunshine and stiff island breeze, cross the harbor onto Paradise Island, gawk at luxury yachts tied up at dock, and uphill a couple hundred feet into the main lobby of the Atlantis Hotel. Even now I can play out the run in my mind. Total distance: less than 5 miles round trip, and worth every step.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Run Lola Run

Every once in a while the discussion comes up again about favorite running movies. The usual suspects surface, like Rocky (duh! ... well, ok, it deserves it's #1 ranking), Chariots of Fire, etc. along with some dark horses like Last of the Mohicans and Vision Quest.

My darkest of dark horses entry is Run Lola Run. It's German and stars Franka Potente in the lead role. She also played Maria in The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy. This is my top recommendation to anyone who's into foreign flicks. If you can survive the first 10 minutes, you'll won't be able to leave until the movie ends, so buckle up and settle down for the long haul. Not sure how inspiring this movie will be, but it's guaranteed - guaranteed! - to get the pulse rate up.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Not Just The Facts Ma'am

3 might be too early a trend, but the first 3 running blogs I've decided to link to on my blog are all by women. These are the ones that I personally want to read again and again. Why no guys? Because the ones I've read are B-O-R-I-N-G (even to runners IMHO) - facts, facts, and more facts. Day 1 time 1 distance 1 temp 1; day 2 time 2 distance 2 splits 2; day 3 time 3 hills 3. Zzzzzzz.

Not to say some blogs by women are just as boring, but the good ones I've found by Allison, Chelle, and Yvonne are bursting with life. They talk about what they see, hear, smell, feel, and yes sometimes even taste (!) before, during, and after running; not just the miles of concrete covered or the ticks elapsed. In their blogs I see joy, concern, apprehension, disappointment, determination, rejuvenation, surprise, arrogance (only towards cyclists!), guts, pride, humor, agony, indecision, consternation, tenacity, embarrassment, decisiveness, confidence, and on and on. It makes me want to open up my mind and senses when I go out for my run. Thanks guys ... oops, girls, gals, women, you know what I mean!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Oh The Other Places You'll Go

Well, Hilton only shows you your last 12 months of stays, so I have to compile my 2002-2004-ish list from memory after all. More cities I have run in:
  • New York, NY
  • Chicago, IL
  • San Jose, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Austin, TX
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Nassau, Bahamas
  • Los Cabos, Mexico
  • Louisville, KY
  • Washington D.C.
  • Orlando, FL

This is a shorter list than I thought. There's more places pre-2002 that I now wish I had run in, but too late for that. Memorable runs and routes to follow later ...

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Brush With Glory

I read this last Friday and ran the Freedom Run 5k on Saturday. Half way into the race, this guy and his flag comes up behind me. As he passes, I call out "Way to go Aaron!" - don't know how I remembered his name, but I did.

He turned to look, smiled, and said "Thanks". Short pause. "How did you know my name?". I replied "You're famous" and left it at that. He pulled away, feeling even better about what he was doing, I hope. I applaud his efforts. He should be famous. Hell, he's on this blog, isn't he?

So, RU a serious runner?

I've always answered "no" to this question, even though I personally feel like I take my running pretty seriously. I'm not fast and I've never competed and won anything, but I've finished a whole bunch of races, mostly 2nd quartile stuff, ahead of middle-of-the-pack. Boston certainly looks like a remote scenario, if I had to qualify to get in (how in the world do you trim 65 mins off over 26 miles?).

So why do I still feel like I'm a serious runner inside? Mainly because I run something, pretty much every week. Except for Decembers. With holidays and the weather, I gave up trying to stay on record and just decided to take the whole month off. Other than one or two bouts of the flu, I've run every week since I started in the summer of 2002, at least once in order to count, on average 3 times/week.

Looking at some running blogs out there (start with
Alison's and follow the links), there's some serious miles being logged. More power to them. This blog will undoubtedly be different. Just like my races, it'll be a little slower, a few notches below the first wave of runners. Respectable I hope, but nothing to call home about. BTW - for some perspectives from a broader range of runners, try the Runner's World Forum - something for everyone there.

Move it, move it, move it ...

I don't think this should be a log of every single run I make. But it did compel me to go out this morning, after I missed yesterday's run. I have an Oktoberfest 5K run this Sat., and I really should get in a couple runs this week. 4 mile minimum is what I did, just to keep the parts working.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Oh The Places You'll Go

One of the things I've always wanted to do is record all the places I've run. I travel quite a bit for work, and I try to get out and run in every city I visit. So far this year, not counting hometown Dallas, I've run in:
  • Bridgewater, NJ
  • Downers Grove, IL
  • Ybor City, FL
  • San Diego, CA
  • Kona, HI
  • Honolulu, HI
  • Sioux Falls, SD
  • Jacksonville, FL

I re-created this list not from memory, but from my stay history at Hilton. Sad but true. It's a great hotel chain though. More later about some good running routes in these cities.

Why I'm Here

I've never had a blog, until now. Then again, I've never been a runner, until 2002. This month's Runner's World magazine has an article encouraging people to start a running blog. They mentioned one by by Alison Wade. It looked pretty interesting ... I figured I'll try this out and see what happens.