Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to one and all!

We added to our favorite ornaments today ...

... with this gem from my Stephanie!

Monday, December 18, 2006


OK, since it's the festive season, who am I to say no, know what I mean Bex, Jack, I Am Susan, and GandaMan?

1. Egg nog or hot chocolate? Crown or Captain Morgan (tie)

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? No wrapping. All Santa's stuff fits in the stockings, usually overflowing though.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? White lights inside. White and red outside. If I could find Burnt Orange lights, they'd be up everywhere. Yo Santa, ru listening?

4. Do you hang mistletoe? Huh? Do they sell that at Target?

5. When do you put your decorations up? Thanksgiving weekend, but this year we (ok, I) kind of let it get away from me. We've got a lot up, but nowhere close to what we normally do.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Dare I say ... the spousal unit?

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child? Our silver glitter Christmas tree. It made a comeback a few years ago and I should've got one. Now I don't see them anymore again.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? Beats me. I really can't remember!

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Gasp! Never! Until we got married and I inherited 150 close relatives who all open presents on Christmas eve. We still do our own family presents on Christmas morning, the way it SHOULD BE! :)

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? Mostly with angels (for the girls in my family), Santas, clowns, and snowmen.

11. Snow! Love it or dread it? Dread it. Snow means ice here in Dallas.

12. Can you ice skate? I'm sure I can, but I've NEVER tried it. Can you believe that?

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? Everything from S. (can you tell I'm in the doghouse and trying to work my way out before Christmas ...)

14. What's the most important thing about the holidays for you? Family. Well, religion too. OK, this question is tougher that it appears. Religion is a personal thing. Family is a family thing. And that's just it.

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? Anything that ends in "cake" or "pie"

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Staying out of trouble due to Question 1. See also response to Question 13.

17. What tops your tree? A gigantic star

18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving? Giving, to little kids and big kids alike.

19. What is your favorite Christmas song? Jingle Bells Boogie by the Jingle Dogs

20. Candy canes? Pass

21. Favorite Christmas movie? A Charlie Brown Christmas

22. What do you leave for Santa? Cookies, milk, and a reminder about my impossible BQ time. Yo Santa, you still listening?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Extra Baggage

For once, I lugged my running gear out-of-town, but didn’t run. I wasn’t in NYC long enough yesterday anyway, and besides, it was raining. I remember thinking about Yvonne while crossing over the Queensborough Bridge into town, and how this was her backyard, her bridge, and how she OWNS it.

One day, I’d like to run that bridge. NYC marathon ’07 perhaps?

I thought of running this morning in DC, but I was up till 1:30 AM doing work stuff. Ugh. If anything, I wanted to visit the scene of my disaster, the Key Bridge. Enough endorphins remain from White Rock to make me believe I can get up and over that bridge now. Fast.

One day, I’d like to OWN that bridge too.

BTW - if you're having trouble leaving comments on other blogs, this could be why: Logging in with an old Blogger account to post a comment on the new Blogger is giving a “please try again later” error. Until we fix this, it may work to log in first at, and then go to the comments page on the new version of Blogger in beta. — latest update on Thursday, December 14, 2006

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Dueling Titles:
(a) The 4:00:00 barrier no more
(b) You’ll take what the race gives you and be happy, yee-haw!!

It's 45F outside, drizzly, gray overcast, and I'm as happy as a clam!

Made it downtown by 6:40 am, and parked within spitting distance of the American Airlines Center. After pumping myself up to
Steve Ray Vaughn, I called Susan at 7:00 and she was already inside. It was really great to meet up with her finally, and she's just as nice and charming as you would imagine from her blog, despite how bad she claims to be! We took some pictures with her and my new blog pals Marathena and Massoman (Susan, send me the pics!).

At 7:30, I left to get ready for the race. I wore long running pants, short sleeved shirt, and $2 White Rock canvas gloves. When I did some warmup runs, I felt the 6 GUs in my back pocket pulling down my pants! Not a good idea. I took 2 GUs out and pinned them to the front of my pants instead.

The start wasn't crowded at all. I found the 4:00 pace team, and we introduced ourselves and chatted with the pace leader,
Catherine. Catherine was absolutely terrific! She kept us on pace, she fired up the crowds, and she would talk to the group to keep us motivated. That girl's got some lungs! She guaranteed bringing us in by 3:59:40 and change, so all we had to do was hang with her.

And hang we did. The group was about 30-40 strong in the early stages. We blew through the course and before I knew it, 6 miles was in the bag and we were still on pace. Whenever we came across a crowd of spectators, Catherine would announce "4:00 pace team coming through, make some noise people!". It felt like we were in some kind of victory parade!

Past the 7 mile marker, we started descending towards White Rock Lake, getting there around mile 9. There was no sun and no rain, in the 40's probably, not too cold, but a bit windy down by the lake. Once we got there, it was the next 10 miles going around the lake. Crowd support thinned out here, and it was starting to get a bit lonely. But there was still perhaps 20-30 people in the pace group.

We passed the half way marker at 1:58:46 and were still on pace. Catherine would call out how we were doing at each mile marker, and at some points we were up to 50 seconds in the bank. I paid little attention to where we were and what pace we were going (see my splits later, which seemed all over the map), but just focused on hanging with the group.

At mile 19, we started leaving White Rock. I knew what was coming ... the Dolly Parton hills. But I had run these in my training runs and I was ready. Catherine, who had never run White Rock before, just powered on through. I put my head down and busted through too and made it fairly easily. But we started dropping a few more people along the way.

Approaching mile 21, I looked forward to seeing my cheering section. Cousin R., who was supposed to run the last 5 with me, developed "foot pain" and had to cancel. My friend L., thought the race was yesterday, and she had to cancel too! Here I am past mile 21, looking deceivingly in good spirits, charging towards my crowd and scaring the living daylights out of them!

With a quick kiss to S., I turned the corner and caught up with the pace team again. It was all downhill from here, but trouble was just waiting to happen.

After that turn, it seemed like the pace quickened a bit. Maybe because we were going slightly downhill, or maybe it was 5 miles to go and we could smell it. There were only 10-15 of us left at this point, and Catherine was pushing us to keep it strong. Man, without her, I would've started fading. I felt a few twinges in my calves, and thought "oh no, not again, not now". I remembered what Bex had suggested, and I altered my stride to keep it at bay. It seemed to work, but I could feel it simmering and it started to concern me.

When I wasn't worried about the calves, I was worrying about the pace. It seemed brutal, and I knew if I dropped off Catherine's pace, it was all over. We didn't have that much in the bank. I wasn't going to fall behind.

The next few miles were run in agony. I pulled up side by side with Catherine, and she gave me a few words of encouragement, although I bet I looked like I was going to pass out. At this point, taking in Gatorade was an exercise unto itself and more ended up in my nose and on my shirt than anywhere else. But I drank at every station to keep the cramps away.

Around this time, Catherine was encouraging those who felt good to start taking off. Not too many takers! But past mile 23, I somehow found myself ahead of her coming out of a water stop. I kept going, but I could always hear her still behind me talking to the group.

Mile 24 came and went. Still dying out there. Legs all wobbly. Breathing hard. Trying to pump my arms. Stay ahead of Catherine. No idea where I'm going. Follow the runners ahead blindly.

Mile 25 came and went. Arghhhhhh! Pushing pushing pushing but not gaining. Turned into the final stretch and I could see the American Airlines Center again but not the finish line. FINALLY, I see the balloons and I'm almost there. I kick it up one last time, and huff it to the mats. Final time: 3:59:09.

Here's my splits:

Mile 1: 9:26
Mile 2: 9:32
Mile 3: 8:55
Mile 4:
Mile 5: 17:50 (oops)
Mile 6: 9:00
Mile 7: 8:45
Mile 8: 8:47
Mile 9: 8:44
Mile 10: 9:01
Mile 11:

Mile 12: 19:27 (oops again)
Mile 13: 8:06
Mile 14: 9:25
Mile 15: 9:24

Mile 16: 9:19
Mile 17: 9:21
Mile 18: 9:17

Mile 19: 9:13
Mile 20: 9:13
Mile 21: 9:05

Mile 22: 8:50
Mile 23: 9:01

Mile 24: 9:19
Mile 25: 7:37 (um, user error?)
Mile 26: 10:26

Mile 0.2: 1:57

At the finisher's corral, I gave Catherine a big hug and thanked her for an awesome job bringing us in. She's terrific, and I hope you all have a chance to run with her someday. Check out their schedule here. I also bumped into GandaMan at the finish, while waiting for Catherine. Check out his great result here.

Needless to say, I feel no pain (sorta) and I'm totally psyched by this result. Here's me back at mile 21 in my cousin's house, with my 3 girls and monkey in front of me, and a couple of their younger cousins down in front.

I have to thank Bex for her coaching, Catherine for her pacing, and last but not least, S. for putting up with my madness since MCM! What's next S.? ;)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Time To Go

I made it back from Oakland w/o incident yesterday (unless you count waking up at 4:30 am for my flight), worked the remainder of the afternoon, came home, had dinner, and crashed for 12 hours! How's that for making sure I get enough sleep the night before the night before the race?

As the weather forecast predicted, it's warming up nicely here in Dallas. The sun was shining brightly when I went to the Expo this morning. Unlike MCM, there were no lines. You waltz right into a giant room at the Dallas Convention Center, look up your bib number on a bulletin board, walk up to one of 30+ volunteers at the registration counter, and get your bib and chip. Total time: less than 5 mins! Unbelievable.

Half the family unit is going for dinner with the in-laws to Fogo de Chao tonight. The non-carnivores, including me, are staying home. I'll aim for another early night tonight, to make sure I don't have a repeat performance of my MCM late start!

Others, on the other hand, will be living it up slumber party style! Bex - thanks for your optimistic/aggressive prediction of my time for tomorrow - no pressure :) My prediction? I predict that Jeanne, Bex, and Susie will pass out tonight from an excess of eggnog and baked cheetos, David will have to rouse them up and herd them to the Blue Gray starting line, and then they all win their age group! Whoa! What's in that eggnog again?!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Travel Mulligans

Mulligan #1: I flew to Oakland last night. We took off from Dallas a bit late, at 8:52 PM. We arrived barely an hour later ... back in Dallas. Medical emergency. From what I overheard, an infant had stopped breathing, but was revived, and the captain decided to turn the plane around. I think she ended up ok, based on the lack of urgency of the paramedics meeting the plane. At least for once I was upgraded to first, but it didn't get me to Oakland any sooner than anyone else.

Mulligan #2: Fast forward to 1:00 AM. Made it to California. I'm driving through a residential area in Oakland, looking for my I-580 entrance. The streets are deserted. I'm stopped alone at an intersection near the crest of a hill, when I pick up a faint siren in the distance. I don't see anything behind me, nor to the left, nor to the right. In fact, there's not another car in sight, but the wailing gets louder and louder. Next thing I know, on the other side of the street, a car comes flying over the top of the hill. WHHUMP!! Goes airborne, crashes down, sparks fly, and it keeps on trucking. Right behind is a cop car. WHHUMP!! Same thing. Then they both disappear in my rear view mirror, and I'm sitting there alone again, thinking "I know Arnold's the governor, but this is f**king ridiculous!"

I couldn't make this up if I tried. I just want this to get out of the system, and for me to make it back to Dallas on Friday the plain old boring way. Two mulligans is enough.

After all that excitement last night, I spent all day in a conference room with 15 other people, from 8:00 until 5:30, with lunch brought in so we didn't even have to leave our seats! I was so ready for a run tonight. From my hotel, I ran to the Iron Horse Trail, formerly part of the Southern Pacific Railroad. It was dark, quiet, and absolutely peaceful. Ran 4 miles and it felt really good. I doubt I'll make it to the Golden Gate on this trip, but this was good enough for me.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Finals Week

It's that time again. Last week before the race. Finished my final long run of 8 miles this morning. It was 43F and brilliantly sunny, but a cold wind bit into two layers of long-sleeved clothing and I could feel it down to my bones.

Still, it was a farewell tour of the neighborhood of sorts. I'll be hanging up the shoes after my race, for my annual
December retirement from running. Two more mid-week runs of 3 and 4 miles, but I'll be in Oakland, California. I don't think that's long enough to get me to the Golden Gate Bridge, which would be cool to run across. If I get out of work early enough, maybe I'll drive there to run!

So instead of flying out to my race, this time I'll be flying in. I decided against the red-eye on Thursday night, because that really messes up your body clock. Can you tell I'm avoiding anything that could jinx me?

Flying back Friday morning, going to the Expo on Saturday morning, followed by RBF lunch with the Queen of Flower Mound and maybe a few others (GandaMan, you in?). Anyone else coming in for the race, you're welcome to join us!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

24 Hour Delay

No running today. Overnight freezing rain. Woke to a gloomy, windy, cloudy morning. Touch of sleet mid-morning. High of 31F all day.

Terrible running weather, but if you're in 5th grade, it's perfect for staying outside all afternoon freezing your buns off. That's my Samantha on the right with her 2 buddies and a stranger.

Tomorrow's high will be 49F. Perfect make-up day for a run. I'm right on track with my training mileage, and I'm not going to tempt fate at this late stage by missing out on a run.

To think just last Saturday I squeezed out one last run of the season running without a shirt. Now, 49F sounds perfectly balmy!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Hills of Buttah

Jeanne told me I'd take the hill like it was ... buttah. I don't know what that means exactly, but I like the sound of it!

So I drove out to cousin D's house this morning, which is 2 doors down from
White Rock's mile marker 21. Her husband R. is going to run the last 5 miles with me, and we both went out to take a closer look at this hill between mile 20 and 21.

We ran the marathon route backwards from 21 to 20 to about 19.5, wandering through an old Dallas neighborhood down to the edge of White Rock Lake. On the elevation chart, the hill looked like it headed straight up unrelentingly over the course of a mile. In reality, it's a series of small inclines spread out over about a mile and a half. They didn't look or feel too bad, but I'm sure the sensation will be different on race day after 19.5 miles in the bag.

We ran 3 miles out and back, and then I went out to run it again by myself for another 3 miles. Mile 4, mostly downhill, was covered in 9:27, which was over my 9:09 race pace and ticked me off a bit. On the way back, mile 6, mostly uphill, was buttah'd in 8:53. Jeanne, you're a genius!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Running The Rock

Ran my 20-miler this morning. It was my final test before committing to White Rock. Looks like I made it with all body parts still intact:

1st 6 miles: 10:08/mile
2nd 6 miles: 10:43/mile
3rd 6 miles: 10:01/mile
Last 2 miles: 8:56/mile

Total time: 3:23, ahead of my 3:33 goal time and 10:39/mile LSD goal pace.

I just registered for the race. No looking back now. 3 weeks to taper before Judgement Day ...

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Ultra Encounter

Ah, weekends, I can sleep in a little bit.

At 8:15 am, I stepped outside for my 5-mile pace run. It was crisp, cool, sunny, and just a touch windy. 42:30 later, I was back home. Ran 8:39/mile for the first 4 miles, and 7:53 for the last mile, all under my 9:09/mile goal pace (as per Coach's orders).

At 9:00 am, about 75 runners lined up across town for the start of the
Ultracentric National 24 Hour Championship. While they ran, I had a leisurely breakfast of easy over eggs, wheat toast, and OJ (passing on the box of Dunkin' Donuts illegally parked on the kitchen counter). I had heard about this race from GandaMan, and the family units surprisingly decided it wouldn't be too bad (read "boring") to see some crazy people run around in circles. Our girls had a friend over for a sleepover last night, so after her mom came to pick her up, we took off.

The race was in Grapevine, TX on the other side of DFW from us. It took at least 40 minutes to get there. They had set up a 2.4 mile loop on the shores of Lake Grapevine.

There were hardly any spectators, mostly just support crews and family members. Cars were parked and tents pitched along the course, with trunks open and tables set up and loaded with all manner of endurance drinks, gels, fruits, bandages, and assorted munchies.

Easy to miss were two giants in the ultra world, Dean Karnazes and Pam Reed, running nonchalantly among the other runners. Here's Dean getting some food and catching up with his support crew, which I think is his dad.

Me: "Way to go Dean!"
DK (fist clenched in the universal "more power" sign): Mmmpf!
Me (after taking picture): "Thank you sir!"

OK, not very imaginative, I know, but at least I got the pic. As I write this tonight, I can't believe they're still out there running.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Low Pressure: I haven't signed up yet for White Rock. Early registration goes all the way to Nov 24. For a Dec 10 race, that's pretty generous. I figure I'll see how my training goes, and if it seems on track, I'll sign up. If it's not in the cards, no problem, no pressure.

High Pressure: Found out last weekend that S.'s cousin's house is directly on the route. Family and friends are already planning a show of force. Two volunteers on tap to help run me in, one of whom is a sub-4 marathoner. Why the pressure? Because abovementioned house is at mile 21, right after this monster Mt Kilimanjaro-of-a-hill:

Maybe the desire to show up at mile 21 in one coherent piece will be enough to temper me to stay on pace in the first 21 miles. If I don't, the family units will get an up close and personal view of a body at the limits of physical exhaustion and on the verge of total collapse. That's a performance that doesn't need to be repeated!

So I'm still training. Arrived in Atlanta last night, and I'm in Alpharetta now. Ran 5 EZ outside this morning; it's a bit of a concrete jungle out there, and it was cold at 6:00 am. Got to do 8 EZ tomorrow. 20 miler LSD this Sunday, then it's taper time from here on out already!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


In my continuing adventure to the world's most exotic locales, I find myself in ... Cincinnati, OH :-0

Arrived late last night, and the first thing I did from my hotel room was check out the city below. From my 14th floor window, I could see the Ohio River separating us from Kentucky. Lots of bridges. Football stadium to the right, baseball stadium to the left. Lots of space down by the river. Looks like good running room.

At 06:00 this morning, I stepped out of the hotel and directly onto the corner of 6th and Race Street. Appropriate or what? It was quiet and quite deserted, but I did see two other runners. 6 EZ miles to do today. Better get started.

I ran down towards the river, barely a half mile away. The closest bridge was the Roebling Suspension Bridge, built in 1866. As I approached the bridge, there was a sign indicating the bridge would close next week for a year of repairs. As soon as stepped onto it, I couldn't shake the thought that I hoped it wasn't closing for fear of crumbling into the river below. It made me pick up the pace just a touch.

I crossed over into Kentucky, which was totally anti-climatic. I was now in Covington, KY. I made my way to the next bridge downriver (or upriver?), and crossed over the Taylor Southgate Bridge back into Cincinnati. This one was built in 1995, thankfully.

With 3 more miles to go, I ran up and down along a park laid out by the riverfront. It probably would have been picturesque if I could see it all, but all I saw was the glow from street lamps along the path I ran. Turning back up and away from the river, I ran a few more blocks around downtown to get in my 6 miles.

Tomorrow is another 5 EZ miles. I hope I can handle the excitement.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Unofficially Under Consideration

This is how my week has gone:

Monday: Still reminiscing about sub-4. What the, where was I? Oh yeah, still reminiscing about sub-4 ...

Tuesday: Staring at my whiteboard at work; map out rough timline to next marathon, but quads and ITB tell me to get real

Wednesday: Got a massage; expected miraculous instant relief, but seemed to only accomplish lightening my wallet

Thursday: Laced up and ground out 4 miles after work. Cold. Dark. Windy. Hurt so bad, no, good, hurt so good. Right.

Friday: Went to Run On and bought a Brooks cold weather running pullover and a thicker pair of gloves.

Saturday: Doing my marathon plan in reverse. 3 mile pace run. Piece 'o cake.

Sunday: 8 mile LSD run. Missed out on The Half today, which I've run the past 2 years, but this felt better.

So I'm unofficially thinking about White Rock on Dec 10. I want to try for another sub-4, and this gives me a chance with only 6 more weeks training instead of starting over with 18 weeks again. A friend at work said to do the last 3 weeks of my marathon plan in reverse, and then do it forward again. Seems simple enough.

What I hope to do differently this time is 2 things:

(1) Stay with the pace team. No more banking minutes in the first half; famous last words :)

(2) Stick with straight Gu+water all the way or straight Powerade all the way.

I'd heard that Gu+Powerade leads to stomach cramps, so I've been taking water with the Gu and Powerade at all the other water stations. However, this work guy told me that once in the stomach, no matter when in got in, the Gu and Powerade "neutralized" each other and so nothing got to the muscles. Is this true?

Then the other guy at Run On who coaches marathoners for the store told me it didn't make any difference! His trick for avoiding cramps is to start salting up his food 3 days before a race. What do you think?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Elite Company

RBF Dinner: (l-r) David, me, David, Jeanne, Bex, Susie, Hallie, Peter

David and Susie

David and Jeanne

Hallie and Peter

Bex and Hallie

The &*#$^ paparazzi was everywhere!

RBF Lunch at Jaleo's: the gang with Michelle and her Dad (look at that ex-Marine stance!)

Post-race with my cousin Candace from D.C!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Dueling Titles:
(a) The elusive 4:00:00
(b) You’ll take what the race gives you and be happy, dammit!

Sunday dawned a picture perfect gorgeous sunny breezy 41F day. Then I got up. :)

Good Lord, where do I start this tale, and what do I leave out? Let’s start with timing. For someone who's normally on time, I was late to the RBF dinner on Friday, I was late to the Expo on Saturday, and was late to the race on Sunday. Trifecta! Due to user error with setting the clock back, yes, back, I was strolling out my hotel at 6:19 am when Jeanne and David called me from the starting area.

Jeanne: Rich? Uh, where are you?
Me: I’m leaving my hotel
Jeanne: It’s 7:20
Me: No it’s not, it’s 6:20
Jeanne: No, it’s 7:20
(repeat 3 times)
Jeanne: OK, let David tell you
David: It’s 7:20
Me: No it’s not, it’s 6:20
(repeat another 3 times)
Me: Oh !@%^$#(&@#!

The next hour was a blur. My start time was 8:25. I took the Metro, changing trains once. Each stop along the way was agonizingly slow, as it waited forever for more and more people to get on. By the time we pulled into Arlington Cemetery at 8:00, the train was packed. That wasn’t the problem. Every square inch of the platform was packed with people from the previous train, still waiting to go down the escalator! After much ruckus, I made it through. On the way out of the station, I inhaled my first GU.

I emerged onto a small hill overlooking the start area. As far as the eye could see below, the corrals were already full and snaking their way into the distance. The PA was counting down the minutes. My heart was about to burst. I still had to find the UPS trucks to drop off my stuff, which someone said was clear across at the back, next to the Pentagon. Argh!!! I started rushing down the side of the corrals, wondering how I was going to make it. I passed the 1000’s, then the 2000’s and on and on until mine at the 9000’s. I found a guy holding two bags, obviously someone’s support crew, and asked if he wouldn’t mind dropping mine off for me. Oo-rah. Through the kindness of strangers, I made it by the skin of my teeth.

After all that, the start was delayed about 10 mins, but what a great start it was. It’s a beautiful course, very scenic, and the crowds are truly unbelievable. The first 4 or 5 miles were a complete runners high. We left Arlington and crossed into DC, going up Rock Creek Parkway. We ran in what looked like a nature trail area, tree covered and woodsy. I was beside myself, having passed the 4:00 pace group, and never looking back. Somewhere between mile 6 and 7, I caught sight of Bex coming back the other way, about a ½ a mile ahead of me and past the turnaround. She yelled out to me and I yelled back, and that was about all we could do!

From Rock Creek, we spilled onto the Mall at the Washington Monument and Constitution Avenue somewhere around mile 9 or 10. The crowds continued to be awesome, and I high-fived my way down the mall. At one point, there were a bunch of high schoolers all dressed in orange, I must have high-fived 20 of them in a row, yelling at the top of my lungs while they all yelled back. Kids have unlimited energy. That really kept me going.

We ran down the length of the Mall, looped around the Capitol, came back down the other side, and then spilled onto the Tidal Basin around mile 14 or so. A couple more miles, and we entered dreaded Haines Point. Less crowds, more wind. Time to dig in. From mile 16 to 20, it was soul searching time, or so I thought.

I was still on pace to break 4:00, and I pushed myself to make it on pace to mile 20. I almost made it. Close to mile 20, the cramps started, slowly at first, then building. Both calves, right quad. I've never had these before, and I wasn’t sure what to do. I tried drinking everything in sight. I stopped and walked it out. I ran though it until I couldn’t keep my balance anymore. And then I stopped and walked some more. It was a lonely battle with myself, but I wasn’t alone.

Right past mile 20, the 4:00 pace team caught up with me. I hung with them for about a ¼ mile, and then they faded off into the distance. Damn, I wish I never let them go. From mile 20 – 25, I shuffled, I stumbled, I hobbled, I skipped, I walked, I ambled, I moved every which way but run like the wind. Put a costume on me and I would’ve made a knock out Frankenstein with the way I ran. I was beginning to worry about not making it in, but I was going to be damned if I allowed myself to give up in the middle of the road. All around me were casualties of the same cramps, literally left and right, every few feet. It was weird. Some were literally on their backs on the ground. Most were in various stages of doubling over.

On one of my stops to stretch out, around mile 23, Bex called me from the other side of the street. Once again, she had passed the turnaround and was headed back. I noted that she was on pace to break 4:00, when I saw the 4:00 pace team pass by behind her. I continued this way until I mercifully reached mile 25. Another kind soul had given me a large bottle of water, from which I had been drinking copious amounts every time I had to stop to shake the cramps. I also took every Gatorade offered to me between water stations, again from strangers along the way. At mile 25, I ditched the water bottle and vowed to press on and not stop until the end, no matter what.

It took forever to reach mile 26. Well, 10:55 actually. The others can tell you about a killer short hill past mile 26. Did I mention a killer short hill? I made it up, slowly, but I never stopped. And then suddenly, it was over.

Mile 2 - 19:23
Mile 3 - 9:18
Mile 4 - 8:49
Mile 5 - 8:47
Mile 6 - 8:53
Mile 7 - 8:58
Mile 8 - 8:43
Mile 9 - 8:47
Mile 10 - 8:50
Mile 11 - 8:27 (oo-rah! high-fivin' down Constitution Ave.)
Mile 12 - 8:52
Mile 13 - 9:13
Mile 14 - 9:09
Mile 15 - 9:40
Mile 16 - 9:19
Mile 17 - 9:19
Mile 18 - 9:26
Mile 19 - 9:14
Mile 20 - 10:01 (bye bye 4:00 pace team)
Mile 21 - 11:13 (ouch)
Mile 22 - 12:45 (ouch)
Mile 23 - 12:27 (ouch)
Mile 24 - 11:41 (ouch)
Mile 25 - 11:24 (ouch)
Mile 26 - 10:55 (ouch)
Mile 26.2 - 2:33


A PR over my first marathon at 4:25. Sigh.

A long time later, after I had pushed through the finisher’s corral, taken the race photo, squeezed through an incredibly small food tent, squeezed through another bridge packed up people to get to the other side where the UPS trucks were parked, I finally stopped. I met my wife’s cousin, Candace, who works in D.C. I met up with (a fast) Bex and her husband E., and just as we were leaving, we found David and Michelle.

We compared notes for a while, and then it was time to go. Bex and I were already planning our next marathon. I’ll let her tell you what she wants to qualify for, and I still want to break 4:00. All in all, despite it all, I had a great time, met up with some awesome RBFs, had some good food and even better company. Oo-rah!!

Saturday, October 28, 2006


I made it to D.C. A little late, a missed flight, D.C. traffic, rain, but I made it. With 3 minutes to go before our dinner reservation, I was still sitting in traffic on the way to my hotel, with Bex's phone number in the trunk. I called her later to tell her I'd be late, and eventually caught up with them just as everyone was finishing up their appetizer.

It was absolutely incredibly gastronomicaly fun to get together with all the other runners :) I got to meet
Susie and her David, the other David from Florida, Jeanne who's going to PR tomorrow for sure, Peter who will be running NYC next weekend, Hallie who ran the Army 10-miler recently, and of course the gracious host Bex! I left my camera cable at home, so I'll have to post them later.

I went for my last training "run" this morning, leaving the Hilton Embassy Row off Dupont Circle. I ran south a mile which took me to the White House, which had a few tourists mingling about. Turned around and ran back. 2 miles even. That's my kinda run! Yeah!

Back at my hotel, I headed up to the lounge they have for frequent guests, hoping to get maybe some water and a banana. Surprise! Scrambled eggs, potatoes, croissants. Just give me some protein and carbs! I loaded up, I'm stuffed, and I'm headed to the Expo to meet up with David. Just got a call from Bex and we'll join her for lunch later. The sun's out. I'm so ready for tomorrow!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Getting Closer

It finally arrived. My last long run, of only 8 miles, was completed today. I started late, at 4:45 pm, but it was a rare perfect fall afternoon for Dallas. You've all probably had these days, the sky couldn't be blue-er, the sun couldn't be shinier, the air couldn't be crisper, and the wind couldn't be cooler and more refreshing. We just don't get that many of them here.

Now if I can only hang on until next Sunday, I'll be at the starting line for MCM. By then, I'd have logged 524 miles of training over the past 18 weeks, easily a few hundred miles than I would've, had I not signed up for a marathon.

In the meantime, our baby turns 5 tomorrow (sob sob!). We took her and a few of her fellow princesses to Libby Lu's at Stonebriar Mall yesterday. If you have a little princess, this is apparently the place to be. Their birthday "makeover" party came with princess gowns for everyone, hair styling, make-up and nail polish (not quite a full manicure!). This is the girl who scored a hat-trick two weekends ago and put in two more goals earlier in the day against a boys team!

My baby's growing up, I ate too much cake, but otherwise everything's good.

Happy Birthday Sydney :)

Friday, October 06, 2006

Hello Old Friend

I flew into NYC tonight. It's been almost 4 months since I've been here, and I've missed the city. I got to my hotel room at 10:00 pm, and by 10:05 pm I was changed and out the door. A quick warm up in the lobby, and I was off.

From Lex and 51st, I just ran. The air had a bit of a chill in it. The streets were packed with traffic. NYPD had blocked off a section of Lex from the Doubletree to the W, and cars were backed up and honking like no tomorrow. Only in NYC. The sidewalks were full or people, but not crowded. I easily weaved in and out, and ran wherever the streets would take me, crossing whichever intersection gave me a green light.

I ran in the general direction of Central Park, but I had no plans to go in. I wasn't sure if it was still dangerous to run there at night, but when I got there, I noticed the park inside was deserted. I ran west along the perimeter of the park on 59th, passing upscale hotels with their beautiful people milling around outside. I caught the familiar but not-so-welcome whiff of the horse carriages lined up waiting for tourists. Even at night, in the midst of NYC hustle and bustle, I felt relaxed.

I made a long, slow loop from Columbus Circle to Hell's Kitchen to Times Square to Grand Central Station and back to Lexington, about 6 miles total. I've got a meeting downtown tomorrow, then a flight back to Dallas in the afternoon. I just had to see the city my way tonight while I could, and I'm glad I did.

Monday, September 25, 2006

It's Getting Real

For only the 3rd time in my life, I ran 20 or more miles. The first was a training run last year, then the San Diego RNR last year, then my 20 miler yesterday. Without MCM around the corner, 20 miles is just a bit too much for me to go and knock out for no reason.

I ran solo, starting in the dark at 6:30am, and finishing in 3:35. Nice easy even pace throughout, 2 GUs, 1 self-supplied water bottle unlike
others fortunate enough to have a support team, or at least some company!

I felt surprisingly fine all day yesterday after the run. I hope that's a good sign. When I did an 18-miler a few weeks back, I felt like %!@&# all day long, took a long afternoon nap, and still got up feeling tired!

This week is a step down week, followed by one more 20 miler the next week before tapering into the home stretch. I can almost smell the starting line ...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


I'd blog some more, but I'm sleepy, and it's only 10:40pm. Waking up early to run is ruining my "night person" persona. I've never gotten up so many times between 5:00 and 5:30 am as I have in the past couple of months.

Last Monday, I was thinking about this, close to the end of my 13 mile long run, shifted from the previous Sunday due to rain:

Ran a half mary
Before work
Before breakfast
Before sunrise
What the hell am I doing?

So it's not my best work, but it's all I had. I don't dislike running, I think, but I really can't wait to get MCM over with. I'm impatient while running, wanting to finish up, but also needing to stay on pace. I can't run too much faster, for fear of messing up my next run, and of course it hurts to run faster too. On my EZ runs and LSD runs, I generally take my time until the last couple of miles, and then I step on the gas because I desperately want to avoid missing my target time.

Despite all this, I enjoy the morning time. It's dark. It's cool. It's quiet. And I get to run down the middle of the street, all to myself. In the dark, you have to adjust your running. In the dark, you stay off the sidewalk, unless you want to step into hidden souvenirs left by dogs the night before. In the dark, you get prepared to run into a lot of cobwebs, at all the same places, like the spiders never learn. In the dark, I look up and see Orion in the sky, and I remember my dad teaching me to spot it when I was probably about 1st grade or so, and it's still there, and so is he. In the dark, when I'm running, I don't feel sleepy anymore. I feel good. Even if I don't know what the hell I'm doing out here.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

It's Been A While

My reading and commenting time took a big drop off. I started a new job back on 8/14, and it's been pretty hectic. At least it challenging and stimulating, but like any company, it has its Dilbert moments, and clients will always be clients, and there's never enough resources, and ... oh, never mind.

So let's see, what else is up? Well, I'm still running. My EZ runs are fine, my long runs are fine (18 miles last Sunday), but my last 2 pace runs really sucked. I was starting to get really worried, but I think I have it figured out. The past two weeks have been bad for allergies here, and I think that's it. I'm able to do my slower runs without any problems, but I run out of gas on the faster ones after about 3 miles. I have another 8 mile pace run on Sat, and my allergies have cleared up enough that I should be able to do it.

What else. I went to DC a couple of weeks ago, and didn't get to run. That stunk. I took a car service from BWI to Tysons Corner, and it cost a whopping $110! That's nuts. Even though that's not out of my pocket, that's too much. The next day I took the Metro into town ($2.94), met friend for breakfast at Union Station, took some calls, then took the Amtrak to BWI ($33). That felt a lot better. Plus, I really wanted to get around on the Metro and Amtrak because that's what I plan to use when I come back for MCM.

Nothing to report on the racing front. I'm missing all my favorite races, because they'll really mess up my Sat morning pace runs, and I don't need any more obstacles! The Half is the weekend after MCM. Early registration ends tomorrow. I'm wondering if I should chance running it, or if I'll be too spent after MCM. Maybe I'll try volunteering for a change. I'll miss out on the cool long sleeved tech shirt though.

Jumping around to another topic, I got a great deal on shoes I want to pass on. Check out Running Warehouse. It may have just been luck, but I found my Brooks Beast there for only $92! No tax, and free 2 day shipping. It's $120 retail! If they had more, I would've stocked up, but they only had one pair.

2 more things before I sign off. One - do you think I have the most boring header around? Well, say no more, I stumbled upon Susan's new gig, and viola! a new header will be arriving soon at this site ...

Two - Happy #0th Birthday to my other Susan, big sis Sue! I'm guessing there might be a drop or two of wine spilt today! Cheers!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Passing Dean The Invincible?

If you've been reading your Runner's World, you may have seen the ad for Dean Karnazes' upcoming 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days run. It starts 9/17/06 and ends 11/5/06 in NYC.

I thought this was a pretty creative, if gimmicky plan, for Dean to come up with. But hey, I'm still looking foward to seeing him at MCM, where he'll be running the actual race that Sunday.

So did anyone else hear about this other guy who seems to have quietly done the same thing? He's doing it for charity and he's almost done already, having finished 48 marathons in 47 days!

And how would you feel about this right now if you were Dean?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Property Irregularities May Affect Your Training Runs

At 7:07 am this morning, I left Dallas for Greensboro, North Carolina. My single checked-in bag did not.

Since TSA's new rules went into effect, I've flown twice, "won" one and lost one.

At 6:30 pm, my bag had not yet been delivered to my hotel. AA's baggage tracking system had no idea where the bag was, the local office was not answering calls, and the next and last flight in wouldn't arrive until 10:50 pm. It wasn't looking good for my training run tomorrow morning, unless I was going to run in rolled-up kakhis and dress shoes (+ black socks for that extra visual impact).

At 7:30 pm, on my way to the mall to buy a set of clothes for tomorrow, I decided to check in to the hotel first. Lo and behold, behind the registration desk was my bag. Incredible.

So, my training will continue uninterrupted for the moment. I'm beginning to really enjoy my Saturday pace runs, especially since I've started finishing them ahead of my target 9:09 pace. Nevertheless, while huffing and puffing through a 7 mile pace run, I keep wishing I was doing a slow relaxed LSD run instead. Then Sunday happens, and while plodding along in my 15 mile LSD run, I keep wishing I could just speed up and get this thing over with! Dream on.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

200M in 27:15

No, that's not a PR. It's how long it took American Airlines to move my bag from the gate to baggage claim last night. It was literally only 3 gates away, or 200M long given the way DFW is configured, and it took them 27 minutes! That's why I usually never check any bags, but ... c'est la vie.

At least I got in my EZ runs this week. Plus, it was a surprising and welcome 57F (gasp!) on Tuesday morning when I stepped out in Grand Rapids, Michigan for my run. Ran 4, 7, and 4 EZ on Tue, Wed, and Thu.

This morning it was back in Dallas for a 7 mile pace run. I managed to finish it right on pace, but I have no idea how I'm supposed to keep this pace for the entire 26.2!? I guess I'll have to trust Hal's plan and see how it goes.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Back In The Frying Pan

Texas that is. We're back from Singapore. Holy smokes, I read that there was a heat wave here, but this is unbelievable! There's no end to 100+F days in sight. We're pretty much camping indoors all day to escape the heat, which is fine since we're asleep most of the day with our jet lag anyway.

In the end, I was able to do most of my training runs up until we left last Thursday. My Sunday long run was pushed to Monday, which got rained out, so I did it on Tuesday. I ran 6+ miles to my sister's "flat", and surprised them with an early morning doorbell ring. After taking a GU, getting a bottle of water, and receiving no less than 3 pronouncements from sis that I was "bloody mad", I was off for the second half of the run. 12+ miles, 2:04:58.

I was off on Wed, we left on Thu, arrived on Thu also after 19 hours in flight and 3 hours in transit, and I was asleep all morning on Fri. Today, Sat, I was up since 2:30 am, so by 6:00 am I was ready for my run! I wasn't altogether as with it as I thought, and it was ugly but I finished my 6 mile pace run. Tomorrow is a 9 mile "short" long run.

We had a great vacation. I'll leave with a few favorite pics ...

We took a short road trip up to Malaysia. Outside of the cities, much of the country is still a trip back in time. Here's a makeshift roadside fruit-stand. Amazing that stuff like this still exists, but don't tell the Health Department.

Cappuccino? Oh yeah. Should've bought more. I passed on the limited edition Lemon Cheesecake flavor. I'm not kidding.

Some pics from our trip to the Singapore Zoo. I'm not a zoo person, but this is the best zoo I've ever been to by a long shot.

OK, one last food item. After countless samplings of local fare, this is what I eventually settled on as my default meal. In the first pic, the bowl in front is mine, a dish called "laksa" which is a noodle dish in a fiery hot coconut based curry broth. Just smelling it will start you sweating! After I survive that, for dessert I'll have what's in the second pic, which is called "ice kachang". It's shaved ice dripped in syrup and sweet milk with red beans, sweet corn, and jelly inside. Sounds bad, I know, but it tastes good! Fire and ice, both for about US$3.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Mizuno 10K

Last night I carbo-loaded on a double order of Hainanese Chicken Rice, which is a local specialty here in Singapore. For good measure, I topped it off with a sampling of durian, an incredibly popular fruit here available only in the summer months, but also one that comes with a pretty strong odor - overwhelmingly pungent to some, odorless to others. Go figure. Nevertheless, chicken rice and durian ... not your everyday pre-race meal.

This morning was humid as usual, but the sun remained hidden behind a high cloud cover. At 7:00 am, I arrived at the Kovan MRT Station, one of the stops along the North East subway line. Outside, about a thousand or more people were already milling about. A quick stretch, and even quicker warmup, and I was ready to go. I took a GU and went to the water station for water, but they weren't giving out any. Free watermelon slices though, so I took one. GU and watermelon juice. That's a new one too. I hoped it wasn't some unknown no-no combination.

About 7:20 am, everyone started to gather under an inflatable arch start line in the parking lot. The race was scheduled to begin at 7:30 am. It seemed early, but without even an announcement, the air horn sounded and we were off. There was a sharp hairpin turn up an incline to get out of the parking lot, which quickly became a bottleneck 20 seconds into the race. Several of us jumped a low metal fence to bypass the turn. About a quarter mile later, we spilled out onto a main road, on which most of the out and back race was run.

A run's a run, and halfway around the world, I tried to fall into my pace. I was aiming for a marathon race pace of 9:09/mile, which was on my training schedule for today. One thing I did notice is that most of the runners were pretty disciplined runners. Unlike most of my other races, I did not have to contend with walkers and other out-of-gas jackrabbits in the early stages of the race. Most of the runners were local Singaporeans, with a sprinkling of Europeans, Aussies, and maybe Americans (hard to tell unless they start talking ... grunting, wheezing, and hard breathing doesn't reveal much!).

I made the turn at 25:30, and brought it home in 53:49. About a minute faster than planned, and since I don't run that many 10Ks, this is also a PR for me! After the race, I picked up the goodie bag with a really nice Mizuno short sleeved tech shirt ... a fantastic value since the race fee was only Sing$15. That's about US$9.50! This race fit perfectly with my training plan, and I got a good training shirt to go with it. Not too shabby for a morning's work.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Beer 'n Curry

A little marathon training indulgence. Check out the dinner plates, or lack thereof, at the Banana Leaf Apollo Restaurant in the Little India section of town. All washed down with Singapore's local Tiger Beer. Mmmm Mmmm Good!

Postcard From Singapore

Greetings from Singapore! We arrived just past midnight local time Wednesday morning. It's been 13 years since I was last here, and 26 years since I moved from Singapore to the States. It feels like walking into a familiar old building, except that all the furniture's been moved around. Oh, but they left the heat on of course. And the humidifier. Lots of them.

Eager to shake the jet lag and test my running in this humidity, I went out an EZ 5 mile out and back on Wednesday morning. I cheated the heat and started at 5:30 am, running on 3 hours sleep. The run was fine, but within minutes, I was sweating profusely. In this humidity, my new discovery is that wicking shirts don't wick worth a lick (sorry, a little literary indulgence). At the turnaround, I went shirtless, which meant most of my sweat now went towards soaking my shorts instead! It felt like my shorts were vacuum packed directly on me. I hoped it didn't look that way too.

Undaunted, I went out for another EZ run this morning, aiming for 6 miles. I went out at 7:00 am this time, running on 11 hours sleeps. Yup, 11 hours! I laid out a loop route this time, which would take me past my old torture chamber high school. The Anglo-Chinese School was founded in 1886 by British missionaries, and stood atop a small hill. A single road led up the hill on one side and down the other, making almost a complete circular loop. Occasionally, we were made to run this loop for Phys Ed or other sadistic reasons. I don't recall a single instance when I was able to complete this loop without walking or without stopping. In my mind, they might as well have asked me to walk across the Red Sea; it just wasn't going to happen. Except today. In 5:15 flat. Couldn't have been more than 2/3 mile. Unbelievable. Childhood Demons : 0, Me : 1.

Other than running, it's been one gastronomic exercise after another. There's just some stuff you can't get in Dallas, and not even in NYC. Here's my three girls, my dad, and I at a local food market for breakfast and groceries:

where I snapped this pic of a fruit or vegetable that I have never seen before in my life. I still don't know what it is:

Any ideas?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Catch You On The Other Side

We leave tomorrow for Singapore. It'll be our end of summer vacation, coming back just before school begins in early August. 13 hours to Tokyo, plus 7 more hours to Singapore, is going to be a long long flight.

I hope to keep my training schedule while I'm there. I missed one run this week because something I ate gave me a fever, chills, and a different kind of runs than I was planning. My doctor said he's seen a lot of that lately; makes me wonder why. How does a whole city suddenly start having more cases of food poisoning than usual?

Today it's 102F + 27% humidity in Dallas, and 90F + 89% humidity in Singapore. I'll be testing first-hand that old "it's not the heat, it's the humidity" thing. Uh-huh. If I survive the humidity, next Sunday, I'm signed up for the
Mizuno Wave 10K there. On the plus side, there's a 12 hour difference in time zones, so I should be wide awake for my 6:00 AM runs!

Friday, July 07, 2006

What Was RW Thinking?

This has been bugging me since I got my issue of RW a couple of weeks ago. I don't know why I can't just let it go. On two separate topics, I think RW did a big disservice to our running community.

Revisionist Drinking: New Rules On Hydration

The whole article could be summed up in this quote: "If you come up to a water station and you're ambivalent about downing a cup, you're not thirsty and you don't need to drink. But if you see the water at the station and crave it, then you're truly thirsty and should have a drink."


1. It's not that black and white. Everyone already knows what to do if you're either bloated or dying of thirst. So what are you supposed to do in between?

2. It doesn't say how much to drink, a sip, a few sips, the whole cup, chug the Gatorade bucket?

3. It doesn't account for how far apart the water stations are. Are we supposed to keep passing each station, getting progressively thirstier until we really "crave" a drink, and then the next station is a killer to get to?

Personally, I'll keep drinking a few sips to half a cup at every station, unless I feel like drinking more at any one station.

The Marathon Experiment: How We Turned A Slacker Into A Finisher

This guy wasn't just a slacker, he was a non-runner! WTF again!

1. Seriously folks, do we really want to encourage first-time NON-RUNNERS to go for it in 18 weeks to run a marathon? Is this how we want to get people started with a lifelong love for running?

2. How many RW readers do you think are closet non-runners? Who's in this non-running customer segment that RW is trying to reach with this article? Are we in that slow a news month?

3. Anyone know of a good swimming magazine for non-swimmers? I've always wanted to swim across the English Channel ... can I still do it before Thanksgiving?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Liberty 5K 2.65 miler

When's the last time this happened to you? Line up for a 5K race. 8:00 am and sun's already bearing down hard. Without warning, horn goes off and everyone starts running. No mile markers, but course is familiar from previous year's races. Trudging along a residential neighborhood and 10 mins pass by. Hmm, no water stops. Never mind, don't need any yet. 15 mins go by. Turn a corner and we're back close to where we started. That was fast?! Whoa, those speed workouts really worked! Cross the line in 20:45, a miraculous PR by almost 4 mins! Too good to be true ... and of course, it wasn't.

I knew it before I crossed the finish. Later, I overheard some front-runners talking to a race official, telling him that one of the race workers had blocked off the turn we were supposed to take, and directed everyone down the shortened path. The online results now lists the race as the "Liberty 2.65 Mile Race". Sadly, it showed I was on a PR pace, but I don't think I trust their 2.65 mile measurement! It was hot, and I was sucking wind close to the end.

On the bright side, marathon training week 1 is history. To make up for the Saturday faux pas, I ran 6 on Sunday morning to get in the "long" run the training plan called for. The run was book-ended by one of my 10-yr old's birthday slumber party at the local Embassy Suites. 5:00 pm to 11:00 pm Saturday with a bunch of free-spirited independent-thinking going-on 5th grade girls is quite a blast! I left the good wife to supervise the party overnight ("no boys allowed - i.e. me"), slept at home, ran Sunday morning, and rejoined the party at 9:00 am while they were just getting up! Just so you know we don't play favorites, my other 10-yr old had her birthday party last week. The gym rat had it at, where else, her gym! Can you tell one loves frogs and the other loves monkeys? Fraternal twins, oh yeah.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Marathon Training Started Without Me


When I registered for MCM, I dusted off my 16-week marathon training spreadsheet, entered the 10/29 race date, and back-filled the weekly dates to get to a training start date of 7/2. With that in mind, I always thought my training would start the first week of July. Except that I checked again today, and training should've started the week ending 7/2 ... i.e. this week.
Still, it's only the first week, and I was supposed to do 3/3/3 on Tue/Wed/Thu followed by 6 on Sat. Instead, I happened to do 4/0/4 on Tue/Wed/Thu and tomorrow I'm doing the Liberty 5K race here in Dallas.

So I might not get all the miles in this week, but I think I'll still walk away well trained. Why? Because of a heck of a workout yesterday and today trimming trees in my backyard. Every July 4th, the well-heeled members of the Gleneagles County Club here in Plano assemble at the club for an All-American Buffet followed by a spectacular private fireworks display. Non-members such as yours truly, assemble the family clan at our house for a big, boisterous dinner, followed by pool-side seats to view the same so-called "private" fireworks display directly across our back yard! We're barely a mile and a half from the club, so it's almost as good as being there!

I only managed to trim two of the four large trees I have in the back, but even that led to this mountain of a pile of brush for the recycling truck to pick up. It easily took over a hundred trips from the backyard to the back driveway, carrying or pulling branches, and stacking them on top of this pile. Some of the logs you see must have weighed a good 40-50 lbs each. It took 6 hours total to do this, 3 unplanned dips into the pool to cool off, 1 slightly twisted ankle (but not enough to keep me from my race tomorrow), and miraculously, 0 broken bones or chain-saw mishaps! I'm marking this down as "cross-training" on my marathon training spreadsheet!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

50 Yards and Olympic Glory

At the annual Dadfest 5K in Dallas today, they inaugurated the 50 yard dash, which this Dad was all over! I signed up our 4-yr old, Sydney, and got her all psyched up, carbed up, and well rested last night for a 6:45 am wake-up call. She even caught an extra 15 mins power nap on the drive over to the Pizza Hut Park, home to FC Dallas.

A thunderstorm had blown through overnight and it was unusually cool, overcast, and windy this morning. We got there in plenty of time to get ready before the 7:45 am start.

The race was run in waves of 6-8 runners, which sometimes ballooned to 12-14 runners because, well, 3 and 4-yr old kids don't always follow instructions closely and when the big man with the loud voice yells "GO!", sometimes you just gotta take off and run!

Sydney was in the 3rd or 4th wave, and I stood behind her waiting for the signal. Mom and sis waited at the other end, ready with the camera. At the last minute, she turned and said she wanted me to run with her, and I said I would follow behind her but don't wait for me!

Finally, the big guy says "GO!" and off she went. With blazing speed, she lit up the concrete and coasted to an easy finish, barely breaking a sweat! And the best part ... they all got a medal! What a way to make the little kids happy!

The 5K started a little past 8:00 am. Unbelievably, it was my first race of the year. I usually sign up for several races beginning in March, but with travel and soccer games and gym meets and volleyball tournaments, I just didn't get around to it until now. It felt "good" to run again, but I quickly got that deja vu feeling of eagerly signing up for the race, can't wait for it to start, and then gasping for air mid-race and wondering again why I put myself through this torture?

Oh, and the Olympic part of this story ... guess who started off the 5K? All Around Gold Medalist in the 1984 LA Olympics, Mary Lou Retton!

This made my other daughter and gymnast-in-training, Stephanie's day, and she even passed up a sleepover at a friend's house last night so she could follow her 'ol Pop to a run meet this morning! Now, if only Mary Lou had told her to eat more protein and don't forget her vegetables ...