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!