Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Seasons Change

The house is quiet now. All the little creatures are back in their rooms fast asleep. The Wii (courtesy of Secret Santa) and Nintendo DS (that's as far as their old man would go) are finally shut off. Dear old Daisy wandered out a moment ago and found a spot under the Christmas tree, to keep me company late into the night.

With age and progress, gone are the days spent assembling a bike or two, building something new out of Lego, or opening up packages of Barbies and Polly Pockets each with 75 minuscule accessories. Instead, you just plug it in, switch it on, and turn it up. As I write this, there are chargers galore going full tilt all over the house, prepping for tomorrow's onslaught. Bah Humbug!

Yet even while I wax nostalgic, one of those charges is for, um, me. My old school $24.95 Timex Ironman watch with it's resin strap will still work for every occasion no matter what the dress code is, but S. got me this for my running. I took it out for a spin today, and it's a keeper. The 5-mile loop around the neighborhood that I marked out using my car's odometer ... Garmin measured it down to the last crack in the sidewalk marking the end of my route ... exactly 5:00 miles. I'm hooked.

Merry Christmas everyone, and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 17, 2007

27F Perfect

Sunday morning. 7:45am. 27F. No wind. Feels like 27F. Sunrise. 12 miles. 1:59:23. Feels good to be alive.

The first pic is looking out our bedroom window just before my run. The second pic is a mile and a half away where the fancy homes begin; we live back amongst the cheap seats.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Life In The B.D. Lane - Surely Make You Lose Your Mind

As in "Before Disney".

I'm not sure what my goals are for Disney anymore. I don't need to PR, but it would be nice to not exceed my worst time (what's the opposite of PR?). I've got a beat on a new plan to boost my running hopefully, which will be revealed in due course, but I gotta get beyond Disney first.

In the meantime, just supposing you had to travel from Dallas to Orlando for a marathon, and wanted to give yourself ample time to get there, get situated, get expo'd, get RBF'd, get coffee, get sleep, and wake up for a 6:00 AM start (what the?), what's the quickest route to get there?

Answer? You make your flight reservations months in advance to fly in Thursday, rest up Friday and Saturday, and race Sunday, right?


The right answer - you get scheduled for a meeting all the way over in f***ing SEATTLE from 3-5PM PST on f***ing FRIDAY so you can take the f***ing RED-EYE to Miami and hop over to Orlando by f***ing lunchtime Saturday!

I gotta stop taking speech therapy from Bex.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Going With Plan B

I was layered and bundled from head to toe when I stepped outside this morning at 5:50am. I had an 8-miler to make up from last weekend. Immediately, I felt a bone chilling cold descend on me. Decision time.

Do it now, get it over with, stay on course with my training plan, and come back a frozen tuna. Or ...

Wait till later in the day, maybe it'll warm up a touch. OK, I did, and it didn't. Worse, it started drizzling a slow mist all day.

At 6:00pm, I drove over to the new rec center, literally across the street from me, and signed up. Hello, dreadmill, I thought I saw the last of ye.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Memphis Memories

Memphis is already a distant memory. I’ve been on the road all week, and am just now getting down to reminiscing about my race. The start was a block and a half away, and the finish was right outside my window, shown here at 6:30 am when I got up.

For a change of pace, I thought I’d just write about some impressions I took away from the race, like …

• A fit-looking 30-ish guy wearing a Goofy hat does not inspire confidence in a 4:00 pace leader.

• A fit-looking 30-ish blonde in hot pink velour long sweat pants provides some reason for hesitation in a pace leader, but beats Goofy hands down any day.

• No matter how appetizing your brain thinks it looks, a chocolate frosted donut mysteriously tastes like compressed sawdust when you’re in your 3rd hour of running.

• Spectators who yell “Way to go 4-minute milers!” when you run by with your pace team posse at mile 16 can make you feel elite, even if you know they're woefully mistaken.

• Spectators who hesitantly call out “Uh, looking good” when you hobble by alone on wobbly cramped legs at mile 20 have got to hurt more to say that than you do to look it.

• At the end of the race, a hot cup of broccoli cheese soup really hits the spot. Even better when followed by a hot cup of southwestern chicken enchilada soup.

• Whoever invents instant anti-cramping cream is never going to have to work another day in his/her life.

For the record, here are the splits:

Mile 2: 18:16 (9:08 avg)
Mile 4: 18:44 (9:22 avg)
Mile 6: 18:26 (9:13 avg)
Mile 8: 18:17 (9:08 avg)
Mile 9: 9:11
Mile 10: 9:21
Mile 11: 9:14
Mile 12: 9:19
Mile 13: 9:00
Mile 14: 9:07
Mile 15: 9:17
Mile 16: 9:09
Mile 17: 9:12
Mile 18: 9:11
Mile 19: 10:02 (uh-oh)
Mile 20: 11:43 (whump)
Mile 21: 12:14 (thud)
Mile 22: 13:06 (crash)
Mile 23: 13:34 (burn)
Mile 24: 13:01 (ouch)
Mile 26: 24:56 (12:28 avg)
Mile 26.2: 2:19

Saturday, December 01, 2007

A GREAT Training Run!

4:26:54 is the best training run I've ever done. I wouldn't say it's the worst race for me, unless you go strictly by finish time :-) The wheels fell off a bit early, between 18-19 miles, and the dastardly cramps set in. It was a son-of-a-b!t#h to walk/run home, but I'm satisfied and content with finishing. Next up - Disney. First, a shower, then a flight home.

Friday, November 30, 2007

It's Memphis Time

I'm finally in Memphis. Arrived yesterday afternoon from Minneapolis, and I'm glad to be out of Minnesota! Checked into my hotel downtown and did a little bit more work. I'm right across from Autozone Ball Park, which is where the race will finish. If I can stumble over the finish line, I'll be able to crawl back to my room!

Dinner last night was half a block down at Rendezvous. I dunno - I still prefer Corky's, but Memphis Ribs is better than no ribs at all. The place is like in a basement off a deserted alley, but inside, it's bustling. I was seated in the front section, and there's one side room and one back room, both of which open to more rooms, which open to more rooms, and on and on. There's a few old guys whose only job seems to be escorting people deep into the back of this maze. This one guy would reappear from the back every few minutes, and I'm not kidding, he'd yell the exact same thing every single time to the hostess up front:

"Howmanyyougot Baby?" ... pause ...
"Awl-right, burr-ring 'em on!"

Then he'd turn around and disappear with another pack of people following him.

I had a small order of ribs and a side of red beans and rice for carbs. Forgot to take a picture of it before I started, but this is it half-way through.

This morning I worked some more from my room until about lunch time, then took the rest of the day off. I wandered down to Beale Street where I saw BB King play years ago. The whole place was pretty much deserted today, and I ended up at Cafe 61 for lunch. It was great! I had a Jimbolaya and for extra carbs - the Crawfish Mac 'n Cheese.

After lunch, I headed out to the Expo. I ran into this Memphis Trolley thing almost immediately, but decided I probably should walk off the lunch a little bit. It was about 4 blocks away.

The weather was just a touch chilly but bearable. There was no line at all at the Expo. Got my bib, chip, and goody bag in about 45 seconds. The long sleeved cotton t-shirt is, well, cotton.

It wasn't a big expo, and mostly the same merchandise as other expos. However, I did run into a couple of familiar faces hanging on the wall at one of the booths!

Dinner tonight, I think, will be back on Beale Street, hopefully more alive this time. Kings Palace Cafe looked pretty good for gumbo and blackened chicken pasta! That should keep me tied over until race time tomorrow, no?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Is That December Around The Corner?

My sister's family just left after spending Thanksgiving week with us. 3 teenagers and no DSL - somehow we survived! My DSL died and I took the opportunity to switch providers, which somehow through the wonder of technology still takes 5 to 10 business days. Something's wrong when UPS can ship me a new modem in two days but someone can't flip a switch to start the flow of electrons in less time than that?

Anyway, I haven't been posting and I haven't been reading much. Blogger isn't quite optimized for dial-up access. I have been running still, and I can't believe my race is next weekend already! I ran this past Wednesday in shorts and no shirt. By Thursday, I was running in long pants, two long sleeved shirts, gloves, and wool hat - huh? This cold front and rain looks like it's staying for a while.

Memphis is looking at a 60% chance of showers, high 53, low 46. No matter - I'm ready to rock 'n roll! Rae and Brent - are you guys still coming into town to run? How about a RBF meetup? Anyone else running Memphis?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Top 10 Signs You Won't Be Winning NYC

Other than the fact that the race ended 6 days ago ...

Friday, November 09, 2007

San Antonio Francisco

Fall is usually a very short season here in Texas. One day it's summer-blazing hot, then it rains like a monsoon for a few days, then Fall is over. This year, it can't make up it's mind. Half the leaves on my trees are already rotting in the pool, while the other half steadfastly clings on. I don't have the stomach to clean it up until everything has come down. And some neighbors have the nerve to put up Christmas lights already. Amazing.

My morning runs this week have been bone-chilling refreshing. I've been comfortable in shorts, but double layered on top and with gloves to boot (to boot, he he).

Memphis is coming up fast, but first, I have a few trips to make. Vegas again next week, then short trips to Pittsburgh and Minneapolis. American Airlines has an annual Road Warrior contest. The rules change every year, and it's never about the total miles flown. This year it's about pictures. They've chosen five finalists. Go vote for this guy - I'm glad it's a good enough idea that there's at least two of us doing it!

While I was fooling around with my travel pictures, I put a couple of them together and stumbled upon this. Different cities, different dates, perfectly aligned. San Antonio Francisco. Weird huh?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Pink Is Good

Midway into my 8-miler this morning, I ran into my good friend J., who was just pulling out of her driveway. J. ran the Dallas Half last year, finishing well in 2:16 despite minimal practice. I had to lend her my running gloves the night before the race, and even threw in a couple packs of GU for good measure. She rolled down the window as I approached her SUV.

J.: "That orange sweatshirt must be what's making you run so SLLLOOOW!"

Me (thinking): "It's burnt orange, and it's a running jacket, not a sweatshirt. Hmmm - must not be a Longhorn fan."

Me (thinking some more): "Oh hey yo! Nice silk pink camisole top and matching pink flannel space cowgirl jammie pants. You don't see that every day on a training run!"

Me (out loud): "Don't bother changing out of your jammies just to drive your kids to school, you're probably not going to run into anyone but me. (Pause) And just because I have a photographic memory doesn't mean you have to start worrying about anything, ok?"

I was thinking as I ran off, on days like this, who needs GU?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A Great Weekend

Yesterday was a wonderful day. While it didn't start out quite as planned, by mid-afternoon we were watching the Purple Haze cruise to a 4-0 win in their last game of the season. More excitingly for the girls, they finished a remarkable 8-0 for an undefeated kindergarten girls season!

We're so proud of Sydney and all the girls, who have progressed from the first few games spent picking daisies to the last game where 4 different girls scored our 4 goals. Here's a pic of the team that struck fear in the hearts of all who had to play against them! Syd's in the back, 4th from the right.

Actually, they're all just wonderful kids, princesses, all of them! I love this pic because we unknowingly had them staring straight into the sun - the poor girls are giving it their best "cheese" smile but can barely get their eyes open! We moved them later and got some better pics, but this is still my favorite. They all got cupcakes and medals after the game, and Syd finished as the top scorer on the team!

Later that afternoon, I had planned to get my 8-mile pace run going again, but somehow ended up with a 2 hour nap instead! I woke up a few times feeling guilty about it, but not guilty enough to prevent me from falling back asleep again!

This morning, with the nap plus an extra hour from daylight savings, I tossed and turned long before it was time to get up. I still had visions of my daylight savings fiasco from MCM last year, and I wasn't about to repeat it this year. Thankfully, I made it safely to the DRC Half this morning by 7:00-ish.

The race started right about 8:00 am. I planned to use this as a training run, with a 10:06 min/mile goal time. This is what ended up instead:

Mile 2: 18:54
Mile 3: 9:25
Mile 4: 9:24
Mile 5: 9:23
Mile 6: 9:21
Mile 7: 9:00
Mile 8: 9:07
Mile 9: 9:17
Mile 10: 9:07
Mile 11: 8:29
Mile 12: 8:36
Mile 13: 8:42
Mile 13.1: 0:55

Total time = 1:59:45. Not a PR, but I'm totally happy with it for a training run. I have a prefect stranger to thank for it too.

Somewhere past mile 9, I fell into step with another girl running. We seemed to have the same pace, and were pushing it a bit. Without looking at each other, or saying a single word, we ran side by side for most of the next few miles. It was a surreal connection. It wasn't competitive at all, just us two pushing each other.

Through twists and turns, through water stops, through squeezing past or going around other runners, we'd slow down to let the other catch up, then push the pace once again. For almost 3 miles, not a word. I spent most of that time wondering how I was going to keep up the pace, thinking about how badly I wanted to finish together so I could thank her for making this a great run, thinking about how much gatorade I had spilled on my shirt at that last water stop! We must have passed more than a hundred runners along the way.

Then 3/4-mile from the end, inexplicably, she stopped. I took 2 steps before I realized what had happened, and then I hit the brakes and turned around. With a half-smile half-gasp, she said "I can't go on". I said softly "Yes you can, c'mon, we'll make it". And so she picked up her feet again and started running, the pace a touch slower, and we continued down the last mile. After the final turn, with the finish in sight, I pointed ahead and said to her "it's all yours". She kicked up a final sprint, and I followed her in to the finish.

While they were collecting our chips, she thanked me for pacing her in. I congratulated her for her strong finish, and was thinking I should be the one thanking her for pacing me! We went our separate ways, and I never saw her again.

Later this afternoon, to cap a great weekend, we celebrated Sydney's 6th birthday with a joint birthday party with her buddy Alaina and 37 other kindergartners! Thankfully it was outside at a pizza party place and not at home!

Last but not least, Susan and David finished NYC! Go over and tell them how great they are!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Left Brain's Connected To The Right Knee

But the right brain should've taken over. Why did I think today would be a good day to break in a new pair of shoes? Race day is a month away, and the old pair has faithfully done it's thing. Tomorrow is a half mary tune-up, but before that, an 8-mile pace run today. Not so.

At half a mile, my right knee started hurting. At one mile, my left shin started hurting. At one and a half miles, I finally decided this was all connected from the left shin to the right knee to the new shoes. I bagged the run and walked home. It's still early, I'll get my run in sometime today.

In other "exciting" news - I recently "discovered" this website. Those "English Lit" majors or aspiring "journalists" (and some "real" ones) among you might get a chuckle or two out of it.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Another Year, Another Marathon

It was already late afternoon when I remembered where I was this time a year ago - running my 2nd marathon in Washington DC at the MCM. In about a month, I'll be running my 4th, and then hopefully 5th marathon next January, if all goes well. My training has finally hit the 20-mile mark, and I hit the road at 7:08 am this morning to begin that long, lonely, painful journey, while the rest of suburbia slept on.

It was comfortable enough that I wore shorts, but cool enough that I needed two layers up top. After my run, a shower, a half bagel, and a cup of hot chocolate, I crawled back in bed and pulled the covers over in order to warm up my core body temperature, something I had read about somewhere. I'm pretty sure I also fell asleep instantly.

This time last year was also my first RBF meetup, and what a fine group of distinguished runners it turned out to be, with (ladies first)
Bex, NBTR, Susie, Michelle, and bringing up the rear (but never in a race!) Peter and David. Peter ran NYC last year, and David will be running it next week!

Speaking of next week, while
Susan and David are traipsing around the 5 boroughs, I'll be doing my cut-back long run in the Dallas Running Club Half (previously simply known as "The Half", until half marathons started popping up all over the place, and you couldn't tell anyone you were running "The Half" without them asking you "yeah, but which one?"). After that, it's one more 20-miler and then the long awaited taper. I can't wait!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Heaven Help Me

In an instant, the tides have changed. The cool, crisp yet sunny fall weather has given way to overcast skies, wind, and rain.

Sunday was the last of the pleasant days, I'm afraid, and even that showed signs of change. I had read the night before of something called the Orionids, a meteor shower that peaks every year on Oct 21, near the constellation Orion. Since I've been running into (ha ha) this Orion dude a lot lately, I thought it would be a great opportunity to catch some falling stars. It was decidedly less exciting at 5:45 am Sunday morning, bleary eyed, trying to stay upright in a strong forceful wind that kicked up every fallen leaf and swayed trees back and forth all around me. I didn't see a single meteor, but I did do 13 miles before 8:00 am.

Monday brought more wind, plus rain. Maybe my mind is playing tricks on me, but I've started to feel a tickle in my throat and just a touch of stuffiness in my nose. In response, I've been loading up on juice and fluids, and regretting the number of times I've driven past the "flu shots available" signs without stopping. I've even given Airborne a try, which for me to do so means I'm desperate. I just don't want anything to interrupt my already irregular training! Tomorrow's 5-miler will be a game-day decision.

Lastly, I'm going to need help over the next few months. I received an email a while ago asking for volunteers to help with an upcoming race. Seemed like a good idea at the time and a chance to give something back to the running community. We just had our first meeting. Just about every volunteer is the head of a committee (seems like there are no committee members, just heads, hmmmm ...). Somehow, I ended up as the 5K Run for Hope committee "chair". This is for the MS Society. I'm half excited, half scared silly, and fully humbled by this. I've yet to determine exactly what needs to happen, but I suspect most of the hard work will be done by the local running store that handles a lot of these races. It's all for a good cause and should be a fun experience. If anyone wants to come along for the ride, there's plenty of room ... don't be shy now!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Keep On Truckin'

I've been in town for almost 2 weeks now - yay! In that time span, my beloved Longhorns have sunk into the toilet, leading to my new-found interest in them Cowboys, and I've been trying to keep up with running.

While some runs are still a struggle, there's more good runs than bad runs now, and I'm really happy about that. I was up to 18 miles last weekend for my long run, and it went easier than expected even if my time was off a bit at 3:15 and change.

Here's some good news I found today. I'm a big fan of GU, and totally won over by their Expresso Love flavor. New for the holidays ... Mint Chocolate.
I've got to get me some.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Is It Friday Yet?

I think I hit a new low this morning as I boarded my 6:50 am flight in Chicago, and it was already my 2nd flight of the day. I was in transit from Indianapolis to Washington DC, where I landed, went to the client, spent 2 hours enduring a royal a$$-chewing on behalf of the mother ship corporation, left, and flew back home. At least I can take comfort in knowing that the problems pre-dated my involvement, but being the person called upon to clean up someone else's mess didn't do much to make me less of an easy target.

My trips this week weren't all bad. I had an 8 mile EZ run on the schedule for Wednesday, and my hotel in Indianapolis came with a free pass to the gym next door. Since I neither own a treadmill nor belong to a gym, I rarely run on a treadmill, and completing 8 miles on one last night is probably an indoor distance record for me!

By the time I finished, I was famished. After a shower, I drove around looking for something reasonably acceptable and ended up at Panera Bread, where I had this conversation when placing my order:

Me: How big is this crispani thing?

She: Um, it's pretty big. I think it's enough to like feed 2 people.

Me: Oh (pause)

She: (sensing my hesitation) ... but I think you can probably finish it ...

Me: Actually, I was thinking it's not going to be enough!

I ended with a BBQ chicken crispani, a bowl of chicken noodle soup, and an ice tea. For the record, I couldn't finish the darn thing.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Half Way There And It's About Time!

Week 9 of marathon training and I've reached the half way point finally. I've also missed more runs during this training season than I have in the past, but I'm not stressing out over it. Most of the misses were due to work and travel schedules.

Like this week for example. Instead of 3 EZ runs, I only managed one, albeit a fun one. Tuesday morning, 5:30 am, Las Vegas strip. It was chillier than I expected, felt like in the low 60's maybe, and I'm glad I decided against going shirtless. This is the view alongside the Bellagio, where I was NOT staying ($500+ a night? No way to hide that expense report).

I easily ran into a dozen or more die-hard runners out there despite the early hour. Unfortunately, no Elvis sightings to report. Sigh.

On Wednesday I was in Minneapolis but missed my run. On Thursday I was back home but missed my run again. On Friday I wasn't supposed to run, but I half-heartedly went out for 2-3 miles just to keep the joints working.

This morning, I wasn't looking forward to my 7-mile pace run, but I knew I could not ignore it. I've yet to hit any of my pace run goal times, but I've been coming close. My past two weekend attempts at this distance were 1:02:13 and 1:01:31. Today, 59:32. Yeah baby. It's about time.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Tour des Fleurs 20K

It was a beautiful morning yesterday, even if I had to get up at 5:30am. Race time was 7:30am. A 15-mile LSD was on the docket, but this 20K presented a nice change of "pace" :-)

Plus, I got to run with the one and only Runner Susan! I called her when I got to the race, and she was just arriving with her friend from Ohio, Marta, and her mom.

Marta's fast. And she ran NYC last year, and she's running it again this year with Susan. They're going to have a blast. Anyone out there running NYC - go over to Susan's site and let her know. How can a meetup in NYC go wrong?

The race was at White Rock Lake, over some of the same route as the White Rock Marathon. Susan and I ran the first 3 miles together, and then we split up. The rest of the race just kind of flew by. I didn't really have a goal time in mind since this was just a training run. Instead, I was thinking about the hot dogs and beer that Susan said they laid out last year - that sounded really good during the run. By the time I finished though, all I wanted was water. I saw the free beer, but no sight or smell of hot dogs anywhere.

I finished in 1:59:22. Marta finished ahead of me, and Susan was behind me just a bit. Somehow I missed both of them at the finish! Oh well, we'll just have to do this again next year.

Monday, September 17, 2007

My Other Running Log

As marathon training enters it's 8th week, I can last longer out there, but I'm sure not getting faster. Not even in the shortest distance. That brutal reality hit home when I crossed the finish line last weekend in my 5K Corporate Challenge in 25:38. That's slower than the first 5K I ran this year, back in March. Plus, it was held on a Sunday, so I had to choose between a 5K race and a 14-mile LSD run. Right, some decisions are just too easy.

That might explain why I continue to flirt with missing most of my pace run target times. My EZ runs are no gimmes either. In their place, I've decided to enjoy what I can from my runs ...

... like last week, when I was in-and-out of Washington D.C., and managed to get in 2 early morning runs. Yes, it was tough getting up at essentially 4:30 AM CST, but there was no other way. On Tuesday, I did about 4 miles from Dupont Circle to the Washington Monument and back. It was 9-11, and it was a bit sobering to see all the flags at half-mast encircling the monument. On Wednesday, I extended the run to reach Congress before turning back, for about 7 miles.

Everything's relative, but I don't travel as much as I used to. When I think of all the places I've been, there's a slew of run-of-the-mill impersonal nameless faceless places interspersed with an occasional spectacular 5-star locale. The views from my hotel window are like a running log ;-) of my life on the road. All exist now only in my fading memory, except that I started keeping track of them here. Better late than never.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Let's Try That Again

Tomorrow is pace day. It's 6 weeks into marathon training, and I've yet to hit my first pace run on pace! For a while, it was the blood donation explanation, but I think that has since expired. Maybe my timing for a 3:45 marathon is just too ambitious. Anyway, I'll give it my best shot again tomorrow for a 6-mile run and see what happens. C'est la vie!

I think I've dropped 5 lbs since this thing started. I now hover between 155 and 160. If I could eat normally instead of thinking I constantly need to fuel up like there's no tomorrow, I'd be lighter and faster. Food is now mostly viewed as carbs, protein, or hydration. Things like taste, expiration dates, and "how old are these leftovers again?" are no longer relevant.

For an entire week, I went to Central Market for lunch (it's like a Whole Foods), and I'd get the same thing - a small salad from the salad bar, and a big tub of cottage cheese. I never ate so much cottage cheese in my life. After a week, the taste just got to me and I couldn't take it anymore. I took a week off, and darn if I didn't start yearning for that cottage cheese again! So back I went, and now it's a regular cheese on, cheese off, thing.

Alcohol is verboten too. That's usually not a problem as I'm not a big drinker. Of course, as soon as I took this stance, we had an obligatory client dinner at an old traditional steak house in Tampa last week. "Yes, I'd love an ice tea on the company nickel please". Then I followed that up with a wedding reception for S.'s cousin at the Four Seasons here in Dallas. "Yes, I'd love an ice tea from the OPEN BAR please. Make that two ice teas." %$!@^#*&!

In other news, summer is so over already. School started two weeks ago, and we now have two 6-graders who have moved up to middle school and a new kindergartner started in our old elementary school. Soccer, volleyball and gymnastics are back in full force. The local race season is heating up again too, but I'm not signed up for anything. Oh, except my first corporate challenge 5K coming up week after next. And possibly the Tour de Fleurs 10K/20K after that (yes, Susan, I'm still thinking about it!).

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


I was sitting in the plane last night when I felt a slight twinge in my forearm. A little leftover sting from last week. It suddenly dawned on me ... here's one good reason why my runs were so bad last weekend. What a week it was, that I even forgot I had donated blood on Thursday, had a rest day on Friday, and then attempted my pace run on Saturday morning. Duh! No wonder I was out of gas on that run!

I'm in San Francisco for a couple of days. There's a 3-mile EZ run in the plan for the morning. I'm hoping the red blood cells are back at full strength by then.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Speed Bump

Could it be there's trouble ahead? I said I would run Memphis for fun and as a tune-up to Disney, but I started my training plan gunning for a PR. No need to wait, trouble's already here ...

This is my 3rd week of training. My EZ runs and LSD runs have been workable, even it takes some effort to complete on time. My pace runs have been off the mark, and today, it was way off. It was only a 5-mile pace run. I had to stop 3 times during the run, which almost always never happens, and finally, I decided I was just plain out of gas.

It's been a tough week at work, and that might have had something to do with it. One of those weeks where on Monday morning, you're already wondering how in the world you're going to make it to Friday.

Or it could have been last night when I passed out around 8:00, and then was up at 2:00 am watching Hawaii 5-0 reruns from Netflix. It's amusing watching how they operated back then without cellphones, internet access, or A/C in their cars in Honolulu, all while wearing a suit and tie. Hmm, come to think of it, that theme song might not be a bad running song!

Anyway, one bad run does not a season make. I'll just keep plugging along. LSD run tomorrow; at a slow enough pace, I can go forever.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Just A Hunk, A Hunk Of Burning Love

I couldn't sleep last night. For a natural born sleeper who has logged many-a-hour asleep in taxis, buses, trains and countless planes, that was a rare occurrence. My mind was ablaze, my body was a wreck. Marathon training had commenced. 1 down, 17 weeks to go.

It should have been a simple enough week 1. Tue/Wed/Thu 3-5-3 EZ runs, Sat 5-pace run, and Sun 8-LSD run. The mind had to learn all over again that a 6:00am wake-up call cannot be snoozed away, no sirree, Bob ... not anymore. The body had to learn all over again that the mind is in charge and not the other way around. I've been eating like a horse and sleeping like a pig, but I still feel hungry like the wolf and I'm waking up tired as a dog! Is my mind playing tricks on me already? Is my running getting worse than my writing? Do I really want to go through with this?

Well, in a word, yes. That's exactly why I signed up. Otherwise, I'd be stumbling from one mediocre run to another. Week 1 shook the cobwebs off. I'm hoping week 2 will be better. I'll find out tomorrow at 6:00 am.

In the meantime, here's my new favorite running song, which is giving Rocky a run for it's money. Just what I need to get the heart pumping. Quite apropos for this time of year, don't you think?

Lord Almighty,
feel my temperature rising.
Higher, higher,
it's burning through to my soul.
Girl girl girl,
you've gone and set me on fire.
My brain is flaming.
I don't know which way to go.

Your kisses lift me higher,
like the sweet song of a choir.
And you light my morning sky
with burning love.

Ooh ooh ooh,
I feel my temperature rising.
Help me, I'm flaming,
I must be a hundred and nine.
Burning burning burning,
and nothing can cool me.
I just might turn into smoke,
but I feel fine.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Elvis To Mickey

It's time. Time to get disciplined. Time to get busy. Time to get up early and run. Time to shed a little dead weight. Marathon training begins next week. 18 weeks to Memphis.

It finally came down to Honolulu and Memphis, and Memphis won out. I was already in Hawaii this summer, and it just seemed a touch too far away to fly to go run one race. It'll always be that way, but maybe in a different year it won't seem so bad. It's a wonderful course, and I really would like to run it eventually.

Memphis is close by. It was my first out-of-town project when I started working many years ago, and it still has some sentimental appeal. Southern hospitality. Memphis charm. Beale street blues. I'll only need 15K frequent flyer miles to get there vs. 35K to get to Hawaii. Does Corky's BBQ qualify as pre-race carbo-loading?

With all the frequent flyer miles I save, it's almost enough to get me to Orlando, which is good because I just signed up for Disney. The half is already sold out, and with it the Goofy challenge. The full is at 85% capacity, which prompted my early registration. I'll have 6 weeks from Memphis to refresh and recharge.

I'm going to try and have fun with Memphis and use it as a tune-up. I won't worry too much about time in Memphis (famous last words), but it would be nice to PR at Disney. The old training plan from last year has been dusted off, and new run times have been calculated. I'm toying with a 13 minute improvement goal - that's only 30 seconds per mile - and then "rounded" that up to an even 15 minutes improvement goal. Does that sound reasonable?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Got No Rhythm

It's so good to be back home this weekend. I managed to run only once this week, partly due to the feeling that I spent half the week in the air. From 7:00 pm Wednesday until 1:45 am Friday, I tried to get from Minneapolis to Detroit. My connection in Chicago was cancelled, so I was re-routed to fly on Thursday through - of all places - Dallas. So I hopped off in Dallas and worked from home for a bit, and at least had a chance to see the family.

I ran Tuesday morning in St Paul, starting downtown and crossing over the Mississippi River just 3 blocks from my hotel. St Paul is not a bustling place. There was hardly anyone about, maybe because it was 6:00 am? Even so, I was out there until about 6:45 am and saw only one other runner.

I crossed over and there was a decent, if deserted, park on the other side. I ran along the river for a bit, past some obligatory river boat restaurants, and then turned around and headed back. I often use these runs to clear my head of work stuff that weighs me down, and it helped this time too but I could've used a few more miles to deal with this week!

I missed the Too Hot To Handle 5K/15K today in Dallas. S. is taking a yoga class all weekend long, so I'm in charge of the girls today and tomorrow. I've already lost the soda battle, and I'm pretty sure the defense is crumbling on ice cream or gelato, and behind that I see a pizza or two waiting to burst out. Maybe tomorrow morning I'd better get these girls out of the house and to the park to get moving!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Time To Move Along

Thank you all for your kind words and comments to my last post. From the time she first came home with us, Shari had been so much a part of the family for so long. It was very difficult last week, but it's much better now and we're moving along.

I tried running last week and it helped a little. It's been hot and muggy here when it's not actually pouring rain. I ran yesterday morning at 6:30 am and I almost couldn't even get through my usual 4 mile jaunt through the neighborhood. Marathon indecision is still ... undecided. I guess I'm waiting for divine intervention to show me the sign for Honolulu or Memphis or Disney or something!

On the good news front, I've discovered, well, good news. I've long since stopped paying attention to TV news, but it seems even online news is now just full of bad news. Doesn't anything good happen anymore? Well it does. Google "good news" and voila! Good News Network. It's a refreshing change.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Run Free

April 23rd 1992 - July 3rd 2007

Tears have flowed mightily today, but we know she is in a better place. I hope she is chasing rabbits to her heart's delight. I hope she has all the dog biscuits she can ever want. I hope the sun shines down on her every day. I hope she has green grass to roll around in, and a big comfy bed to sleep in each night. Most of all, I hope I'll see her again one day. Bye sweetie. We miss you.

Sunday, July 01, 2007


Ever since I didn't get into NYC, I've been struggling with which marathon to sign up for. When I didn't get in last year, I signed up immediately for Marine Corps, and ended up doing that and White Rock. I don't think I want to do either again this year - there aren't that many marathon miles in this old body to go around the circuit twice!

So here's the list of candidates and reasons for running them. They're all in the US, which means 25K American Aadvantage miles if I have to fly there (35K if Hawaii), or close enough to drive if in Texas.
  • 12/1/07 Memphis - BBQ! wet ribs baby!
  • 12/2/07 Vegas - it's now or never, time to do my Running Elvis thing?
  • 12/9/07 Honolulu - any reason to go back to the islands
  • 1/13/08 Disney - free room at my sister's place (I think)
  • 1/13/08 Houston - because it's there
  • 2/17/08 Austin - my alma mater

If I can get one in in December, I may just keep going and do another in January/February. Maybe I'm over-engineering this thing, but I've also got a few reasons to not do some of the races above. The message boards on Marathon Guide really ripped the Vegas race organizer a new one for inept execution; it's got me concerned enough to pass on it this year until they get their act together. I also know Disney is a pretty boring course too outside of the parks, but it is what it is; I'm not up for the Goofy challenge, but I wouldn't mind a Mickey Mouse medal.

Any suggestions about these races? Any ideas for others I should think about?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Just Run Where You Can, Eh?

From where I sit in my hotel room, I can see the Toronto airport maybe a mile or so away. Every few minutes, a plane flies overhead coming in for a landing, close enough that you hear it go ssssccrrrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeoooooowwwooosh, but at least the windows don't rattle. How nice.

I flew in last night, and I should've flown out tonight, but my flight got cancelled. I'm on a 7:10 am flight tomorrow morning to San Antonio, then I'm hopefully home tomorrow night. Today is S&S's birthday. Yes, I know, it's not a good thing to miss birthdays and holidays, and in their 11 years of existence, I don't think I've missed any. We celebrated a day earlier on Sunday with family, and they've had a friend and a cousin stay over the weekend and again tonight, so they've been in extended party mode for a few days now.

Back to running ... Toronto should be a nice place to run. I was here several years back with S. and remember the downtown waterfront area to be quite picturesque. Unfortunately, when I went out for a run this morning, the airport area was predictably much less scenic, unless you enjoy views of offsite rental car lots, highway interchanges, and fast food drive throughs. I did eventually reach a residential area, and it had a nice greenbelt that was deserted and peaceful. It was a nice change of pace and scenery. I got in about 4-5 miles and that was good enough for me.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

ShoeWash 5K

Well, actually, it was the Dadfest 5K yesterday. I was in my closet quietly getting changed when I heard the first drops of rain coming down. Big drops, still spaced far apart. Sydney was signed up for the 50 yd dash, for which she received her first running medal in this same race last year, but this year she was still sound asleep in our bed where she had sneaked in overnight. At the sound of rain, I decided to let her sleep in while I eagerly quickened my pace, grabbed by still mud-caked shoes from the Mango Madness run, and headed out the door.

I arrived at the race with about 15 mins to spare. It wasn't raining yet up there, but the PA announcer was already calling wave after wave of the 50 yd dash, trying the get the kids program done before the rain came down. He barely made it. After the last wave, he called the 5K runners to the start line, and as we did, the clouds let loose and it started raining buckets.

At that moment, you knew you were part of a special assembly, runners that step up when conditions threaten, runners that toe the line while spectators dash for cover, runners that run come hell or high water, and we were about to get a LOT of water. Or it's possible that we were just plain nuts.

You could feel a buzz of excitement as we all waited to start the race, hoping to not miss out on the rain. Cheers would sound out when the wind kicked in, or when the rain came down heavier for a moment. We needn't have worried, because all 400 of us ended up running in a constant downpour throughout the entire race. While some ran in the middle of the road, I and others happily ran along the side where the water was deeper and flowing fast toward the storm drains. I was running for pure fun and long ago decided that I wasn't going to run this one for time. I was going to stretch it out. I was going to get a shoe wash. I was going to get my morning shower. Before I knew it, it was almost over. I had barely broken a sweat :-) so I kicked it in and splish-splashed my way home in 26:07.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

It H.U.R.T.ed A Lot

Since the Hawaiian Half Marathon this past weekend was cancelled, I signed up for the only other race going on in town. It was an informal race, sponsored by the aptly named Hawaiian Ultra Running Team (H.U.R.T.), and yes it did.

The Mango Madness 10+ Mile Run is a trail run on the outskirts of Honolulu. I'd never done a trail run before, and now I know why. There were 30+ runners last year, and about double that this year. We started at a small innocent looking park, about half the size of a football field, set within a residential neighborhood.

As we waited for the 7:00 am start, it rained. After a few wise cracks from the race director Mike (shown above, photo courtesy of co-director Pete) about how the rain was providing ideal race conditions, there was a quick 3-2-1 and we were sent off.

We ran gently uphill on a paved road for about a half mile, and then we entered the Makiki Valley Trail. What started as a nice trail of small evenly crushed rock eventually got narrower, muddier, steeper, wildly uneven, overgrown with tree roots, and liberally plastered with rocks of all shapes and sizes. I had done 2 back-to-back 7+ mile runs earlier in the week, from Waikiki to Diamond Head, encircling Diamond Head crater and going back, but it didn't prepare me one bit for trail running. After 5 mins of this trail, most of it only 2-3 feet wide, I was breathing heavily and moving slowly. After 50 minutes of straight uphill, I finally broke out of the trail and onto a real paved road again.

Then it got worse. The next 15 minutes was on something the locals affectionately call "The Concretes". It's basically a poorly paved road that goes steeply straight up forever and ever and ever. No one around me ran it. We all walked it, and even that was difficult. I was managing about one and a half foot lengths with each stride, it was that bad. Did I mention it had rained several times since we started?

Anyway, an hour and change after the start, I finally reached the top of The Concretes and the midpoint of the run. From there, I entered another trail and it was all downhill, but not simpler. It was just as narrow, steeply declining, muddy etc. for a first time trail runner like me. I eventually finished the darn thing in 2:06, good for very close to the bottom of the barrel, but not rock bottom :-)

My vacation is over and I'm in transit in LAX on my way back to Dallas. The family units are staying a few more days in Hawaii. My calves and quads still hurt going up and down stairs, just like when I ran my first marathon. I've got some new found respect for trail runners, and I'm happy to stick to road running for now.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Diamond Head 10K

In years past, the good people of Hawaii lined up to run a half marathon last Sunday through the streets of Honolulu. I would have had the privilege of lining up with them too, if they hadn’t cancelled the event a couple of months ago. :-(

Instead, I lined up for my own 6-ish mile loop run, retracing a familiar path I took when we were here a couple of years ago. It’s one of my all-time favorite routes, and I couldn’t wait to get it going again. Starting at dawn, I ran on Kalakaua Avenue towards Waikiki Beach, which was already buzzing with activity. Dozens of surfers were already in the water at first light, and others were making their way down. Running through Waikiki, it’s always an eclectic mix of surfers, runners, mostly Japanese and American tourists, and local old-timers all drawn to this one spot on the map by some magical appeal.

From Waikiki, I ran through Kapiolani Park, a wide expanse of green grass and palm trees. Here you run into dozens of runners either coming or going to Diamond Head, and the occasional biker with a little something more than biking on their mind.

At the other end of Kapiolani Park is the beginning of Diamond Head Road. It’s only about a mile to the highest point that the road will take you, on a one lane road with private homes on the right and the hillside sloping up on the left.

When you get to the lookout point, that's when the run was all worth it:

I ran a similar route again this morning, but instead of starting out on Kalakaua Avenue, I started out on the beach. This is view from my start line, with my destination Diamond Head straight ahead.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Moonset over Maui

I ran one more time on Friday morning, getting out there by 5:15 am to catch the moon setting over the horizon. How was I to know that the lunar schedule varies widely from one day to the next? This time, the moon was still high in the sky, so I started running instead of waiting.

As I ran north towards Kihei again, I occasionally glanced back to see how the moon was setting. Over the next 20 minutes, the sun rose in front and to the right of me, while the moon set over my left shoulder.

In the last shot, the moon has settled into the hazy orange band above the horizon, and is barely visible about 1/3 of the way from the right edge. Back at my hotel, another beautiful day begins.

Thursday, May 31, 2007


It is just past 7:00 am as I sit down to write this. I’m counting my blessings as I look over the Pacific Ocean off the coast of West Maui. From my hotel balcony, I can see, hear, and smell the ocean. I can see past the manicured lawns of a little Hawaiian Wedding Chapel, where S. has taken the three little S’s for morning yoga by the beach. I can see runners on the beach, and along a path that connects several hotels here in Wailea. I don’t envy them, I don't wish I was down there too, 'cause I've already beaten them to it :-)

There was a brilliant full moon reflecting off the otherwise dark ocean when I got up at 4:30. I couldn't get back to sleep, so I quietly changed and left the room just past 5:00. It took a while to make my way downstairs and out, and I was just steps away from the sand when I noticed the moon dip below the horizon. Being on the west side, I won't see much of a sunrise, but I've never seen a "moonset" before; I made a note to try again tomorrow. This is a shot instead of Haleakala in the distance, the top still covered in clouds, no doubt already filled with eager but frigid tourists waiting to catch their moment of a Hawaiian sunrise above the clouds.
I ran north towards Kihei, staying on the beach as much as possible, and moving onto the concrete pathway only when I had to. The tide was low, and the waves crashed slowly and lazily onto the sand. I kept an eye out for seashells, which we collect in glass jars to mark our family vacations, but this area was completely free of any. After a couple of miles, from Wailea Beach, to Mokapu Beach, to Ulua Beach, the sand and the pathway ended at Keawakapu Beach.
Going back south, I ran past my hotel and kept on going. I had to stay on the pathway as there wasn't any beach to run on past the next hotel down. One more hotel after that, the pathway itself ended and I turned onto a residential street headed towards Makena. That didn't last long because of the road looking like this ... the street signs here don't say "limited sight distance" ahead, they say "NO sight distance" ahead! Not really runner friendly, is it?
I turned around one more time and headed home. The sunrise in the east started to make its presence felt, and there were a few more early birds making their way out. I ended my run back on Wailea Beach, the way I dreamed about doing months ago, alone in the water, floating along, pushed by the waves, staring at the blue sky above.
On a lighter note before I go, here's a special something from paradise for you ladies out there. Squeeze those cheeks and say "cheese"!