Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Save your pennies! October 5th will be a great day!

Two of my favorite artists have new albums coming out on October 5th!

Tom Waits will release all new material on Real Gone. Tom Waits is the Alpha and Omega of all music cool and innovative. His recent albums have been almost flawless and incredibly diverse.

Anti records will also release the last album recorded by Elliott Smith before his suicide. from a basement on a hill has 15 songs, including two of my favorites, "Pretty (Ugly Before)" and "A Distorted Reality is Now a Necessity to be Free."

Best of all, they are being released the Tuesday before Heartland so I can buy them and listen to them on the long drive to Kansas!

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Tried something different today

Since I'm tapering for Heartland I'm not doing any difficult workouts. But I still want to walk, both to maintain my weight and for the enjoyment of it. So today I tried a slightly different workout. Instead of planning a set distance, I set my Garmin Forerunner to alert me after 1 hour 20 minutes. My plan was to walk to the track and around the track for 1:20, then walk back, giving me about 1:28-1:30 of walk time. I also turned off the auto-lap feature of the Forerunner.

Then I started walking. I didn't look at my watch; I didn't monitor my distance or pace. I just walked until Garmin told me I had hit 1:20, then I walked home. I thought this would be good mental training for Heartland; I don't want to spend 50 miles and 11 hours staring at my watch every five minutes. Interestingly I really enjoyed the walk. I don't listen to music while I walk so I just spent 1:30 thinking, about work, about the race, about goals, about the family, about anything. A great way to clear my mind and enjoy the physical activity without the stress of laps, pace, etc.

Distance: 7.21 miles
Time: 1:28:03
Pace: 12:12

Sunday, September 19, 2004

50 km at Goal Pace; Time to Taper

Today was my last long walk before Heartland. My goal was to do 30+ miles at my race pace. I've decided for Heartland that I will try to maintain 13:00 minutes per mile pace, plus I'll take approximately 35 minutes of breaks at the aid stations. That's 10:50 of walking, with a finish time of 11:25. The cutoff is 12:00 so I think that will give me plenty of time.

My biggest trouble today was going slow! I had a really hard time going 13:00 mpm; I only walked 5 miles over 13:00; I walked one under 12:00 and a lot between 12:00 and 12:30. My overall pace was 12:38 so that's pretty close. At least I know I can slow down and still stay on track.

For the next three weeks I'm going to take it easy. I'm still going to walk 4-5 times a week for the next two weeks, but the walks will be slower and shorter. The last week I may walk Monday, then not at all until Tuesday. This will be my longest taper ever but I think I need it. I was pretty sore by the end of the walk today so I need to get over that and build back my strength.

I hope everyone had successful training or races this weekend.

Distance: 31.1 miles
Time: 6:33:08
Pace: 12:38

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Nice weekend so far

We've had great weather here in Dallas and I took advantage of it. Yesterday my daughter and I went geocaching. I heard about geocaching by reading Jon's blog and Flashes of Panic. It's basically like a "treasure hunt" or scavenger hunt with GPS (if you're interested there's a lot of great information on the Geocaching website). I thought it would be a good activity for my daughter and me, a good way to get outdoors and get her used to exploring slightly unknown areas. We didn't go any place exotic--all of the caches were within two miles of our house, and one was in the very park where she plays. But it's interesting that normally we stick to the sidewalk and the marked areas and never venture off anyplace unusual. Geocaching encourages us to explore. I'm excited about a series of caches I read about yesterday--there are 6 caches along the DART red line light rail. I'm a big fan of mass transit (both as an environmental issue and as a cool thing to enjoy--I have a Master's degree in Urban studies) and I've taken my daughter out on the buses, trains and trolleys here in Dallas, so I think we'll really enjoy a cache hunt combined with light rail.

After the cache hunt (we found three of the four we were hunting) we ran our normal weekend errands (Whole Foods Market, Tom Thumb, etc.) and we all spent the evening together at home. I made Bar-b-que'd Sweet Plantains for dinner, then my wife and I fell asleep watching Full Metal Jacket (we're both huge Kubrick fans and like all of his films except Eyes Wide Shut).

Today I walked on a trail I had never walked before, the Rowlett Creek Preserve. It's primarily a mountain biking trail maintained by DORBA. It's a good trail with a lot of variety (some nice dips and hills, some smooth and easy sections, lots of shade) but since it's more urban than the North Shore of Lake Grapevine there was a lot more trash around the trail and in the creeks; it was kind of depressing. I wanted to do some trail walking but I didn't want to push too hard since I need to start tapering for Heartland, so I just walked all of the loops once, completing almost 11 miles. My pace was fairly slow because I stopped frequently to enjoy the wildlife: lots of large spiders, a baby snake, some turtles in the creek, etc. I will probably walk this trail again since it is only 15-18 minutes from my house, but I prefer North Shore and will probably spend more time there. North Shore is also a more challenging trail so it will provide better training; I think I spent about 30-40% of my time at North Shore jumping, hopping, running up hills, etc.

For the rest of the day we are just going to prepare for the week: laundry, cleaning, etc. I've got to make a quick trip to San Antonio Monday night, coming back Wednesday night. I'm also going to start planning my gear for Heartland. I'll post more information soon about the race, the aid stations, the route, etc. One bad thing is that there is a high probability of flat tires for crews, so my wife and daughter will probably not crew for me at the race. They will be there when I start and finish, but my wife is not physically able to replace a tire due to her reduced long capacity so it's too risky to ask her to crew for me.

I hope everyone is having a great weekend and great racing/training!

Saturday, September 11, 2004

New blogger from Iraq

Here is a blog from a running member of the U.S. military in Iraq. Interesting reading. Go back to some of the first posts in June
to learn a little more about him and his history.

Friday, September 10, 2004

More flip flops than John Kerry

Just kidding! I'm a Democrat (actually I'm left of the Democrats) but I'm not a big fan of Kerry. I do think the charge of flip flopping is unfair (considering how much the world has changed in 30 years, I would expect someone's views to change).

Anyway, this isn't a political post. I'm doing the 50 mile ultra in Kansas. I know, I know, I said I wasn't. I've been struggling with my goals and my purpose lately. Not in a bad way--struggling is probably not the best word. Exploring, considering, pondering, wondering, hoping. What I've finally decided, for the time being, is this:

1. I like being outdoors, I like trails, I like the variability and unpredictability of trail walking.
2. I want to be outdoors for longer periods. I don't like short races.
3. I want to explore other outdoor/endurance activities, such as fast packing/ultralight backpacking. I want to do some of these activities with my daughter.
4. I want to forget about pace, time, ranking, etc. I want to get outside and move and enjoy it.

So I decided to go ahead and go to Kansas and put my ass on the trail and see what happens. I'm not going to do the 24 hour track race. I'm going to focus on trails, some ultras and some shorter distances, and I'm going to learn about hiking, backpacking, primitive camping, fastpacking, etc. I'm a city boy. I don't know anything about the outdoors or survival or camping. But I want to know. I want to walk away from the world for several days with just a pack on my back. I want to introduce my daughter to a world beyond cars and concrete and work. I know this all sounds weird and hopelessly romantic, but this is what is inside of me right now. I'd like to go on some exciting adventure with my daughter when she is older, like hiking the Appalachian Trail or hiking in some remote spot overseas or something else crazy and adventurous!

So my plan is to race in the Heartland/Spirit of the Prairie 50 mile race on October 9th. I've also signed up for the Rock Ledge Rumble, a 25k trail race here in the Dallas area. After that I don't know what I'll do, and I don't care. I will probably explore more of the local trails and spend some time just enjoying the outdoors and my own movement. I just want to have fun, to feel fit and to feel challenged.

Thanks to everyone for their recent suggestions and support. I'm excited!

Coincidentally, I made this decision yesterday and booked a hotel. Today in the mail I got my race packet. I feel like everything is meant to be. Our hotel is in El Dorado, which is mentioned in one of my favorite poems ("Wichita Vortex Sutra" by Allen Ginsberg) which was then made into one of my favorite musical works (the poem read by Ginsberg himself with piano accompaniment by Philip Glass). Here's a good excerpt (curse blogger for removing the formatting!):

Let the States tremble,
let the Nation weep,
let Congress legislate its own delight
let the President execute his own desire -
this Act done by my own voice,
nameless Mystery -
published to my own senses,
blissfully received by my own form
approved with pleasure by my sensations
manifestation of my very thought
accomplished in my own imagination
all realms within my consciousness fulfilled
60 miles from Wichita
near El Dorado,
The Golden One,
in chill earthly mist
houseless brown farmland plains rolling heavenward
in every direction
one midwinter afternoon Sunday called the day of the Lord -
Pure Spring Water gathered in one tower
where Florence is
set on a hill,
stop for tea & gas

Check out this blog!

Check out Tales of slow, brave Athena. What an athlete! And what an attitude! Go, Athena. You're an inspiration!

Thursday, September 09, 2004


I wrote two posts on Tuesday and I thought they were lost. They never showed up on my blog and I got a "Page Not Found" error when I tried to post them.

Well, now they are here! I don't know how or why, but I guess Blogger finally posted them.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004


Last night I wrote a long post about walking in marathons, based on this article from Runner's World. Then Blogger lost it. I don't have the energy to rewrite it.

Then I overslept today! I will probably only be able to train one day this week (tomorrow) because Tuesday was a rest day, I overslept today, and Friday I feel like I should take the day off before the 5k on Saturday. Oh well, it is what it is. I also feel like my cold is coming back, so maybe it is better that I didn't walk today.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Runner's World article on Marathon Walkers

Chris Brogan pointed me to this article in the current Runner's World. I had heard that someone was writing an article through the Yahoo! Marathon Walkers group but I hadn't seen it yet.

My first thoughts on reading it:

1. It doesn't really apply to me. While I'm no elite racewalker, I can compete with a fair number of runners out there and don't want to finish at the back of the pack any more than runners do. I'm out there to compete and push myself, even if I'm only competing against me.

2. Most of the complaints about walkers have to do with race etiquette, not walking in and of itself. There are plenty of people (runners and walkers) who line up at the front when they shouldn't, or congregate together and block the path. Walkers are only more visible and an "easy" target for complaints.

3. This is more of a problem in these large, mega-events. In the few large events I've done the start has always been crowded, confusing and frustrating, no matter where you start. I often have to dodge around people (and people often have to dodge around me) because of the sheer number of participants. This is one reason why I much prefer smaller races, especially 100-300 people.

4. I completely respect the position of the race directors. They have to make money or the events we all love will go away. I feel that they should set reasonable limits on their events and expect that the participants will manage themselves and their own capabilities. There is a large market in walkers so some events will naturally cater to that crowd. But there is nothing wrong with an RD who puts a 6 hour or 5 hour limit on the race. In racewalking I've seen some shorter races (mile, 5k) that told you not to show up if you couldn't keep a certain pace (and they were paces I could not maintain) so this is not exclusive to running.

All in all it was a pretty balanced article that I'm sure will receive a lot of feedback. I don't think there is any reason that walkers and runners can not coexist. They are each trying to accomplish something different. Think about trail runners, mountain bikers and hikers. When I recently walked the North Short of Lake Grapevine, I was very proud to complete the out-and-back in a little under four hours. A mountain biker could probably finish in 1-2 hours; a good trail runner is 2-3; a hiker in 7-8. Each of us sought something different out of the same route. I don't compare myself to runners because we are in different sports, just like a road cyclist shouldn't compare him/herself to a runner.

There was only one quote that bothered me, by Bob Glover, author of The Competitive Runner's Handbook: "Now they just go out and do it because they're told they don't have to run it, they can walk it. It's a cop-out for an underachieving society." That is an unnecessarily harsh and unfair statement. Someone who walks a marathon has achieved something! Most people, even most reasonably fit people, could not walk 26.2 miles. It is an achievement. Like I said above, it is a different achievement. I doubt any of these eight hour marathoners count themselves in the same "league" as the elites like Bob (jerk). I am totally in awe of olympians, elite marathoners, ultramarathoners. But I'm still working my butt off to be better and faster and stronger and healthier. To criticize my effort is to criticize amateurism in general. Should only superstars play basketball? Should only prodigies play the violin or the electric guitar? Should I stop playing chess? Or better yet, should I tell my daughter to stop learning chess if it becomes apparent that she will never be a Chess master? ARRGH! I have to stop before I get more angry!

Since I'm on this topic, I did receive an interesting comment during my race yesterday. I usually negative split my races because it takes me a little while to warm up. Therefore I usually pass a few people during the race. Yesterday was no exception--I probably passed 10 people in the last half of the race and was only passed by one.

Right before the turnaround I passed a woman who said, "I thought this was a running race." She immediately said, "Just kidding," but she didn't really sound like she was kidding. She might have been. Or she might have felt discouraged that a mere "walker" was passing her. Who knows.

In the last mile of the race a woman who passed me said, "I've been so impressed with you for the last few miles. Good job!" Mostly I've met with tons of encouragement and nice comments, even from people I'm passing.

So much of someone's attitude toward walkers depends on one's attitude in general. That's the main lesson I've learned. What do you think?

Monday, September 06, 2004

Rainy, Messy Labor Day 15k

Today I returned to racing on a wet and rainy Labor Day. My wife had some insomnia last night so I ended up waking up at 4:30 and never going back to sleep (it's hard to sleep when someone is watching "The Shining"!). I was reading the news on the internet and relaxing when I heard the sound of very loud and hard rain! I hadn't checked the weather in a few days so I wasn't expecting rain. Luckily it slowed down by the 7:30 start; it lightly rained about half the race and then stopped for the other half.

My legs felt pretty heavy and slow during a lot of the race. I think that might be because I didn't train at all last week; I took an unprecedented seven day break from racewalking. But I still had pretty decent times, a negative split and a PR. I had one really slow mile in the middle (mile 6) but that was mostly due to slowing down at an aid station and adjusting one of my safety pins that was starting to rub uncomfortably. My splits were: 10:22, 10:22, 10:22, 10:09, 10:12, 10:34, 10:11, 10:15, 10:15, 3:12. My previous PR was 1:38:20 (10:33 pace) so I trimmed almost three minutes off my previous best and 18 seconds per mile off the pace. I think if we had had dry weather I could have done even better.

Distance: 15 kilometers
Time: 1:35:37
Pace: 10:15/mile

I'm planning to race in a 5k next weekend (9/11, the Freedom Run). I'm hoping to set a PR but since I haven't been doing any speedwork that may not be possible. I thought I could go faster today but never got below 10:09/mile, so I may not be able to push the pace below my current 5k PR of 10:08. I am planning to do some speedwork on Wednesday so maybe that will remind my legs what it feels like to go fast!

Happy Labor Day and happy racing/training to all the other bloggers out there.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Big news

It was on June 8 that I announced my intention to race in a 24 hour ultra. Today, I'm announcing that I've changed my mind and I'm cancelling my plans. I've decided that I just don't want to push myself that hard right now. As Chris Brogan mentioned in one of his comments, this is supposed to be fun, but it's not fun for me right now. I'm burning the candle at both ends to get in my miles and it's starting to catch up with me. I've been sick since Sunday and haven't walked at all since then. I've decided that for the time being I want to work on speed and I want to RACE! I'm tired of walking at a 12:30 to 13:00 minute per mile pace when I know I can do 9:20 to 10:20.

It's funny but this hasn't been a difficult or agonizing decision. I'm tired of walking slow, I'm tired of not racing, I'm tired of being sore all the time, I'm tired of walking myself to the point of exhaustion and pain each Sunday. Once I decided this isn't what I want to do right now I felt much better. I'm really excited and already have some race plans.

If I can get over this cold I'm going to race in the Labor Day 15k on Monday, then the Freedom Run 5k on 9/11. Then I might do the Lost Dog 20k on October 10, and the Dallas White Rock Half Marathon on November 7.

I'll probably do a 5k race in November, along with the Turkey Trot, then finally I'll Run the Rock in the Dallas White Rock Marathon. Last year I did the half and I've always wanted to do the full marathon. This is Dallas' premier marathon and always draws a large crowd.

So that's my news. Thanks to everyone for their comments, thoughts and encouragement. I'm excited and and glad I made this decision. I'm looking forward to training again and hope to set some PRs in my upcoming races. After all, I have been walking 50-70 miles per week, so that's got to help my strength, endurance and speed. If I spend some time focusing on speedwork I hope to get my pace below 9:00 per mile on some shorter races. I'm not there yet, but that will be my new goal.

Happy running and walking!