Monday, November 29, 2004

Back in town

We spent the Thanksgiving Holiday in Corpus Christi, Texas, visiting relatives. We were very busy because one of our relatives is very sick and requires a lot of care, so my wife and I did everything around the house to give his caregiver a break. I only managed to do two walks, one of six miles and one of ten. But that's OK since I'm tapering for SunMart.

I hope everyone had a nice holiday weekend.

Sunday, November 21, 2004


This is the last weekend before I start my SunMart taper, so I wanted to put in some good mileage. I decided to try something that I've been meaning to do but have never been able to schedule: back to back 20 mile walks.

I went to the lake early yesterday and started walking just before 6:00 am. The day was great for walking: it was in the upper 50s/lower 60s and overcast; the forecast rain came later in the day, after my walk.

I felt a fair amount of discomfort during the walk (soreness in my legs and ankles) but I was able to walk through it and not slow down my pace; I kept a really even pace for the whole walk. I made two loops of the lake and included Loving Hill once in each looop. The lake trail was packed, as it always is on Saturdays, especially with all the competing marathon training programs (Luke's Locker, Train to End Stroke, Team in Training, Run On, Cross Country Club of Dallas). It reminded me why I like training on Sundays.

After the walk I went home, made a nice warm Latte and soaked in a COLD tub. BRRRRRR! Getting in was agony, but it felt great. I wonder if you guys in the North soak in cold tubs--I bet your water is twenty degrees colder than mine, at least. It would have been refreshing to drink, but not so great to sit in!

Distance: 21.4 miles
Time: 4:27:02
Pace: 12:29

Sunday was identical to Saturday. Same weather, started walking right before 6:00 am, same route around the lake, including Loving Hill twice. The second time was brutal--it was more of a stagger than walking. But I felt good throughout the walk and turned in some great times on the last two and a half miles, including 1.5 miles at about an 11:00 pace.

The lake was much quieter today. I really prefer Sunday training--it's nice not to have to deal with the crowds and the groups that like to run in a mob. Afterward I again enjoyed a Latte and an ice bath. It really helps with recovery--it's made a huge difference in my ability to recover quickly and keep training.

Distance: 21.5 miles
Time: 4:27:19
Pace: 12:27

After yesterday's training we went to see the Moscow Ballet's production of The Nutcracker. Today I'm taking Lela to Chuck E. Cheese. All in all, good training and good quality time with the family.


Clif Bar has come out with two seasonal flavors: Spiced Pumpkin Pie and Caramel Apple Cobbler. I haven't tried the Pumpkin Pie, but the Caramel Apple Cobbler is wonderful! It tastes great. I ate one during my walk today and really enjoyed the flavor.

If you like Clif Bars, check this one out.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Rockledge Rumble Pictures

You can see pictures of the Rockledge Rumble here. I am bib 168. There really aren't any good pictures of me but there are good pictures of the trail and other racers. It was a great day for a race.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Next race

I registered for SunMart yesterday--50 miles. It's only 27 days away! SunMart is one of the biggest ultras in the country. It's also supposed to be a pretty easy ultra--few hills, a rooty but otherwise not too difficult trail. This is good because the 50 mile race has a 12-hour time limit. Since my Heartland time was 12:34:37 I'll need to keep a faster pace to make it under the limit. But I think that the fact that the trail is easier and less hilly, plus my ongoing distance training, will help me meet this challenge. I felt great for 33 miles at Heartland--I think the hills and my failure to eat enough or take gel is what made the last 17 miles so slow. This time there will be no hills and I will definitely eat; people joke that SunMart is the only ultra where you actually gain weight during the race (SunMart is supposed to have phenomenal aid stations). Also the course is four 12.5 mile loops so I will have frequent access to my supplies and snacks.

So basically it will be a challenge, but I'm ready to take it on. I know a lot of other walkers doing the 50k and one doing the 50 miler, and one of the walkers is setting up her own canopy where we can leave our stuff and socialize, so I think it's going to be a GREAT race.

20 miles, hills and no rain

The forecast called for rain today but there was none while I was walking, so it was a perfect day for a walk--50 degrees and overcast. I wanted to walk the trails at Lake Grapevine today but it rained yesterday so I thought they'd be too muddy for a good walk. Instead I walked at White Rock Lake on the asphalt trail and neighborhood streets around the lake. I threw in as many hills as I could--five repeats of a short hill at the beginning of the walk, then five repeats of Loving Hill right in the middle, then a couple more repeats of the short hill before arriving back at my car. I felt a lot of discomfort in my ankles but I still kept a decent pace. Overall it was a good walk and now I feel relaxed and pleasantly tired. I've got some work to do today (which raises the question, Why am I blogging instead of working!?) so the wife and daughter went to the movies and a craft fair. My goal is to finish my work so we can spend the afternoon and evening together.

Last night we went to Medieval Times as a special treat for my daughter because she was good at school. Medieval Times is not one of my favorite places but she loves it! She wore her Halloween costume, a medieval princess, and of course got lots of attention. She had a great time, and that's what matters.

Distance: 20.00 miles
Time: 4:04:20
Pace: 12:13


This is the face of guts. Chris just knocked down a really difficult marathon, and did it well. Go read about it here.

Lung Transplant Recipient to Racewalk Marathon

This is an incredible story. A man who received a double lung transplant is racewalking his first marathon; he will be accompanied by the father of the 14 year old daughter whose lungs were donated. It's such a difficult story to read--there is so much pain in the world, but it is always so amazing when people can draw some strength from the pain. The story also reminds me of my wife, who has an emphysema-like condition due to her bone marrow transplant and who had two hip replacements due to long-term steroid use (just like the transplant recipient in this article). Life is so tenuous. I hope everyone spends some time with their families today.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Unexpected Tempo Training

Today I went out to do an easy 6+ miles; this was my first walk since the 50k on Saturday.

My normal route is to walk about .55 miles to the track near my house, then do 5 miles on the track, then .55 miles back home. Normally the first half mile is pretty slow as I warm up and work out the kinks. But today I looked at my Garmin and noticed that I was doing an 11:30 mile. That's not very fast for me, but it is faster than normal for the first warm up half mile. Once I got to the track I kept a nice steady pace; I didn't push very hard, but I did try to keep a strong form and quick step. My first mile on the track was 10:30! I was really surprised--this is almost equal to my half marathon PR pace (10:24).

I just kept walking at a strong pace, not really knowing what to expect. My next mile was 10:11!! This is faster than my 15k PR pace (10:15). Well now I was intriguted to see how fast I could go. I was really surprised by the speed because I was still in "recovery" mode after the 50k.

My next three miles were 9:41, 9:51, 9:44!!! Better than my 5 mile, 8k and 5k PR paces. If this had been a race I would have beat my 5k PR!

So wow, I don't know what to say. I know a fellow racewalker who always talks about the theories of a German physiologist (named Von Aachen?? I don't know the spelling) who expounded on the benefits of Long Slow Distance for both speed and endurance. I guess the long distances, plus the difficult terrain of the trails, has strengthened my leg muscles and increased my foot turnover. I also think the difficult trail terrain has strengthened my feet and ankles and given me a more powerful toe off, which is a significant aid in racewalking.

So for all you speed hounds out there, don't neglect LSD. It just might make you faster!

Distance: 6.15 miles
Time: 1:03:53
Pace: 10:23

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Worldwide Running Blog Map!

Mark has put together a REALLY cool world map where he will post the locations of all running and walking bloggers. If you'd like to participate, read his instructions here.

Check it out, it's pretty cool!

Rockledge Rumble Results

The official results were sent out to the ULTRA mailing list (they aren't posted to the web yet). I finished 45th out of 60. I seem to consistently finish toward the top of the final third of the pack! I gained ground as the race progressed--at the 9.5 mile turnaround I counted 10 runners behind me. I moved up two places sometime in the afternoon, then passed three more in the last few miles. I'm happy with that result. I can't wait until the next one--I'm thinking of doing the 50k at Bandera. It's supposed to be a really tough course (you can see a photo essay here) so I'm interested to see how I can do.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Rockledge Rumble 50k

Yesterday I raced in my first 50k, the Rockledge Rumble. The race is run on the North Shore Trail at Lake Grapevine. It is a wonderful trail but very rugged--lots and lots and lots of hills, loose rock, roots, boulders.

The race was put on by the North Texas Trail Runners and it was very well organized. There is a 50k, a 25k and a 10k. I was originally registered for the 25k but in a moment of foolish optimism I changed to the 50k the morning of the race.

We started at 7:30 and as we left the start area I overheard a spectator say to a friend, "There go the crazy people." I thought that was a good start to the race.

I decided not to use my Garmin Forerunner during the race because the last time I used it on this trail I lost signal frequently. Since the mile markers on the trail are not reliable and are often missing, this meant I really had very little way to pace myself. I made an attempt to gauge my pace from the locations of the aid stations, but it was too hard to do the math when I was so exhausted. So basically I just walked the best I could and didn't worry too much about pace or time; I knew I could finish within the 8:30 time limit.

Yesterday was not the best day for an ultra. The sun was out and bright all day and the temperature got up to about 80 degrees. Luckily I had lots of liquid with me and my Succeed caps. The aid stations were well stocked with water, HEED energy drink (I don't recommend it but it didn't make me sick) and Coca Cola. They also had the usual fare--animal crackers, potato chips, M&Ms, salty snack mix, etc. I also had a Clif Bar with me and Hammer Gel.

The course for the 50k was out and back on the full trail (about 19 miles), then through the starting area and back out for a 12 mile loop on the trail. It was very hard to walk through the aid station at the start/finish area and not just stop! Also, the turnaround was at the top of a flight of stairs (stairs! After 19 miles of jumping and scrambling and falling and skipping I had to climb a flight of stairs! How cruel!) so I was even more tired once I got there and didn't relish the idea of going back down.

I spent most of my time on the course alone, which is how I prefer it. A couple of times I walked with a few runners and we struck up brief conversations. I was right behind one woman whose significant other met her every chance he could (we crossed a few roads on the course) and cheered her on--it was awesome and very touching!

I was really flagging during the last ten miles and had to slow down. One bad thing about an out-and-back course is that every hill you go down on the way out you will have to climb on the way back, so you know exactly what you are in for. As I started the second loop I knew I would have to do it all again, and I wasn't sure I could. It was about that time that I started eating some Hammer Gel. Lately in my training I've been avoiding Gel. I don't know why, except that I wasn't sure it was making a difference in my performance. But now I'm convinced that it can make a huge difference. As I mentioned above, I was slowing down and very tired on the last loop. I started eating Gel, and with about 4 miles left I got a huge surge of energy--and I mean huge!

The first (and last) aid station is 3.1 miles/5k from the start so I could use it for pacing. My first 5k split was 37:58. My last two 5k splits were 39:26 and 39:13. This is certainly not lightning fast, but I think it's pretty strong for the last 10k of a 50k race. During that last 10k I passed three runners who had past me earlier in the race. I felt like I did at the beginning of the race--I was jumping and leaping up the hills and running down them. Even the pain in my back and ankles had subsided. I can't be 100 percent certain that the Gel made the difference but I didn't make any changes to my eating or drinking habits other than eating Gel toward the end.

I'm going to try eating more gel in my next few training sessions and see if I can tell a difference. Whatever powered those last 10k, I hope I can find it and harness it again in the next race.

The end was somewhat anticlimatic. I climbed the stairs again, but right as I was finishing there was another runner (a man in his 50s or 60s) who was having some medical trouble so I just crossed the line and got out of the way. Fortunately he just needed an inhaler and he was fine. Because of the commotion I didn't get my finisher's awards so I waited until things calmed down and went back up to the finish line. The main award was a baseball cap with the race logo and "50k Finisher" emblazoned on it. It has quickly become my favorite hat! I wanted to sleep in it but my wife wouldn't let me.

Because of the finish line confusion I don't know if anyone recorded my finishing time. But I don't care what the official results say--I know how I did, and that's all that matters to me.

If you are looking for a fun, challenging, well organized 50k, I would definitely try this one. I'm planning to do it again next year on the 10th anniversary--the race director said it will be a special race.

Distance: 50 kilometers
Time: 7:21:48
Pace: 14:13

I'm back

Hi, everybody. I'm back after my little break. Thanks for all the comments on my last post. I'm glad you guys find my blog interesting.

I'll offer a little explanation about my last post. I found that two things were starting to cause me problems:

1. I was spending way too much time on the computer, both at work and at home, reading blogs and the news. Some of this was natural (the election was only days away) but I was really concerned that I was going to find myself in trouble at work if I didn't get more productive, and I definitely wanted to spend more time with my family and less time with my laptop.

2. The news and political blogs I was reading were starting to become an emotional and spiritual drain on me. I use the word "spiritual" not in the religious sense, but simply to say that they were a source of negativity that was starting to become depressing.

To solve these problems, I'm taking an extended vacation from the news, politics and political blogs. I use Bloglines to read all my favorite blogs, so I've deleted all my subscriptions except for my favorite blogs in the RBF. Politics is important, but right now the tone in the U.S. is so negative and dishonest (on both sides of the political spectrum) that I'd rather save my personal energy for my family, my interests and volunteer work. I'm exploring several alternatives and will let you guys know when I settle on a plan. I was hoping to coach walkers in the Special Olympics but the local chapters don't have a walking team. I'm also exploring helping with the National Marrow Donor Program or Team in Training, and I've accepted a position on the board of the PTA at my daughter's school. So those things, plus ultrawalking, should keep me busy.

Thanks to everyone for continuing to read my blog and encourage my efforts. It's crazy to think that you strangers keep coming back to read my random thoughts. I really do appreciate it.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Off the grid

Hey everybody, I'm out of here for a while, taking a break from blogging. I've enjoyed reading about everyone's successes, struggles, thoughts and concerns. It's a crazy world out there, and it's not getting any saner, so be careful and have fun.