Sunday, July 31, 2005

Long Track Walk

Today I did my long walk at the track. I prefer the trails but because I need to be home early to take care of my wife and daughter while my wife recovers, I didn't want to waste time driving to the trail (the best trail is 40 minutes away). So I hit the track at 5:00 AM to avoid the heat and get in as much mileage as possible.

My goal was to stay below a 12:00 pace, and I ended up doing 11:43. Because of the Garmin I was able to stay very steady throughout the whole walk. Here are my splits:

13:08, 11:56, 11:49, 11:43, 12:30, 11:42, 11:44, 11:44, 11:44, 11:39, 11:48, 11:49, 11:49, 11:43, 11:48, 11:52, 12:11, 11:14, 10:33, 9:47!

Again I only carried water in my pack. I took two electrolyte caplets. I drank half a Big Red soda at each "aid station" break (two). I ate a Mojo Bar at the first break and some peanut butter filled pretzels and lemon drops at the second. As you can see in my splits, I was able to maintain pace the whole time and I was able to push hard in the last three miles. So maybe this approach to fueling and hydration is going to work out well for me.

This weekend provides a good contast between trails and tracks. Yesterday I did 22 miles at a 15:03 pace; today I did 21 miles at an 11:43 pace, a 3:20 per mile differential.

Good luck to everyone racing today: Jennifer, Dianna, and Annalisa.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

1:45 AM

That's what time the alarm went off this morning.  I dragged myself out of bed and was immediately glad I had prepared the coffee maker the night before.  I started the coffee, performed my daily ablution, dressed, ate a granola bar, loaded my gear in the car, prepared the coffee and was driving out my garage at 2:05.  Forty minutes later I was buying Big Red, water and ice.  Ten minutes later I'm standing at the North Shore Trail at Lake Grapevine with Deb and Brett.  I don headlamp, turn on flashlight, put on Camelbak and watch and hat.  At exactly 3:08:30 AM, we hit the trail.

Why so early?  Deb and I are training for the Heartland 100 and she is doing a 50 mile race in three weeks as a training race, so she wanted to start early to avoid the heat and get in 36 miles.  I joined her to also avoid the heat and to get in as much mileage as possible before heading home to take care of wife and daughter (yes, wife is finally home from the hospital!  More on that later).  Brett (training for his first 50k in November) also wanted to avoid the heat and enjoys running with Deb.  So we all three spent the morning together talking, running and walking, peeing, eating and drinking, and generally having a good time.

We had a good day on the trail.  It was relatively cool in the morning and didn't warm up too much by the time I left (9:10).  We saw some other members of North Texas Trail Runners and saw very few cyclists.  We saw an armadillo, an adolescent skunk, a jack rabbit.  We stayed together the whole time and didn't push too hard.  I had to leave by 9:10 in order to get home at the agreed upon time, so I only ended up doing 22 miles in 5:30, a 15 minute pace.  Brett's goal was to do 18, which he accomplished (he also did 18 last weekend).  Deb went on to do her 36 miles and is still out there as I write this.  It was a great way to start the weekend.

Angela finally got home Wednesday and is doing pretty well, all things considered.  She is getting home rehab and is as active as possible around the housel.  Her only problem is bending the knee--she can't bend it to the degree they would like.  She will keep working on it and there are some options if she can't get it done herself.  One option is that the surgeon would put her under and then force her leg to bend (OUCH!).  Hopefully it won't come to that.

That's all for now.  I hope to spend most of the day at home, working with my daughter on her reading and other skills so she'll be ready for school in two weeks.  Tomorrow I'll do about 20-22 miles at the track (I don't have time to drive to and from a trail two days in a row).

I forgot to update everyone on my nutrition and hydration experiments.   I have been avoiding Gels and energy drinks because, frankly, I am sick of them.  Today I carried water in my Camelbak.  I ate half a peanut butter sandwich, drank half a Big Red and ate a few pieces of candy orange slices at nine miles.  I ate the other half sandwich, drank the other half of the Big Red and ate a couple of peanut butter filled pretzels at 18.  I topped off my water both times.  I felt great for the whole walk.  I never felt a bonk or crash.  Also, I only took three Succeed caplets (in the past I would have taken between five and ten).

So far it seems that I can get enough energy and electrolytes from food and drink at "aid stations," supplemented with occasional electrolyte caplets.  I still keep Hammer Gel and Clip2 on hand in case it is needed, but so far it has not been.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Speaking of Goals, Here is Fat Man Walking

Speaking of walking across America, here is Steve Vaught, self dubbed "Fat Man Walking." Why is he walking across America?
I am going to walk across the United States from San Diego to NYC to lose weight and regain my life!

Normal people doing amazing things!

Saturday, July 23, 2005


I want to do something like this. One day.....
Run Willy Run
Run Across America 2004
Run Across America
Diabetes Run Across America
Run the USA
Running across America

Or a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail?
Or maybe a walk across Texas? I don't know if anyone's done that.

I'd like to have a big milestone goal out there staring me in the face, challenging me to push farther and harder. I'm going to pick something and work toward it....

Catching up

I haven't posted in a while because things have been so busy. Angela developed an infection in her knee and had to have a second surgery to clean it out. It was scary for a while watching her leg turn red and swell up, but now everything is back to normal and her leg looks good. The therapy is REALLY HARD and she's having to work extra hard to get back where she was before the infection. The bad news is that she is still in the hospital; the good news is that she should be home on Monday. She has already been in the hospital for 2 1/2 weeks! I'll be glad when she's home.

Since I'm temporarily a single dad I haven't been doing any training. That has been very frustrating, but I know it's temporary so I'm just trying to watch what I eat so I don't put on a bunch of weight. I feel like my past training was strong so I'm not too worried about the 100 miler in October.

One thing I'm very excited about: remember the all night training I did a few weeks ago with some friends who are also training for Heartland? Well, we are going to do a 100k training run/walk in mid-August. It will also be an overnight session (it's so much cooler at night and you don't have to deal with the sun beating on you for hours) on the same gravel roads we used for our all nighter. A few more people are going to join us for part or all of the night. So if you will be in Central Texas (Waco area) on Friday, August 19th, please come join us for some fun. We'll have plenty of snacks and drinks at our "aid station," so just bring your gear (don't forget a flashlight or headlamp). We'd love to have you!

Today, my daughter is going to a birthday party, I'm hoping to get a haircut, and I've got to clean up the house--my daughter is a horrible slob and things are a wreck. Hopefully I'll be back in training next week and next weekend will put in some good, long miles.

Happy training!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Google Maps the Moon???

Yes, you read that right. Google Maps on the Moon. Check this out. Very cool!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

URGENT - Your Bone Marrow Is Needed

I've just found out that Diem Tran, one of my customer's friends, has severe Aplastic Anemia and urgently needs a bone marrow transplant. Unfortunately she does not have a matched sibling and there was no match in the Bone Marrow registry; she's Vietnamese, which dramatically reduces her chances of finding a match.

If you are Vietnamese I implore you to join the National Bone Marrow Registry. All it takes is a simple finger prick and a small amount of blood to register. Your simple act might save a life. If you have any Vietnamese friends, encourage them to join, too.

Here is a link with lots of good information on how to join the registry and what happens if you are found to be a match.

EVERYONE should register!!!! But if you are Vietnamese the need is URGENT! Please help!

Update on Angela's Surgery

Angela's surgery was a success. She spent three days in recovery and then moved to the rehabilitation hospital. She should get out by Friday, and may even get out by Wednesday. She initially had a lot of pain and it took some effort to get it under control. We have to be very careful because she has lung/breathing problems as a result of her bone marrow transplant, and three times in the past she has stopped or almost stopped breathing due to excessive sedation/narcotics. So for a couple of days it was stressful, but now they seem to have a good drug combination that makes her tired but not "drugged."

Lela has been with relatives for almost a week, and I really miss her! Sunday I brought her home and she spent the day and evening with me. We went out to eat (Pei Wei) and got ice cream (Marble Slab), then we watched "The Two Towers" and spent time together. I can't wait until she's home again with us.

Today I did my first training since last Monday, and it sucked! I don't know why, I just had one of those lousy days. Even though I was walking on super-flat concrete it felt like I was walking uphill, and I had a lot of discomfort in my feet and ankles. I made the wrong-headed decision to walk on a concrete trail near my house; I wanted to walk ten miles and I thought it would be too boring to do it at the track. In retrospect, I wish I had gone to the track. Oh well, not every training day can be perfect.

Distance: 10.22 miles
Time: 2:02:05
Pace: 11:56

Monday, July 04, 2005

Reunited (and it feels so good)

The family finally got back today from Corpus Christi. They were gone 11 days, way too long. Tomorrow is the day before Angela's surgery so we'll be busy getting things ready (packing a bag for Lela to stay with Mammy, packing a hospital bag for Angela, etc.). I'm working tomorrow and then I'm off the rest of the week. If all goes well she will be home by the weekend.

This morning I did a long walk at Rowlett Creek Preserve. RCP is the closest trail to my house; it is primarily a mountain biking trail maintained by the Dallas Off-Road Bicycle Association. Because of the holiday it was packed; I had to keep stepping off the trail to let bikes pass. I don't really like this trail much because: 1. Too many bikes; 2. Tons of trash, the creek smells sometimes, it can be depressing and it makes you realize that one day we will destroy the Earth; 3. It has lots of short, steep up- and downhills that are probably lots of fun on bikes but not that great when walking/running. I enjoy long, challenging uphills, but these are not very satisfying. So I don't train on this trail very often but today I didn't feel like making the 35 minute drive to North Shore or the 45 minute drive to Cedar Ridge Preserve. That is my only dissatisfaction with our house; there are no trails nearby.

I'm revolting against gu (revolting is the perfect word in this context). I'm just sick of it and I can hardly bring myself to eat any (I normally use Vanilla or Espresso Hammer Gel during long walks). I hardly used any at all during my recent all night 12 hour walk, and I only used one serving during today's 4.5 hour walk. I also hardly used any electrolyte caplets. I've been eating and drinking more during the walk (I try to plan frequent trips to my car). Today I drank a Yoo-hoo, and I ate a Mojo Bar and some candy orange slices (I carried water in my pack, not energy drink). Friday night I ate a peanut butter sandwich, a pimiento cheese sandwich, lots of pringles, some jelly beans and candy orange slices, and I drank some Big Red and Coke (I carried some energy drink in my pack but refilled it with water during the night). I'm not sure exactly what's going on, but I don't seem to notice a lack of energy. I don't feel that I ever "bonked" and both today and Friday night/Saturday morning I've done some of my fastest miles in the last 1/3 of the walk. So I'm going to keep experimenting, but I may stop using energy gels.

Tomorrow I'll be up at 5:00 AM for the usual 6-10 miles.

I hope everyone had a nice holiday weekend. If you were racing, I hope you accomplished your goals and had fun at the same time.

Distance: 20.0 miles
Time: 4:31:37
Pace: 13:34

Friday, July 01, 2005

In the black of the night till the red morning light*

Last night was the first of what I hope will become an annual event. We didn't have a name but we debated names during the run: The Swat and Squat, The Scratch 'N Sniff, The Eat and Run, and so on. So I will unofficially dub this the first annual Swat and Squat 12 hour Eat and Run.

I left work a little early on Friday so I could get down to Waco, Texas and meet my ultra friends Frances and Marla by 7:00 PM and start our all night training run. That's Frances on the left and Marla on the right at Three Days of Syllamo.

We had been planning this event for more than a month. The three of us, along with a few other people we know, are training for the Heartland 100 in October. We wanted to get in some really long runs/walks in preparation, and I suggested we do one at night to practice night running. Frances did some reconnaissance and found the perfect place to train. She found some dirt and gravel farm roads in Mart, a little town northeast of Waco. The old farm roads are just like Heartland, only a little less hilly: dirt, gravel, rocks the size of grapes to small potatoes. It was almost an exact duplicate of Heartland. Here's a map of the course:

As I pulled up to the farm road where Frances was waiting for me, I swerved to miss a turtle in the road. There was a truck behind me and fortunately he missed it, too. After I pulled up next to Frances I ran back and moved the turtle off the highway. I certainly didn't want the little guy to get run over, and I thought it might bring us a little good karma for our run (plus, I can really relate to turtles!).

Frances and I drove to a central point and set up our "aid station." The route is a large H and the plan was to park in the center of the H and do a series of out-and-backs, always returning to our aid station. I met Frances' boyfriend Jim, who was really nice, and then the three of us took off (Jim ran the first six miles with us; then he followed us on bike for a while before calling it a night). Marla was going to join us in about an hour.

We came back to the aid station after about four miles. We got some snacks, picked up our lights because it was getting dark, then headed back out. As the sun was going down I was reminded of these lyrics from Johnny Cash:
With the twilight colors falling
And the evening laying shadows
Hidden memories come stealing from my mind.
As I feel my own heart beating out
The simple joy of living
I wonder how I ever was that kind.

But the wild road I was ramblin'
Was always out there callin'
And they said a hundred times I should have died.
But now my present miracle
Is that you're here beside me,
So I believe it was the road I was meant to ride

Like a Soldier by Johnny Cash

After about an hour and 15 minutes Marla called to say she was almost here so we headed to the aid station to meet with her. We spent some time there saying hi and catching up (Marla's boyfriend Kenny came, too) and setting up our food. Our aid station was as well stocked as some of those at SunMart! We had all of the following:
Coke, Mountain Dew, Big Red, Gatorade, Water
Pringles, Cheetos, Pretzels, Peanut Butter-filled Pretzels
Jelly Beans, candy Orange Slices
Peanut Butter Sandwich, Pimiento cheese Sandwiches (without Pimientos!), Turkey Sandwiches
Gel, electrolyte caps, etc.

You can see why I wanted to call it the Eat and Run! We had more than enough food, and we all agreed to stop frequently to refuel. This was not a race--it was an effort to get "time on our feet" and to have fun. If you count our aid station pit stops, the time we spent catching up and getting our final gear together when Marla arrived, bathroom stops and the occasional stop on the course just to get a breather, we stopped a total of 2 hours 9 minutes.

By this time it was dark so we all made sure we had our lights, changed the batteries on Frances' small light, then hit the road. We picked various legs of the H and did out and backs, coming back to the aid station about every 4-5 miles. The longest we were ever away from our cars was about 2 hours, and Frances and Marla both ran out of water shortly before we arrived back at our aid station, so I'm glad it wasn't any longer.

On the way back to the aid station a couple of guys in a pickup stopped to make sure we were OK (we only passed two vehicles the entire night). After we told them we were fine they told us to be careful because there are "hundreds" of wild pigs in the fields. After they drove away both Marla and Frances said they were full of &%$#! Frances lives in Mart, near our course, and both of them have lived in Waco for years, and they figured the guys thought we were city slickers and just wanted to scare us. Then I learned something about Frances I never knew: she won second place in a hog calling contest! So she regaled us with her best hog calls, piercing the night with "Soooooowieeeeeeee. Here pig, here pig, here pig, sooooooooooowieeeee!!!!" So if there were any pigs in the fields we would see them soon!

It was a moonless night for most of the evening, and the stars were just incredible. Being a ciy boy, I always forget just how impressive the stars really are. It just blows my mind to think of everything that is out there that we know nothing about.

Frances went through a manic phase at this point and just had so much energy. She would bound ahead and then walk and wait for us to catch up. She sang camp songs and Vacation Bible School songs. She skipped, she danced. It was some sort of crazy sugar high! Next we all told corny jokes. Here's my contribution:
Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot his whole life, which created an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him frail, and with his odd diet, he suffered from very bad breath. This made him a super-callused fragile mystic vexed with halitosis.

We had a lot of time, so we discussed a lot of stupid things. Marla wanted to know which "Wizard of Oz" character we would each be (I can't remember the consensus). Then Frances impressed us with her "Wicked Witch" voice which was dead on. Next we started talking about horror movies, especially "Children of the Corn" (we were surrounded by cornfields with plants taller than us), which of course spooked us all. Then Frances, who was a little ahead of us, started telling us the plot of the movie "From Dusk til Dawn" (appropriate, don't you think?). Marla told me to turn off my light and we hid on the side of the road. Frances turned around to look for us and saw nothing but pitch black! So the two of us had a good laugh at Frances' expense.

At about the halfway point we stopped at the aid station to doctor a blister on Frances' foot and then headed out again. More of the same--we all stayed together, usually with Marla or Frances in front and me bringing up the rear. Finally, around 3:00 AM, the moon came out, a little orange sliver behind a few wispy clouds. It was beautiful.

Marla is a vet and had to work on Saturday so we had to get back to our cars by 4:00. We got there a little before 4:00, said our goodbyes, then Frances and I started another leg. We were getting pretty tired but still had about 4 hours to go. Finally, around 5:15, the sky started to lighten almost imperceptibly. A little after 5:30 I could turn my light off. We made it to dawn, and that realization gave us a little extra energy!

I did a little math and determined that if we stayed at or below our current pace we could do 42 miles within our self-imposed 12 hour limit. Frances and I stopped to look at a water snake coiled around a tree in a pond. It didn't look poisonous (it was a long snake but had a small head that didn't have that distinctive viper shape) but it had diamonds like a diamondback rattler (but no rattle). I'm not sure what it was.

We got back to our cars with about 50 minutes to go until 12 hours. I convinced Frances to head out two more miles; after that the two final miles back would seem fast and easy because we would be eager to finish. So we headed out for the final four miles. I got that final burst of energy at the turnaround and made it back to my car and stopped my watch: 12:11:46 and 42 miles.

We kept a pretty decent pace throughout the night. If you divide the course into 6 seven mile segments, here were our average paces for each segment: 13:43, 13:24, 14:13, 14:31, 14:50, 14:06. If you add in all of our rest time our average pace was 17:25. If you subtracted the rest time our pace was 13:37. As a point of reference, my 50 mile PR pace is 14:09.

So it was a great evening! I am very tired but do not feel as sore or beat up as I would expect. Maybe my body is finally adjusting to the stresses of ultras.

We're talking about doing a 100k training night in August. We all like the idea of starting a little earlier, maybe 6:00 PM, and then going all night to avoid the heat and the sun. I'll post more details later, and if anyone reading this wants to join us (for a part of the run or for the whole thing) the more the merrier. We'll have more than enough food, and we might even manage to find some beer!

*Red Morning Light by The Kings of Leon.