Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006 Year in Review - A Year for Rebuilding

Well, it's that time again, time to review what happened in 2006. (Here are my summaries of 2004 and 2005).

Miles walked: 1,347.1
Time spent walking: 11 days, 2h 24m 19s.
Average pace: 13:24/mile

Number of races: 5
Shortest race: Bunny Boogie Fun Run 5k
Longest race: SunMart 50 mile
Fastest pace: 10:01/mile (Bunny Boogie Fun Run 5k)
Slowest pace: 13:27/mile (SunMart 50 mile)
PRs: 5k, Marathon, 50 mile
DNFs: 0
DNSs: 2 (Rocky Raccoon 100 [flu], Houston Ultra Weekend 24 hour [death in family])

Miles cycled: 914.4

Well, this is not a great report, but it is what it is. I had a hard time getting my year started and encountered some difficulties early on that made my training suffer. In 2004 and 2005 I walked over 1,800 miles, but this year I only walked 1,300.

But I was able to turn it around and got in some good miles in the last half of the year. I also PR'd at the marathon and 50 mile distances. And, as I had hoped, I got a bike and rode almost 1,000 miles, most of them to and from work. So this was a year to regroup, refocus and rebuild. I feel good about my results in the second half of the year, and I look forward to seeing what the new year brings. My big goal for 2007 is to finish my first 100 mile trail race, the Heartland 100 in October. This was also my goal last year but I just couldn't train for it the way I needed to, so I never registered.

I hope everyone had a great year and has an even better 2007!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

SunMart 2006 Race Report

Super Long! Make sure you've had your morning coffee:

This was my third SunMart, and only my second ultra since last year's SunMart. Winter was hard on my training (serious case of the flu, two deaths in the family, extremely busy at work) and I had decided for a time to give up ultras. But eventually those thoughts faded and I realized how much I enjoyed the distance, the trails and the camaraderie of ultras. I completed my third Rockledge Rumble 50k in November, then geared up for SunMart.

I had to attend my company holiday party the night before the race (I'm not a big fan of office parties and was dreading the event). I had hoped to leave Dallas around 9:00 PM for the three hour drive to Huntsville. Unfortunately that was unrealistic and I didn't leave town until about 10:45, arriving in Huntsville around 1:45.

On the way I was bored and didn't feel like listening to any music so I scanned the AM frequency looking for interesting or weird talk radio. I found it: Coast to Coast. I picked it up during a call-in segment, and here was a typical quote from a caller:
I know you've always said that you wouldn't use the collective mind-power of your audience to influence the weather, but....
And more of the same! Looks like I missed a great show Saturday night:
In a special 5-hour show, Art Bell conducted a 4-hour interview with Jim Sparks, who discussed his eighteen years as an alien abductee.
I was rooming with TO, a member of the North Texas Trail Runners; in November TO completed three marathons and one 50k on two back to back weekends, qualifying him for a Rutehnium Level membership to Marathon Maniacs! TO finished the SunMart 50 miler on Saturday, then finished the White Rock marathon on Sunday! He's a running machine!

Another NTTR member, Don, had picked up my packet for me and dropped it at the hotel. So after getting my room key and my packet, I chatted with TO for a couple of minutes and then fell fast asleep.

But only for three hours. The alarms went off at 5:00 AM. I got dressed and threw on my race clothes and gear, threw my stuff in my bag and headed for the car. I arrived at Starbucks at about 5:45 for a coffee and donut, then to the gas station for Gatorade and water, then drove the five miles to the race headquarters at Huntsville State Park. It was 32 degrees at this point, a little too cold to stand around, but perfect weather for racing.

I met up with some friends and ultrawalkers from my first SunMart, Becky, Vicki and Patty (Patty is a local DFW racewalker and a racewalking coach). I chatted with them and dropped my bag with their gear, then chatted briefly with TO and another NTTR member, Bill, then the race started and we were off.

Interestingly I encountered two other walkers at the beginning of the race. They said they were from Idaho and had walked the American River ultra in 12 hours and were hoping to do SunMart in 11 hours. This was too fast for me so I didn't make any effort to stay with them. We passed each other a few times in the beginning, then I pulled slightly ahead and would see them on the two long out and back sections (one at about 2.5 miles into the 12.5 mile loop, and one entering and exiting the Start/Finish area). This out and back is one of my favorite parts of SunMart. I love seeing my friends several times during the race, and I also enjoy seeing the front runners and greeting the other racers. I made a real effort to shout out an encouraging greeting to almost everyone I met on the trail.

The first loop was uneventful and I was ahead of my race plan the whole way. I gained three minutes over my goal time of 2:39 and didn't feel like I was pushing too hard. I saw TO and Bill and they both looked strong.

The second loop turned out to be a good loop, but it felt labored. I felt like I was pushing myself, and I worried that I was going to use up everything I had and not leave anything for the second half of the race. I purposefully slowed down (I planned for the second loop to be 45 seconds slower per mile than the first loop) but I still gained three minutes, so at the end of the second loop I was six minutes ahead of plan but a little bit concerned. TO and Bill still looked good, but Bill had passed TO, who appeared to be struggling a little bit.

I promised myself that I would take a little Advil at the halfway point, so after I crossed the timing mat and stopped at the aid station, I popped two Advil. I noticed my hands and wrists were a little swollen. This usually means too much or too little electrolytes, and since I hadn't taken any electrolytes caps I assumed it was too little so I popped two. During the first two loops I took a few Clif Shots, and I ate small handfuls of snacks at each aid station and drank soda or water (for some reason some of the aid stations had diet Pepsi - Yuck! What's the point??? I wanted the sugar). Someone had the brilliant idea of spreading peanut butter on Oreo's, then topping the whole thing off with M&Ms; I started referring to it as Redneck Gu!

Loop three felt good, but it turned out to be my slowest loop and far below my goal. I had planned loops two and three to be at the same pace, but loop three was nine minutes slower than loop two; I lost all of the six minutes I had gained, plus an additional three minutes. I wasn't worried because I was still well within the cutoffs, but I was a little discouraged, and I wondered how bad loop four was going to be. What was really weird was that loop three felt pretty good and felt fast. But at least I was only three minutes behind my race plan, and I had more than enough time before the cutoff.

About three miles before the end of loop three the two racewalking women from Idaho passed me. They looked good, and while one of them stopped at the aid station the other powered ahead and cruised up the hills like they were nothing. Then her friend passed me trying to catch up. As I entered the start/finish out-and-back I again saw TO and Bill. TO had passed Bill, but they both looked great. I also saw a few other NTTR members on this loop, plus some familiar faces from past SunMarts.

After I crossed the timing mat I said Goodbye to Becky (she wasn't racing due to an injury, and her friends were doing the 50k, so I wouldn't see them again), grabbed my flashlight and headlamp and moved out for the last loop. I always love starting this loop as a back-of-the-packer. People are always so encouraging (and a little sympathetic) since they know we are probably in for a darkness finish and some physical suffering. You can also cheer in the back-of-the-pack 50k racers that are less than half a mile from the finish.

Loop four is a strange mixture of suffering and excitement. There is a lot of physical pain, and there is usually a look of disappointment on some people's faces (I'm assuming their day did not go as well as expected). But there is also excitement because we all know that we are almost finished and that we won't be seeing each other again. There's a strong sense of camaraderie since the only people left on the course are the back-of-the-packers, who I refer to as the Flashlight Finishers since we will be finishing in the dark. It's a good way to finish the day.

I felt good on loop four. I took two more Advil just to keep everything moving smoothly. I watched my watch closely and saw that I was making great time. At each aid station I was moving ahead of my planned time for the loop. As I was walking into one of the aid stations I heard one of the volunteers yell at some racers that were departing, "Enjoy the dance tonight!" and I burst out laughing. It felt good to know that every step brought my closer to the finish.

At about four miles from the finish (at the long wooden bridges) I saw off in the distance the two racewalking women from Idaho. They were pretty far ahead so I didn't think I could catch them, and I was interested in trying. I just wanted to stick to my plan and finish feeling good. I was on track for a PR so "beating" someone didn't seem important.

At this point the 50k and 50 mile races merged, and I spent a couple of minutes talking to a 71 year old man in the 50k who was coming back from an injury and had recently completed the Vermont 100. He told me his goal was to finish in eight hours, and after a few quick calculations I told him I thought he would do it easily (looks like he finished in 7:54). He was a cool cat, decked out in black with an earring in his ear. His accomplishment was quite an inspiration!

Then I chatted briefly with two runners that I passed (one of whom seemed to be having some leg problems) and she said, "I just want you to know that I've really enjoyed your smile all day." I said back, "I figured if I kept smiling I wouldn't cry." She replied, "Yeah, but you were smiling the whole time." That made me feel good - I always try to enjoy the experience, otherwise why do it?

Right before the last aid station I passed Bill who was powerwalking but said he was fading fast. Then right at the last aid station I saw the two other walkers! They stopped at the station, but since it's only 2.79 miles from the finish I didn't see any need to stop; I waved at them and kept right on going. Since I was ahead of plan I hadn't had to turn on my lights yet, which also explains why I was ahead of schedule for the loop.

I cruised up the hill out of the aid station and passed one more racer. Then I turned on my lights and walked from glow stick to glow stick, and didn't see another soul until I heard the cheers, whistles and cowbells of complete strangers cheering for me at the finish. I crossed the line, gave up my chip, got my medal and my finisher's afghan, then headed straight to the car and straight to the nearest Mexican restaurant. I arrived home at about 10:45 PM, so the whole trip lasted about 24 hours and I was only in Huntsville for about 17.5 hours.

My official time was 11:12:55, a little over 14 minutes faster than last year, and about 35 minutes faster than 2004. I was faster than last year on three of the four loops, and walked my fastest loop ever (2:36, a 12:28 pace).

I really enjoy SunMart. Sometimes it is criticized because of the inconvenient Packet Pickup (which is about an hour away in Houston, and there is no early pickup or race day pickup), and sometimes it is looked down on because it is one of the biggest ultras and attracts people of all abilities. These things are both true. But it is a well supported race with lots of pre- and post-race food, awesome freebies (this year: large gym bag, race logo polo shirt, race logo technical shirt, race logo technical hat, race logo water bottle, two Hammer Gels, plus the following "cheap" freebies: nail care set, rain poncho, gloves, disposable camera, stuffed bear, sunglasses), a beautiful course, and the wonderful opportunity to see your fellow racers numerous times during the race, to receive and give encouragement, and to enjoy being outdoors and pushing yourself toward new accomplishments. The course is relatively flat but very rooty, sometimes muddy (not this year), portions of jeep road and portions of wonderfully twisty single track. I think SunMart is a great race, and would make a great first 50 miler. The aid stations are almost sumptuous, even at the end of the race, and the whole experience (excluding packet pickup) is positive. I look forward to doing it again in the future.


Loop 12:42:000:12:572:42:000:12:572:39:002:36:000:12:28
Loop 22:59:000:14:192:48:000:13:262:49:002:46:000:13:16
Loop 33:06:000:14:522:49:000:13:312:49:002:55:000:14:00
Loop 42:59:000:14:193:06:000:14:523:01:002:54:000:13:55

SunMart PR

I had a great day at SunMart yesterday. I'll post a report soon, but for now my finishing time was 11:12:55, about a 14 minute PR. I beat my goal time on three of the four loops. The weather was great and I couldn't have asked for a better day to race.

More soon.....

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Tom Waits and SunMart

No, Tom Waits will NOT be at SunMart (but wouldn't THAT be cool!). It's Tom's 57th birthday. Happy Birthday to the most innovative musician in American music today!

Tomorrow night, after my company Holiday party (uggh!) I'm heading to Huntsville, Texas for SunMart. This will be my third year in a row. My training has been spotty so I don't have any major goals for the race other than making the cutoffs and finishing (and having a good time). My bags are all packed, my flashlights are tested, my gel is ready, my Advil is stashed in my pack, all is ready. Just need to make the drive, then get up early and hit the trails. I'll post my results on Sunday.

Good Luck to Ed at the White Rock Marathon, and to anyone else racing this weekend.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Is Wal-Mart Green?

"It makes scant difference whether Wal-Mart starts stocking organic food or not, because the real problem is the imperative to ship products all over the world, sell them in vast, downtown-destroying complexes, and push prices so low that neither workers nor responsible suppliers can prosper. (In fact, Wal-Mart's decision to sell organic food will almost certainly mean the final consolidation of the industry into the hands of a few huge growers that ship their produce across thousands of miles -- not to mention that the people ringing up the organic groceries will still make below-poverty wages and taxpayers will still be footing the bill for their health care. There's something gross about buying a healthy carrot from a sick company.)"

~Bill McKibben, Hype vs. Hope, Mother Jones Magazine

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Good Day to Rumble

Man, what a race. It was about 45 degrees at the start, which was freezing while waiting for the race to start but was perfect racing weather. At first my legs felt like lead because I was so cold, but I eventually warmed up.

Since I did a marathon two weeks ago I didn't have any goals for this race - just finish and have a good time. I half-heartedly used my watch but didn't obsess - just eat, drink, and be merry (and keep walking). Turns out I had a GREAT, GREAT race. I've done this race three years in a row and this was my fastest time ever - by 39 minutes! That's right, I beat my fastest time on this course by 39:39, and I walked my second fastest 50k time ever (although I don't trust my 50k PR, I think the course was short). I broke 13:00 per mile (12:57) which makes me very happy because this is a very rugged course with lots of ups and downs.

So tonight I'm on cloud nine. And I don't feel sore at all, just tired!

It was a great day, and I saw a lot of good friends at the race (I got hugged at all three aid stations, which is always nice!). And my race number was 69, which got me lots of ribald comments, especially at the aid station staffed by the Harley riders. And as I was finishing they announced me as the first racewalker (there wasn't a racewalking division) and mentioned I was a member of the club (North Texas Trail Runners). I got a nice marble finishers award and a custom-made ale (Mud and Guts Ale) specifically for finishers of this race (for the expiration date, it says "Drink Before Western States").

So yes, a good day, a great day. Now I'm going to drink some Shiner Hefeweizen (if you're from Texas, you'll know), watch a movie and drift off to sleep.

Distance: 50 km
Time: 6:42:08
Pace: 12:57

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Are you ready to Rumble?

Rockledge Rumble 50k, that is. I wasn't planning to do this race, but at the last minute I changed my mind and registered last night. As long as it didn't fill up before I registered, I'll be out on the trails Saturday morning for a nice little walk in the woods.

I know Ed will be there, and Susan was considering it. Anyone else? Hope to see you there - it's a great race!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Things that make me feel.....

Donald Rumsfeld's resignation.

Change in leadership of the house (and possibly Senate); I'm not a huge "capital-D" Democrat, but of the two national parties the Democrats most reflect my priorities.

Six states had minimum wage increases on the ballot; all six passed.

It appears that Arizona will defeat the anti-Gay marriage proposition.

All of the anti-choice measures were defeated.

So many states approved anti-Gay marriage or anti-Civil Union measures (WTF! Why do you care if homosexuals have civil unions. Butt out!).

Arizona adopted English as an "Official Language" (they should receive the Failure to Face Reality Award!).

That in Texas not a single Democrat running for National or State-wide office received more than 39% of the vote.

Oh well, all in all the results are good and hopefully we will have a new national dialog and new priorities.

I was researching new quotes for my e-mail signature and developed a nice list that I feel summarize my social and political views. So, for what it's worth:

"Our modern industrial economy takes a mountain covered with trees, lakes, running streams and transforms it into a mountain of junk, garbage, slime pits, and debris."
~Edward Abbey
"It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment."
~Ansel Adams
"We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, militarism and economic exploitation are incapable of being conquered. A nation can flounder as readily in the face of moral and spiritual bankruptcy as it can through financial bankruptcy."
~Dr. Martin Luther King
"The essence of the problem is about consumption, recognizing that a society that consumes one-third of the world's resources is unsustainable. This level of consumption requires constant intervention into other people's lands. That's what's going on."
~Winona LaDuke
"Anarchism is not a romantic fable but the hardheaded realization, based on five thousand years of experience, that we cannot entrust the management of our lives to kings, priests, politicians, generals, and county commissioners."
~ Edward Abbey
"The use of solar energy has not been opened up because the oil industry does not own the sun."
~Ralph Nader
"Economic advance is not the same thing as human progress."
~John Clapham
"Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it."
~Henry David Thoreau
"For the first time in the history of the world, every human being is now subjected to contact with dangerous chemicals, from the moment of conception until death."
~Rachel Carson
"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed."
~Mahatma Gandhi
"In today's integrated world economy ... eradicating poverty may contribute as much to U.S. security as eradicating terrorism."
~Lester R. Brown
"Even if you win the rat race, you're still a rat."
~William Sloane Coffin Jr.
"Take any group of nice people on a trip; if five bad things happen to them in a row, they will end up as cannibals."
~Edward Luttwak
"Civilization is tissue thin."
~Iris Chang

You HAVE to Watch This

All runners and walkers, you have to see this trailer for a new documentary about the marathon (it follows three "ordinary" runners and two elite runners training for the Chicago Marathon).

I'll be honest, I've got tears in my eyes remembering the challenges and the satisfactions of my marathons and ultramarathons. It's really awesome!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Miracle Match Marathon Quick Report

Well, I got my PR, but not by as much as I was expecting. My unofficial time from Garmin is 4:49:27 (my old PR was 4:56:57). It was pretty warm (average of 68, high of 78 during the race) and really hilly (numerous long hills that required a slow walk). I enjoyed the race and had a great time, and I'm happy with the PR. I was hoping to get below 11:00 per mile but that didn't happen (11:02 actual). I might have done it if the course was a little better marked (more on that later) and a little less hilly.

You can relive the race and see the elevation gain and loss at MotionBased by clicking here.

My friend Frances also beat her goal. It was great to see many old friends and make some new ones!

I'll post a more complete race report later.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A Great Sunday

Today was my last long walk (18.5 miles) before the marathon in two weeks, and it was a great walk. The forecast called for "tons of rain" (literally) but luckily most of the really heavy rain stayed away until the second half of the walk. I was able to beat last week's pace (10:54), so I now feel like last week wasn't a fluke but was indicative of my capabilities. This makes me even more confident that I can PR in two weeks if I race a good, smart race.

Here are my splits:
11:40 (half mile)

Now it's time to taper and get ready!

Distance: 18.5 miles
Time: 3:19:42
Pace: 10:47

Saturday, October 14, 2006


For the last year I've been mentally switching between being a road walker and an ultra/trail walker. Back in March I mentally switched gears to roads. Then in early summer I switched back to ultras. Then in September I switched back to roads. Here is my basic dilemma: Time.

I love my family, and I love to spend time with them, especially my seven year old daughter. She gets upset when I take a one night business trip, and usually on the weekends we are inseparable.

My problem is that when I train for ultras it takes so much more time. Here is a typical long training day for ultras:
1. Drive to Lake Grapevine, at least 45 minutes.

2. I try to do 27 miles most long walks (I'll ramp up before a longer race, like 50 miles). My pace is always slower than my road pace, maybe 13:00 - 14:00 minutes per mile. If we split the difference and assume 13:30 per mile, then that is 6 hours and 4 minutes.

3. I usually take a brief break at my car every nine miles (I park in the middle and go out 4.5 and back 4.5 miles). Maybe ten minutes per break, so 20 minutes.

4. Drive home, at least an hour because I usually stop for a Starbucks Latte or a drink somewhere.
So not including prep. time and cleanup, that is over eight hours! If I get up at 3:00 AM and get to the lake by 4:30 (I usually get up at 3:00, but have a bad tendency to dally and not get on the trail by 4:30), that means I get home around 12:30 or 12:45. That's about half of my Sunday with my family shot.

If I stick to roads, here is a typical long training day:
1. Drive to White Rock Lake, about 20 minutes.

2. I vary from 15 to 24 miles, depending on what I'm training for. Let's assume 18 miles. I'm also much faster on roads, anywhere from 10:45 to 11:30. Let's assume 11:20 (my marathon PR). That adds up to 3 hours and 24 minutes.

3. I usually only take one break and it is much shorter, about five minutes.

4. Drive home, getting a drink on the way: 30 minutes.
So again, not including prep. time and cleanup, this is only about 4 hours and 20 or 30 minutes, roughly half of the ultra training time. I can easily get up at 4:00 am and be on the trail by 5:00, which means I would get home around 9:30. Some days I get home before my daughter is even out of bed, or while she's having breakfast, so I really haven't lost any time with her.

I started this post with the intention of arguing for a way to do ultras again. I love the natural aspect of ultras; I love the smaller races, the people, the trails, the lack of fanfare and hoopla, the beautiful places I've been (I'll never forget Cassoday, Kansas, Syllamo Trails in Arkansas, Laurel Highlands Trail in Pennsylvania), etc. I really want to do ultras. But I don't see how I can; I just don't think it's feasible right now. Maybe down the road as my daughter gets older and has more activities of her own things will be different. But right now family is much more important, so I guess I've made my decision. I'll stick with roads and marathons for now and then see what the future brings.

On another topic, I'm going to start biking to work heavily again. I was doing it very regularly in the winter, then in Spring and Summer work got too busy and hectic (and I was traveling a lot) so I did it rarely. But my wife and I want to really reduce our spending and be more responsible. My car is seven years old and needs some maintenance, and the gas mileage is not as good as my wife's car (and, of course, is nowhere near the miles per gallon of my bike!). It's also good exercise, it's also good for the environment. I've seen a lot more bike commuters in Dallas lately; I think that is partially due to higher gas prices, and partially due to my increased awareness because of my own interest in cycling.

I need to get a new bike sometime in the future (my cheap Target bike is not going to last long) but I think I'll ride my current bike until it dies. I've seen some really nice commuter bikes at REI for $300 or less (I can't believe how LIGHT they are compared to my Target clunker) so when the time comes I'll get one of them. I have lights, bottle holder, mountable rack, etc., so really all I need is the bike.

That's all for now. 18 miles tomorrow, then I start tapering for the marathon two weeks from tomorrow. I'm excited to race again; I haven't done a long race since last December, and I haven't done any races since my disappointing performance last May at the Memorial Day 20k.

Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Breaking My Vow of Silence

Well, I wasn't planning to post any more, but yesterday's training was too good so I had to share.

Yesterday was my longest walk before the Miracle Match Marathon on October 29. Next weekend I'll do 18 miles, then the following weekend no miles, then the marathon.

On Sunday I planned to do 24 miles. I got to the lake early and started walking about 5:30. It was nice and cool and felt great out. I started out very slow and struggling. I rarely do 12 minute miles, but both of my first two splits were over 12:00, and my third mile was 5 seconds over my marathon PR pace of 11:20:

After that I did a few more miles in the 11 minute per mile range and finally felt like I was loosening up:

After that, I somehow turned on some speed and was able to keep all of my remaining miles below 11:00 per mile (except one) and I even clocked one mile at 9:59! I was shocked - my normal weekday six miles isn't normally this fast and doesn't feel this good:

I didn't really do anything differently except focus on the hip swing and getting my whole body into the racewalking motion. I could tell when I wasn't focusing on my form, I slowed down and the walk felt more labored.

Also, I started using Clif Shots again. I used to use Clif Shots exclusively, then I started trying out Hammer Gel, Clif Shot Bloks, Honey Stinger Gel, etc. But I really feel a boost when I use Clif Shots (I alternate between Mocha Mocha, which has a little caffeine, and Very Vanilla). I used one every six miles; during the marathon I will probably use one every five miles.

So now I'm feeling very confident about setting a PR at the marathon. I haven't raced in a marathon since March 2004 so I'm really excited about going this distance again!

Distance: 24.00 miles
Time: 4:21:44
Pace: 10:54

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Bye bye, blogosphere

Well, I haven't posted in quite a while, and that's because I haven't had anything to say. This is my official au revoir to all the walkers and runners that might have visited this blog from time to time. I just don't feel like blogging any more so I'm signing off.

Things have been so busy and my training has been so sketchy that I am again planning a hiatus from ultramarathons. I just don't have the personal time to commit to the training. I'm fighting some allergy-related problems right now, and as soon as those are over I'm going to focus on marathons and shorter, and speed. I can do this without having to get up at 3:00 AM on Sunday morning and get back home at 1:00 PM. So maybe I'll see some of you guys at a race in the near future. I'm planning on completing a few races this fall and winter with my goal being to win the Mardi Gras Marathon racewalk division. So if you're interested, keep an eye on those results.

I've got some good racewalking, ultrarunning and cycyling blogs linked on the left, so please visit these folks. I visit them frequently but can't find the time to comment.

To everyone: good luck, have fun, be safe, enjoy life. Hopefully our paths will cross someday.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Almost bought the farm today...

...because I was almost killed by an idiotic, impatient, selfish driver. I haven't commuted by bike in a while due to work and travel, injury, etc. I was really excited about getting back into my commute every day possible, and today was my first day back.

I was heading south on Audelia Road north of 635 (here's my commute). I stay off major roads as much as possible, but sometimes you have to use them to connect. As I approached a light, I was riding in the right hand lane, but I was riding about where a left car tire would go (one thing I've learned from resources like the DORBA Commuter Forum and commuting websites is "Own Your Lane," don't cower near the curb and invite people to share your lane). So I'm about 100 feet from an intersection with a light and suddenly, out of nowhere, this car passes me on the right, trying to get between me and the curb!!!! He was so close that his side view mirror hit my handlebars; it must have passed inches from my leg, elbow and side! Luckily it was a folding mirror and it actualy folded all the way back to the car door.

If he had driven a couple more inches to the left, or if the mirror had not been a fold away, I would be sprawled in the middle of the road, hopefully not run over by the other traffic.

What is wrong with people!!?? Why are they so impatient?? Why are they so inconsiderate?? Even hateful?? I'm going to continue to ride, dammit, because I like it and it's the right thing to do. But how long before someone is injured or even killed by an idiot (I know it happens every day somewhere!).

The ironic thing is that at the time of the incident I was thinking of a T-shirt idea that might keep people from honking at me. On the front, I would like the commie logo of the fist breaking a car (see above). On the back, in big letters, it will say, "Honk if you're helping the planet" or "Honk if you're reducing our dependence on foreign oil" or "Honk if you're fighting global warming." I think that should silence the honkers! (I posted this on the DORBA Commie Forum and now one of the members has spearheaded an effort to make these jerseys or something similar a reality!).

One thing I have to admit--the accident was partly my fault because I was daydreaming and lost my focus. I have a rear view mirror clipped to my helmet, so I should have seen this idiot coming and taken evasive action.

So ride safe out there and stay focused. Don't let 'em take you down!!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Night Walk

Last night my trail running club, the North Texas Trail Runners, hosted their annual members and guests Night Run. This was a race I might actually win because it is a prediction run - no watches or cell phones or MP3 players, just guess your time and see who is closest.

The race is on the rugged and wonderful North Shore Trail at Lake Grapevine. It's probably the most popular trail for running (and mountain biking) in the Dallas area. We started in the middle of the trail at the MADD shelter; the course went south out and back (little over 9 miles total) and then north out and back (little under 9 miles) for an 18 mile course. It's a pretty low key affair and largely self-supported except for water, gatorade and food in the middle.

We started at 8:00 and I quickly dropped back to almost last place. I had predicted 3:54, a 13:00 per mile pace. I haven't trained or raced on trails since March, and I've only walked 18 miles or farther once since March, so I really didn't know what to expect.

It was light for about 30 minutes, then dusk for about twenty, then it was time to turn on my flashlight and headlamp. Some of the fast runners passed me on the way back, then I hit the turn around and on the way back in I passed a few runners.

I love walking at night and think that I'm relatively fast in the dark, so I was enjoying myself immensely. I was alone, which is how I prefer it, just enjoying the experience. It was HOT! At 8:00 pm it was 97 degrees; when I got home around 1:45 am it was still 84! So I had to stay hydrated. I drank about two bottles of fluid on the first out and back, and about three bottles on the second out and back (I wasn't carrying bottles; I was wearing my Camelbak FlashFlo, which holds two bottles worth of fluid).

I hit the halfway point at MADD shelter and refilled my Camelbak and headed right back out. The north half of the trail is more rugged and hilly, so I knew it would be a challenge. But so far I was feeling great and felt like I was going fast (for me). On the north out and back I fell twice. The first time I put my right foot out and stepped on a stick. The other end of the stick was pointing back toward me and when I stepped on the far end, the near end lifted up. I caught the toe of my left foot on the end of the stick and couldn't get it dislodged in the milliseconds it took to fall. I wasn't hurt at all, but I was covered with dirt and sand because of the drought we are having in Dallas; the trail was dusty like a desert.

The second fall was similar except I was just getting tired and lazy climbing up a hill, caught my left foot again and fell on my left side. Again, no injuries but I was laying there in a cloud of dust and dirt, and my whole left side was filthy. The mouthpiece of my Camelbak was dirty, too, but I had to just suck it up and drink out of it anyway after a cursory cleaning.

I saw runners in front of me pass by on their way back in, and then I passed runners behind me on my way back. I could tell there were a lot of DNFs because I passed very few people, and some people that I knew should have been behind me were nowhere to be seen.

When I finally got back to the MADD shelter I was welcomed back by the RD, then I drank some water and had a seat. There were a lot of members sitting in a circle sharing war stories, but I was tired and really didn't feel like chatting. So after sitting for a while I headed home, stopping at the store to get milk and a bite to eat.

Unfortunately I forgot to ask for my time so I don't know how close I came to my prediction. They will post the results on the NTTR website (last year's results) so I'll post again when they are there.

I was pleased with this race because, as I mentioned above, I haven't done this distance or any trails in quite a while. I really want to get my ultra legs back, and I now feel like I'm well on my way. This has been my best training week in a long time (36 total miles, some good speed work) and I'm really starting to feel good again. I'm also very motivated to start biking to work again (for health reasons, political reasons, environmental reasons) and plan to bike all week except the two days I'll be out of town.

So if you plan to be in Dallas next July please join me at the NTTR Night Run as my guest; it will be hot, but it will be fun!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Ultracentric 2006

Ultracentric has a new Race Director, and the race has changed quite a bit. It's now a 48/24/12/6 hour race. It's moved up one weekend (it used to be the weekend after Thanksgiving). It's no longer on a high school track, it's on a 2.4 mile paved loop. And the 24 hour race has been designated the 2006 National 24 Hour Run Championship by the American Ultrarunning Association. For you speed demons, there's actually prize money, "the largest in ultramarathon national championship history in the United States" according to the AUA website.

Here's the new website. I'll miss the old race format, but change is part of life. I didn't have this race on my calendar this year, but since it is moved up one weekend and since there is a twelve hour option, it might be a good training race for SunMart.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Nike+iPod without Nike

I don't have an iPod, so I'm just passing this on for those that do. As many of you know, Nike has released an iPod enhancement that fits in Nike shoes, the Nike+iPod Sports Kit. As far as I can tell, this only fits in one model of Nike shoes. So if you don't wear that model (I think they are hard to find right now) or if you don't wear Nikes at all, this guy (the Podophile) has found a good solution.

It looks to me like this is a fancy pedometer; I've never trusted pedometers. If I ever want to know my distance, speed and pace, I use my Garmin Forerunner 201 (although the 205 looks pretty tempting).

Happy running/walking!

Sunday: It's still hot!

It's still really hot, especially in the sun. In the shade it's not too bad (85 degrees at 8:00), but in the sun it is painful and feels much hotter.

Anyway, the good news is I took my knee out for a walk today and all went well. There was no pain, even after yesterday's 60 mile bike ride. I had hoped to do 8-10 miles but I was walking on the track with no shade and I ran out of water. I decided there was no reason to push it today and stopped after a little over six miles.

I'm just glad I can finally get back to training. Sitting around idle has been agony, but now I can focus on my goals again.

Thanks to everyone for the supportive comments during my convalescence!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Saturday: OMG, It's Hot!!

8:00 am - 86 degrees
9:00 am - 90 degrees
10:30 am - 92 degrees
12:00 pm - 96 degrees
3:00 pm - 101 degrees!

Damn, it's hot out there. I made the crazy decision to go for a long bike ride yesterday that turned out to last all day. I dropped my family off at the airport for a trip to visit relatives, and I was back home and on my bike by 8:30. I rode around North Dallas and Plano on streets and paved trails. The sun was brutal. Last night I froze two water bottles for the ride. They were 100% melted within one hour - not a hint of ice at all.

After riding for a couple of hours I grabbed some lunch at Which Wich, my new favorite sandwich place. If there is a Which Wich near you, I highly recommend that you go. I always get the same thing: Black Bean Patty with buffalo sauce, lettuce, tomatoes and extra onion on a wheat role. It's awesome!

After that I rode to my haircut (she washed my hair with cold water twice - it felt soooo good). The I rode back into Dallas and caught the White Rock Creek Trail down to White Rock Lake, but I didn't go around the lake. I rode west through neighborhoods to Borders and bought a new book (The Assassination Business - there's a little too much conspiracy theory in the book, but it's still a good read on the tools of state that no one wants to admit we use). Then I headed to Starbucks for a Iced Venti Soy Latte and some water. I read for a while, then headed home at about 4:30, when the heat was just unbearable!

I got home and jumped into a cool bath. I was starving and exhausted. And I lost three pounds.

If you want to see my route you can check it out here on Motion Based. The final mileage was over 63 miles (MotionBased is slightly under, my Garmin says 63.48.

Best of all, my right knee felt great! Sunday is the big day when I try to walk again!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Almost ready

My knee is much, much better. Just little hints of pain from time to time, like I might feel after a hard workout or a few days after a race. I took the dog for a slow, easy walk the other night and felt little twinges but nothing serious. I also rode my bike a little and it was fine. But I'm waiting to start my training. I'm really, really, really anxious to get back at it, but I know that starting too soon will just make it worse.

I'm going to see how I feel Saturday night. If all is OK, I will do some easy training Sunday morning and see how that goes. If that goes well, I'll start some of my daily training. If Sunday doesn't feel good, I'll wait longer, but it's going to be hard.

I have a tentative race plan for the next year. Things could change (with me, they often do). But here is the plan right now:
October 29: Miracle Match Marathon, Waco, TX. This will be only my second marathon ever. Why do it? I have friends and family in Waco, including some of my ultra friends who are doing it. I also used to live there, so it will be like a race down memory lane.

November: I'd like to do a 50k, but I haven't found one yet (there is one in Dallas but it is only two weeks after the marathon).

December 9: SunMart 50 miler. This will be my third year in a row to do SunMart. I really like the race and I'll see lots of my ultra friends and acquaintances there. It should be lots of fun, as usual.

January/February: Train, train, train. Maybe a 50k.

March 16/17/18: Three Days of Syllamo (20k, 60k, 50k). I did this race two years ago and it was, without a doubt, the best time I've ever had doing ultras. Great races, beautiful course, great camping and food. Just an awesome time!

April/May: Train, train, train. Maybe some 50ks.

June 9: Laurel Highlands Ultra. This is another race I did in the past and loved. This one will depend on finances. It's a much longer trip (if we drive) or more expensive (if we fly and rent a car) so we'll have to see if it's in the budget.

July/August/September: Train, train, train.

October 13: Heartland 100. Finally, the Heartland 100. I've wanted to do this race for a while (I've done the 50 [it was my first ultra], and I've paced for over 62 miles) and now hope to make Heartland 2007 my first 100.

So this is the plan. Seems very reasonable and not too aggressive. I may throw in some shorter races here and there as it seems appropriate. I've let my ultra conditioning slip for a few months so I'm going to get it back. I'm also going to do more hill and speed work. During ultra training I tend to forget about speed, but I'm going to do more intervals and tempo walks during my weekday training to try to prepare me to go faster.

I'll let you know if I'm able to train this weekend. Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 07, 2006


Scott Jurek is going to try to break 24 hours at Badwater. Incredible!!!

Linked from the Hill Country Trail Runners blog.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Injury Update and Music News

First, an injury update--it's better, but it's not good. Monday I actually used a cane to get to work (my wife has had two hip replacements and one knee replacement, so we have all the orthopedic equipment you could ever want). By the end of the day the cane wasn't necessary, but I was still hobbling around. Today I can almost walk with a normal gait, but not quite. Still quite a bit of pain, but it does seem to get better every day. Next week I have my annual physical so if it is not significantly better by then I will ask my doctor for his advice. I'm hopeful I can get back out walking in another week, but I also don't want to push too hard and prolong the recovery.

On the music front, I have great news and sad news.

The sad news is that Sleater-Kinney is on "indefinite hiatus." Their album The Woods was one of my favorites from last year (and is widely considered to be their best). I've bought a couple of their other albums (I really like One Beat, too) since I first heard The Woods. They've been making music for almost 20 years but I just discovered them, and now they are going to break up! There's some great running/walking music on this CD, so have a listen.

The great news is that I have a new love, Murder by Death. Their new album, In Bocca al Lupo, is amazing--guitars, drums and a cello create a really ominous, sometimes melancholy sometimes sinister mood. There are pirate sea shanties, prison songs, songs about broken families and murders. A lot of reviewers have compared the album to Johnny Cash (probably because of the themes) but stylistically I think it is much closer to the work of Tom Waits, my favorite artist of all time and my adoptive father (well, not yet, but I'm trying). Some of the songs remind me of the wonderful innovations of Rain Dogs or Swordfishtrombones.

Anyway, if you like Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Camper Van Beethoven, Johnny Cash, try this album out. It's GREAT!

Have fun!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Decision Time

Today has not been a good day. My run this morning was terrible. I got about six miles in and had some bad knee pain. I walked a long time and then tried to run some more, but the pain kept coming back. I ran a mile here, a half mile there, but ended up walking most of the way home. I soaked in a cool tub (there's no cold water to be found here in Texas right now) and put an ice pack on it, but it didn't help. Now the pain is so severe that I've been hobbling around all day in pretty constant pain.

I went to Runner's World to try and diagnose the problem. Look what I found:

Q: Is the pain in the front of the knee below the kneecap? Does it get worse as you run? Have you recently added more mileage?

If the answer is yes you could have Patellar tendinitis, see [C] below.


[C] Patellar tendinitis is inflammation of one of the knee-joint tendons. Tendinitis occurs when tissue breakdown outpaces regrowth, and is caused by increased mileage, hills (especially downhills), and pace. Running through tendinitis will make it worse and prolong your recovery, says Davis. But treated early, it can heal in a few weeks. Here's how: cross-train, ice, wear a patella strap, take anti-inflammatories, stretch, and do exercises to strengthen the joint and quadriceps, such as leg extensions.

This is a perfect description of my pain. And yes, I have increased my mileage (like going from zero to 8 miles a day, and trying to do 15 today). So I have no one to blame for this but myself.

So I'm in pain, I'm frustrated, and I'm at a crossroads. I'm trying to decide what makes sense for me in terms of exercise and obsessions. Ultras have become a really important part of my life, and when I took some time off, I immediately started missing the training and the racing. But I now realize that if I really want to become an ultrarunner, I have to start from scratch. Some of my walking fitness will make a transition to running easier, but I have to face the fact that I will have to start small and build, like it's a new sport to me (which it is). Ultimately, at this point in my life, this is the question:

Is ultrarunning important enough to me that I'm willing to put in a year or more of effort, or is ultrawalking satisfying enough to make it the more appealing immediate option?

The other question is, can my body withstand the rigors of ultrarunning long term (I don't have great knee history) or am I better off sticking with the low impact ultrawalking?

So this is where I am. I've really been at sixes and sevens the past few months due to my job (too much unsatisfying work) and my lack of a training plan. I seem to change my training goals from week to week. But I know, without a doubt, the following:

I love ultras. I love going really long and spending all day, or longer, on the trails. I love the people the atmosphere, the outdoors, the challenge.

As far as racewalking and ultrawalking, I sometimes feel a little out of place or odd. But then I saw a couple of things today that made me feel that maybe being a little out of place is OK; who really gives a *&*# anyway.

Today I took my daughter roller skating again (yesterday she had a roller skating birthday party, and today she and a friend wanted to go back). There was a middle aged woman at the rink in roller blades doing some very nice moves--graceful like an ice skater, waving her hands around, turning around in circles, etc. There were also some younger kids (late high school age) who were dancing on their skates, I mean really dancing--they were learning moves from each other, practicing and studying and trying, not just goofing off.

Then on the drive home I saw a guy riding a unicycle down the street.

It reminded me that our passions come in all shapes and styles. What I think is absolutely the stupidest thing I've ever heard of, a complete waste of time, might be someone else's obsession. Who am I to judge? Diversity is what makes us interesting.

So basically I'm going to take some time to consider my options, but you can probably tell which way I'm leaning. The trails are calling.....

Friday, June 30, 2006

Be Happy

I received an e-mail today with a long story. At the end were these five simple principles:

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

1. Free your heart from hatred.
2. Free your mind from worries.
3. Live simply.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less.

Have a good weekend, everyone. If you are racing, have fun. If you are training, have fun. If you are slacking, have fun. I'll be at my daughter's 7th birthday party tomorrow, then running on Sunday. It's going to be a great weekend!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Back from Vacation

We just got back from a 16-day driving vacation through the Northeast US. We drove from Dallas through Little Rock, Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville to Washington DC where we stayed for a few days with my Dad and visited some of the monuments and museums, Mt. Vernon, and we saw Love's Labours Lost (wonderful production, based loosely on the Beatles' 1960's visit to the Maharishi). We then drove to Philadelphia, where my wife and I lived for about six years, and stayed there for about six days. Again we visited historical sites, museums, visited with old friends, and soaked in the ambiance of the city. We then drove to New York City for a quick two day visit, then the long drive back home. It was GREAT to be away from work for so long (no cell phone, no e-mail, no worries)! It sucks to be back :(

While on the road I had the chance to walk quite a bit, and only once on a treadmill. I did three long walks in Philadelphia, from downtown (Rittenhouse Square) through Fairmount Park up to Manayunk and back (about 16 miles). I also walked in Central Park, although it wasn't a great walk because the Chase Corporate Challenge was being held that night so the park roads were packed with thousands of runners. I did a nice run (yes, run) in a lovely neighborhood West of Knoxville, and I ran (yes, ran) along the River Trail in Little Rock, AR.

Now it's time to get back to training. My thoughts are all over the map right now--I've thought about focusing on 12-hour and 24-hour races and racewalking; I've thought about switching to running and building up to ultras as a runner (I'm getting a little bored with walking and am looking for a change). One thought I had was to repeat my first season of ultrawalking as an ultrarunner, which would mean a 50 miler in October (either Heartland or Palo Duro), then the Rockledge Rumble 50k here in Dallas in November, then SunMart 50 miler in December, then train for the Three Days of Syllamo race in Arkansas in March, then maybe a few 50k races. I still want to do a hundred miler, maybe Heartland in 2007.

I want to train hard and feel excited again, but right now I'm just feeling a little lost. I'm also very burned out on work, and the vacation only made that more apparent. I'm going to try some running this week and see how it goes; I'll let you know how this turns out.......

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

My New Ride

I bought these this weekend. Nice ride, very lightweight, pretty good heel support, nice roll. I got some small blisters under some callouses on my heels, and the bottoms of my feet were sore the rest of the day, but I think that is because I didn't lace them tightly enough and I needed to wear thicker socks.

I did 21 miles (85 laps) on the track this weekend at a 12:02 pace. Did I mention I'm training for Ultracentric 24 hour? I've been all over the map with my training and racing plans, but I've decided to throw myself fully into training for Ultracentric in November and the Houston Ultra Weekend in February. I might do a twelve hour or another 24 hour as a training race before then; we'll just see how things go. I never realized how much I would miss the ultra distances, and the ultra people, when I took my little break. So I'm back. For now. ;)

Monday, May 29, 2006

Big Disappointment!

Well, I wasn't even close to my goal. Hell, I wasn't even close to a PR at all. What a disappointing race. I was slower than two years ago, and that was also a disappointing race. Except for the marathon I did in 2004, I haven't walked this slow (in a non-ultra) since 1/1/2004. I don't know what the root cause was, but I have several ideas:
Not enough training
Irregular training
Hot, muggy weather and a bright, brutal sun
Weight gain (I'm over 10 pounds heavier than I was two years ago)

So I guess it is time to get serious. I've got to get back to my regular training routine, and I've got to get my eating under control. That will be hardest since I haven't been as strict as I once was, and because I have a vacation coming up and it is always hard to eat well when you are on the road. But if I want to race faster, and if I want to do better at my next 24 hour race, then I have to get real.

My next race will be the Flagpole 8k on July 4th. I've raced this race two of the last three years. I intend to PR this race by working on speed until then. We'll see what happens.

Race Summary:
Distance: 20k
Time: 2:19:07
Pace: 11:11

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Plans for Weekend, and beyond.....

Well, again I haven't posted in a while. Things have still been very busy at work but they are starting to settle down.

My walking training has been better but still not as consistent as it should be. I've been biking more (last weekend I rode 64 miles, and I rode to work several days during National Bike to Work Week) and doing more speedwork. My speed is better than I expected, but I've got to get more consistent.

This weekend I had 11 miles on my training schedule. I've decided to do the Memorial Day 20k on Monday instead of a long walk today. I did this race two years ago and had a bad day; my pace was 10:50, slower than my half marathon pace at that time. Tomorrow I'm confident I will beat that pace; I would like to get close to or even beat my current half marathon PR pace of 10:13 (which would mean faster than 2:06:58). I'm not sure I can maintain that speed for that distance, but I'll try.

I've slightly adjusted my long term training plans. I still want to focus on road and track races, but I miss the ultra distances. I've decided to try to train for both marathons and fixed duration ultramarathons, like 12 hour, 24 hour and 48 hour races. I'd like to do some fast marathons, and I'd like to beat my Centurion time at last year's Ultracentric. So what I plan to do is alternate long weekends; one weekend I will build toward the marathon distance (first marathon on the schedule is in October, then December) and focus on speed; alternating weekends I will do longer distances (20, then 30, then 40 miles) and focus on distance and time on my feet, not speed. There are two races I will train for, Ultracentric again and the Houston Ultra Weekend, which will be a Centurion event (not sure about Ultracentric yet).

This will be an easier training schedule because I won't be going long every weekend, and because I will train on the track near my house, cutting my normal 45 minute commute to the lake down to 10 minutes. I miss the ultra distances and the extra challenge they present, so I think this will be a good compromise.

In other news, Friday was my 15th wedding anniversary!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Memorial Day holiday!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Hey there

Well, believe it or not a couple of people have asked for updates from me so I guess one or two of you still read this blog! So I will provide an update for those curious readers.

I'm doing well, but it's been a tough first quarter. I've only done one race all year, and it was a 5k! But I'll get to that in a minute.

In January I missed my first race because I had the flu. I missed my next race because of a death in my wife's family, then I missed my third race because of a death in my family.

In addition to this, my company won a large contract with a large company to provide services in North and South America. Since the account is in my region, I've been traveling to Austin, Texas almost every week since the beginning of March. So my training has been a challenge, and family time has been a problem!

As a result of all of this, I'm taking some time off from ultras. I'm having trouble balancing the work-family-training activity, and it is getting harder and harder (both physically and personally) to spend 8+ hours on the trails every weekend. A couple of weekends ago I got up at 3:00 am on Sunday (as I usually do), got dressed, ate breakfast, loaded my gear in the car, drove 40 minutes to Lake Grapevine, strapped on my pack, turned on my headlamp and flashlight, walked up to the trailhead, and suddenly realized I didn't want to be there. I got back in the car, went and got a cup of coffee and headed home.

Since then I've been doing some road walking at shorter distances. Last weekend I did my first 5k in about two years and I PR'd by 24 seconds (31:06, which surprised the heck out of me). I've also been cycling quite a bit when I can.

So my plan is to train up and rebuild my base for some fall marathons, focusing on speed. I'll return to the ultras someday but right now I need a break. I want to feel like a 15-20 mile walk on the weekend is an accomplishment, not a "light training weekend"! ;)

On the work front, yesterday I hired the Program Manager who will be the onsite manager of our services and employees, so now I can manage the account from Dallas with fewer and shorter trips to Austin. I'll still be traveling for a few more weeks and then things should settle down.

So I'll try to update the blog periodically. Thanks to everyone who visits and comments. I've been following a lot of other blogs when I can and enjoying reading about your accomplishments. Good luck training and racing!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Pimp My Ride

I haven't posted any pictures of my bike, so I thought I might post a few.  For you bike purists out there, be forewarned that this is an inexpensive "mountain" bike from Target.  I don't plan to ride down Pike's Peak; I just want to ride to work and ride with my daughter, so I didn't feel like it made sense to spend $500-$1,000 for a bicycle (not to mention that I can't afford to pay that much at this time).  Here she is:

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Here is a closeup of the handlebars.  The light on the left was the first light I bought.  It really isn't bright enough, but it has a flashing mode that I use to get the attention of automobile drivers.  The light on the right is my new one and is very bright, appropriate both for seeing where I'm going and making me more visible to to drivers.  You can also see my "rear view mirror," the little round Texas flag attached to my helmet:

Here is the back of the bike, where you cah see my underseat bag for carrying small items, my new bike rack for carrying my backpack or larger items, and my bright red blinking tail light (for saying to the cars, "Please don't hit me!").

I'm very happy with my bike!  Maybe down the road I'll see a need for a more expensive bicycle (and luckily all my lights/racks/bags can be mounted on any bike) but for now this meets my needs and is lots of fun!  If you ride, be safe and follow the laws!  Get a helmet, get lights, get seen!

I Saw a Bright Light.....

OK, it wasn't that bad, but it was pretty bad. I haven't been this sick in years. Last Monday I woke up at 8:15 AM, moved to the couch, went back to sleep at 8:30 AM, slept until 4:30 PM, woke up and drank some water, then went back to sleep until 8:15 PM, then got in bed and went back to sleep at 8:30 PM for the rest of the night. I don't normally even like to take naps, so this is really unusual for me. My head was killing me, my back and arms were sore, my throat felt like I had been drinking acid, I was coughing, etc. You get the idea. It wasn't pretty. I missed an entire week of work and missed Rocky Raccoon. Oh well, that kind of thing happens. Today I'm about back to normal. I have a slight, infrequent cough and a little bit of sinus drainage. Today I'm taking my daughter ice skating (she's started taking lessons and loves it) and then tomorrow it's back to work and back to reality.

On Friday I felt well enough to go shopping at REI with a gift card I received for Christmas. I bought a rack for the back of my bike so I could strap on a backpack with clothes, my laptop, etc. I also bought a much brighter front light, a "multitool" so I can do some of my own bike maintenance, and a bike maintenance and cleaning kit. And I bought a basket for the front of my daughter's bike. I'm planning to ride in to work tomorrow for the first time in two weeks.

Other than that, I'm not sure what my long term plans are. My wife and I are trying to save money and pay off some debt, so I may not do any official races for a while. I've been thinking about doing a "My Own Personal Ultra" series of self-supported races at locations I choose. Here are some places where I would like to do some all day self-supported "races":
Cameron Park
Dinosaur Valley
Cross Timbers
Isle du Bois and the Lake Ray Roberts/Lake Lewisville Greenbelt Corridor
There are other places, of course, but I could drive to all of these, do my own "event" and then drive home. I guess you could consider them all "Fat Ass" races: no entry fee, no T-shirt, no support, just fun. I might still do the Heartland 100 in October because I love this race and I still haven't done a trail 100. I'm also toying with the idea of the Ultracentric 48 hour in November (although the future of Ultracentric is in limbo because the RD is looking for a replacement and hasn't found one yet).

I also might see if I can get some work travel to coincide with an ultra. I have a new customer in Madison, Wisconsin. There are two Wisconsin ultras, one in May (Ice Age 50) and one in June (Kettle Moraine 100). Hopefully my customer will require some on-site services the week before either of these races.

So I'm planning to play things by ear. For some reason I'm really motivated to keep walking, but I don't care so much about races. Maybe that will change, but for now I'll just do my own thing. I'll also continue biking to work as often as possible, and biking with my daughter for fun.

I hope everyone who raced Rocky Raccoon had a great time and achieved their goals. I can't wait to hear some race reports. Take care--see you on the trails (or on the bike!).

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Down and Out

I've got the flu! No Rocky Raccoon for me this weekend. I haven't felt this bad in a long, long time.

I'm pretty disappointed. I've been looking at the race calendars to find my next race but nothing seems to work with my schedule. I'd prefer a 50 miler or longer.

I'll let you know if I find anything. Good luck to everyone who is racing this weekend.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Update on Things

Sorry I haven't posted in a while, but I haven't had much to say. Here's a quick status of things going on:

1. Bicycle Commuting: This has been great. I've really been enjoying the ride and the extra workout. I've been able to ride three days a week so far, although this week I will only ride one day due to my travel schedule and visits to customer sites. Next week I probably won't ride at all because I'm tapering for Rocky Raccoon.

I found a slightly different route that crosses I-635 at a different place and is much safer and more pleasant. It's also slightly shorter. The Dallas Off-Road Bicycle Association (DORBA) has a Bike Commuter forum and an online tool to track everyone's commuting mileage to use for advocacy purposes. So far I am the #2 commuter, although since I can't bike much this week or next I will probably drop in the rankings. So far since January 1 I've biked about 237 miles; 224 of those miles were commuting.

To help with commuting I took a week's worth of clothes up to my office so I didn't have to carry a backpack every day. That made the ride a little more pleasant and less effort; I will continue to do that when it makes sense.

2. Ultra Training: My training has been a little spotty this month. I went through a period where I was having trouble getting up in the morning to train. I rode my bike most of those days so I still got a good workout, but I would have preferred to walk and ride.

I did a 27 mile trail walk on January 8th, and a 24 mile paved trail walk on January 21st. I tried to do a long trail walk the next day (January 22nd) but it was raining and cold and the trails were so muddy and slick, and I was so wet and cold, that I couldn't complete my planned mileage; I only did seven miles. For the month I've only walked 93 miles.

My next race is less than two weeks away: Rocky Raccoon 100. This will be my first 100 mile trail race and I'm very excited. Even though my training has been slow this month, I feel ready for the race. I've developed a very conservative race plan that gives me plenty of time to finish under the cutoffs (30 hours) and I feel confident that if I don't have any injuries (and the weather is not wet) I will be able to finish.

That's all for now. I don't know when I'll have something worthwhile to post so my updates will be infrequent. Hope everyone is doing well and enjoying their training/racing/resting/whatever.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

My New Commute

I've always wanted to bike to work, but I never knew if it would be realistic (and I didn't have a bike!). Well I bought an inexpensive mountain bike at Target on New Year's Day. I bought it primarily to ride with my daughter since she got a new bike from Santa. But I decided to take advantage of the new wheels and see if a bike commute would be feasible.

Dallas has very few bike trails, but like most cities it has designated surface bike routes on city streets. So I did some research and found an interactive map where you can see the bike routes (current and future). I then used the excellent Gmaps Pedometer to find my own route and map the distance. My route turned out to be about 9.5 miles one way, so for me about 50 to 60 minutes of riding. Perfect! An extra two hours of working out should help with weight loss and leg strength.

My first ride in was great. There are some significant hills on the route so it's quite a work out. There's only one area that's really scary, and that's riding on Audelia and crossing Interstate 635; lots of cars and merging traffic. You can see the route and the hills on Motion Based. If you have a Garmin Forerunner you should check out Motion Based; it's pretty cool!

My ride home was good but I didn't realize how dark it would get. I felt pretty unsafe during the last 20 minutes because I didn't have any lights on my bike. So after getting home last night I ran over to a bike store and bought a red tail light, a head light and a rear-view mirror for my helmet.

Today's commute in was also great. So far I really like the bike commute. To make up for the extra time I've been skipping my morning latte (saves me some calories!) and eating a really quick breakfast. I don't want my commute to affect my time with my family.

I don't think I'll do it every day, and I don't know what I'll do as it gets warmer, but right now it's awesome! And I'm saving money on gas and making one teeny tiny contribution to helping the planet. If you have the opportunity, give it a shot.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

2006 Plans and Goals

I've been struggling with my 2006 race plans. I've decided to race less and train more. I had a great year last year, but I raced too much and wasn't able to train like I should. I want to train hard this year and improve my speed and endurance. So I may only do seven races this year (compared to 10 in 2005 and 16 in 2004). In general my races will be well spaced to give me time to recover and train (the February/March races are a little close together, but they are "must do" races so I'll make it work).

Here are my racing plans for 2006:
2/4/2006 - Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile. Goal: First trail 100

3/17/2006 through 3/19/2006 - Three Days of Syllamo stage race (20k, 60k, 50k). Goal: Have fun!

5/6/2006 - Prickly Pear 50k. Goal: 50k PR

10/14/2006 - Heartland 100 Mile. Goal: 100 mile PR

12/9/2006 - Sunmart 50 Mile. Goal: 50 Mile PR. Fantasy Goal: Break 11 hours
My personal goals for 2006 are pretty simple:
1. Lose 12-15 pounds.
2. Get a bike and cross train.
3. Work on speed.
That's it. Keeping it simple.

Since I'm talking about goals, I'd also like to state my long term goals and my fantasy goals:

Long Term Goals:
2007 - Badwater

2008 - Trans-Texas Run

2009 - Gobi March
Fantasy Goals:
Thru-Hike the Appalachian Trail
Walk Across America
The Grand Slam
Other Races I'd like to do:
Desert R.A.T.S.
Trans Korea Ultramarathon (308 km)
Sahara Stage Race
Pikes Peak Marathon
Hard Rock
That's all for now. Good luck in the new year! I hope 2006 brings everyone happiness and success.