Saturday, February 25

Back in the Saddle

I only had once chance to get in a long run this weekend--during the afternoon yesterday. I am speaking all weekend long, so I knew I would really need it. This was my first run since the Austin trip so I decided to take it a little easy. I got in five good miles of tempo pacing and then walked an additional four afterward. It was great to get back in the saddle.

Meanwhile, the weirdness of the Austin Marathon continues: I got an e-mail from the company that took the official photos for the race saying that none of mine turned out. There were photographers at three different stages of the race in addition to the finish line . None of the photos turned out. Par for the course, I guess.

Tuesday, February 21

Continuing Weirdness

RunFAR Racing Services was responsible for the timing and scoring of the 2006 Freescale Marathon and Half Marathon. I just received an e-mail informing me that all the weirdness we experienced with the race organization, the course routing, and the weather also somehow affected the timing: "At the start of the race, we misdiagnosed an interference problem and failed to review how our staff set up the digital antenna controllers. As a result, we missed half of the participants at the start line. We regret to inform you of this mistake and we are truly apologetic for the mishap." Oy veh!

Monday, February 20

Austin Weirdness

"Keep Austin Weird" is the unofficial motto of the Texas capital. This past weekend, the city lived up to its name--or at least, its weather did. In town for the Freescale Austin Marathon and Half Marathon, I had packed for the predicted weather: moderate temperatures ranging between the high-forties and the low-sixties. When I arrived at the airport, it was downright hot: in the mid-eighties. By the next morning a cold front had pushed temperatures down into the thirties--and they just kept on falling. The morning of the race we were faced with temperatures in the twenties with sleet and freezing rain.

And that was just the beginning of the weirdness. The race organizers decided to delay the start by almost forty-five minutes because there were more than a hundred wrecks on the freeways involving participants of the 10,000-member race field. Needless to say, everything was terribly confused and messy. So, those of us who had arrived on time got to stand around in the cold, wet pre-dawn conditions waiting for the start. In the end, I didn't actually cross the start-line until almost an hour after the advertised time.

I've raced in colder conditions. But, I've never felt more frozen. I couldn't even feel my feet until around mile-three. And my hands didn't start to tingle with warmth until mile-five. Alas, it was only a momentary thaw: at mile-eleven the race route was hit with a bitter crosswind that chilled me to my bones. Two years ago at the Army-Navy game, I came about as close as I'd even been to really being amongst the "frozen chosen." This weekend in Austin, I made it all the way.

And as if all that were not enough, the Texas Department of Safety spread gravel all along the roads to keep us from slipping and sliding--but much of that gravel wound up in my shoes rather than just on the asphalt. I had to stop three times just to empty them.

So, did all this weirdness make the trip miserable? Not in the least. From the moment Karen and I arrived we were thrilled to be back home--if only for a weekend. We ate TexMex, BBQ, a little more TexMex, a little more BBQ, and just to top it all off, we had yet more TexMex and BBQ. We hit all our favorite spots: Rudy's, Run Tex, Book People, Salt Lick, Serano's, Redeemer Pres, and Z-Tejas. We even got a chance to enjoy long visits over great meals with dear friends.

Oh yeah, and then there was the half-marathon race itself. Well, my chip time was really, really lousy--averaging just under ten-minute miles. But, I knew it was going to be a zombie-lunge given my terribly inconsistent training over the last two months. I hadn't even had a good long run since the first week of December. But, I finished.

Today I am a tiny bit sore. But, satisfied and as close to de-stressed as I have been since the St. Jude's Marathon last year. Now that really is weird.

Monday, February 13

The Last of the Snow

Snow usually does not last long here in Tennessee. So, I was happy to still see a good ground cover this morning when I set out for another quick three-miler before a long, long day (and week) of meetings. There were only a few slippery spots where I had to step gingerly. But, the sight of the pristine whiteness all along my regular run route was fabulous. I wish I could do this more often.

I haven't had any substantial long runs since early December. Most of my workouts have been caught in snatches. Despite this, I am going to attempt to run in the Austin Marathon this next weekend. I am under no illusions or about my current state of fitness. So, I am going to deliberately go very, very slowly and just enjoy the crowds, the atmostphere, the expo, and the experience. I am going to pay no attention whatsoever to the time, the pace, or anything else the least bit competitive--lest I injure myself right royally.

I have several upcoming races and a couple of months to try to prepare myself for the Country Music Marathon. I'll run the Tom King Half, the Andrew Jackson Half, and several 5K races to see if I can't get somewhere close to the fitness I need to shoot for a Sub-4 run in April. But, in order to do that, I am going to have to free up more time in my schedule. We'll see.

Saturday, February 11

Snow Run

My dear New England friends will probably scoff at the notion, but I found it thrilling to run in the snow this morning--a first for me. Admittedly, it wasn't exactly a Nor'easter. But, it was steady snowfall the likes of which we rarely get here in Tennessee. I am in Tullahoma, about an hour or so south of Franklin. I will speak three times later this morning so I wanted to make sure I got in at least three miles. It may be just about the last time I am able to run before I head off to Austin next weekend. My three miles in the midst of a winter wonderland were delightful.

Friday, February 10

No SES. But, No SOS.

No speed. No endurance. No stamina. But, that's OK. Really. I'm still going.

After my last longish run before I head off to Austin for next weekend's Austin Freescale Marathon, I have settled into the comfortable realization that I am going to have to forget about time and just enjoy the weekend. I'm just not in shape and nothing is going to change that now.

So, I'll go to the expo. I'll hit all my favorite Austin haunts (mostly bookstores and restaurants). I'll catch up with a few friends. I'll revel with the crowds at Barton Springs and the Town Lake trails. I'll make a couple of trips to RunTex. I'll run for fun, taking it easy all that way from start to finish. And all that taken together will be very, very good.

So, my slow and sluggish seven-miler this morning was plenty sufficient--despite the lack of speed, endurance, or stamina.

Wednesday, February 8

Afternoon Run

Even when it is cold and windy, sunshine makes a run bearable. So once again, I waited until the afternoon to do a quick three-mile tempo run. I am hoping that I'll be able to do a good final long run on Friday before I go out of town to speak at a conference this weekend. It'll probably be my last chance for a long one before the Austin Marathon the next weekend. I am not even close to being in shape--I had originally planned on a really solid warm-up for the Tom King and Andrew Jackson races in March. Now, I am just hoping to finish.

Monday, February 6

Wimped Out

OK. So, I wimped out. It was cold, dark, and windy when I had planned to run this morning. So, I waited until this afternoon when it was cold, light, and windy before I trotted out my easy tempo three-miler.

Sunday, February 5

Super Bowl Warm-Ups

After church but before the big game, I got in a quick five miles. It was cold and windy, but the sun was shining and I was really ready for a good workout. I am nowhere near where I need to be for the Austin Marathon in two weeks, but I am at least getting in a few more miles than what I had been getting during the last month or so.

Tomorrow morning it is supposed to be really, really cold. But, I've got to do some tempo runs this week, so I am just going to have to bundle up and grind out a few miles.

Friday, February 3

Brutish and Short

For the first time in weeks, I was able to set aside sufficient time for a long run this afternoon. I decided to try to tackle my "hills course." Big mistake. Out of shape, tired from the hectic pace of the past month or so, and stressed from a long morning of meetings, I just about died on the first major incline. I stuck with it for almost two hours--but was only able to go about ten brutish miles.

I do get a chance to squeeze in a 5K race in the morning. It is actually the Team Nashville Ten-Miler, but because I have a big budget meeting later in the morning, I am going to try to just run the first three or so and then dash back across town to make it to my meeting. Not ideal, but at least I'll have a chance to catch up a bit with the Nashville running community.

Wednesday, February 1

Cold and Dark

At the beginning of the week it didn't look like I would get a chance to do any training until maybe Friday--and then only maybe. My schedule is just wall-to-wall-to-wall commitments--I generally leave home long before sunrise and I don't get back until well after nightfall. I do love what I am called to do. But, the very thought of missing all my training opportunities was starting to make me really miserable--to say nothing of what it was doing to everyone else around me!

So, I decided to do something drastic. I got up at 4:30 AM, bundled up, and headed out for a short run. It was cold and dark--but, I felt so much better afterward. I don't want to make a habit of this sort of thing, but I was starting to get desperate. I'll do just about anything, I guess, to get in my five miles.