Wednesday, August 31, 2005

HARRA

I just joined Harra. The bloggers are running the CCR together. How cool is that?

Harry Potter and Lindisfarne College

I have mentioned in an earlier entry that I started reading the Harry Potter books. As of last weekend, I have completed the 5th book. One more to go. By reading these books all in a row, you can definitely see the progression of the 3 characters from being boys and girl to real teenagers. Quite interesting.

Much more interesting to me has been the familiarity of the boarding school lifestyle that the author conveys in her books and my experience. Here is a little known fact. I attended a boarding school in North Wales for 3 years. I was there between 1979 ~ 1982. My 13th, 14th and 15th year of my life was spent attending a boarding school.

Here are some of the similarities.

My school, Lindisfarne College was an old castle style building that was over 400 years old. It was apparently last occupied by a local coal baron before it was converted into a school. The building was built on a hilltop and the legend was that all land you could see from the building belonged to the owner of the house.

Ghosts. Yes, we had ghosts (stories). There is this man made lake about a mile and half in length by about half mile wide, with an island in the middle. The depth of the lake is perhaps 4 feet at most places. Supposedly, one of the daughters of the coal baron (don’t know which generation) drowned in the shallow water and she could be seen walking around the edges of the lake in the early morning hours. (Being UK, early mornings tended to be foggy and wet so it fit really well with the story.) Another girl fell to her death from the tower room (we had a tall tower which apparently were bedrooms for the family – gorgeous views of the Welsh country side could be seen from there) and she could be seen at night on the out side window ledge or on top of the tower, leaning outwards with her hand on the flag pole.

We had prefects. I believe each house had a head prefect and 2 additional prefects; the school had a head boy and a head girl (co-ed). Each house had a head of the house and just like the book; it was a member of the teaching staff. The four houses in our school were called, Cromwell House, Coxwold House, Peel House and Lancaster House. Each named after some famous historical figure. I belonged to the Peel house and it was named after Sir Robert Peel who apparently was a Prime Minister sometime or other.

We competed against other houses for the House cup. The house cup was based on academic points and athletic points. We competed in rugby, soccer, cricket, track & field and swimming. Academic points were based on actual grades by class. These were published so you always knew how you did against other students. My house won the house cup 2 out of 3 years I was there.

Each house had distinct colors. Peel house was maroon and gold. We wore Green wool sport coats with house color tie (navy background with maroon and gold stripe) and black slacks. The black leather shoes had to shine always, and there was a shoe inspection before breakfast every morning. The duty prefect was in charge of checking the shoes.

There was detention. However, points were never deducted from houses like they do in the Potter books. School cafeteria food was horrible. Plus we were never allowed to have seconds. Each house had a specific time to show up to the cafeteria. If you were not there when your house entered, then you had to skip that meal.

The teachers were called professors; they wore black robes over their suits and had to be at all times be addressed as sirs or ma’am.

Saturdays, we were allowed to get passes to go spend in close by towns. There were 2. Wrexham and Chester. Both were accessible by a train from the local town, which was about 3 miles away.

Oh, since the school was so far from London, I remember reporting to Euston Station in London to board the Lindisfarne train. Thinking back, the school chartered several train cars for the students. Last year I was there, this was changed to chartered busses.

The school was very strict. We were all young and long ways from home. Still, looking back, I have many treasured memories that I won’t trade for the world.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

Check out my new title block. I got the idea from Tiggs and then went to Lisa's site to grab Teddy's quote. I'm shameless.... :)

No worries

Not much to report this morning. Got up early for a quick 3.1 mile run. The sun must be getting shorter. It was pitch black when I started around 5:30 and it was still pretty much pitch black at around 6 AM. I came across one runner this morning. We both greeted each other. I only realized that the runner in question was a girl by her voice. (we passed each other under a heavily wooded bike path and even the street lights a block away was not illuminating the surroundings.)

I messed up on the splits so I can only give you the mile 1 split and the overall time.

Mile 1: 9:35

overall: 28:48

Much slower than last few 5K distances. Still, it was a really pleasant run. The temperature was a little cooler, not as humid and slightly breezy. I saw the stars and a sliver of a moon. It was just me and my thoughts with no worries.

Koala/Luke's Locker 20K

Just signed up to run this race. My goal is to maintain a 10 minute per mile pace for the entire 20K (12.5 Miles) and try out my new Nike Fuel Belt.

Monday, August 29, 2005


RTW 5K, Heading into second loop... Photo courtesy of Vic Kaiser Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 28, 2005

5K and pancakes

This Saturday's run at the RTW 5K was going to be a challenge. The weather was again typical Houston in August and I was adding my sleep deprivation handicap on top of it. I had trouble falling asleep Friday night and subsequently woke up around 7:15, which did not give me too much time before the race. After a quick warm up and sign in, I positioned myself in the middle of the pack and set off on the run. I took an agressive start, seeing mile one in 8:07, but soon there after, I had to back off. I could feel my heart pounding much harder than usual. So I eased back and saw mile 2 in 9:00. Then I started to feel hot and fatigued. A runner passed me at that point and I decided to use him as my pacemaker. He was on a 9 minute pace so it worked well. Mile 3 came in 9:04 and the final 0.1 mile in 50 seconds.

Overall time: 27:01

After the run, with the exception of Sam Rodriguez, we headed over to a near by Denny's for breakfast. I might have eaten more than anyone there, as I recall, my breakfast was a plate of pancakes slathered in thick syrup, 2 eggs, hash browns, bacon, sausages and 3 cups of coffee.

The next 5K reunion is set for December 10th. Meanwhile, I need to concentrate on the Luke's 20K race this October.

Lastly, I joined the Houston Striders after digesting that big breakfast.

It was great meeting you guys! Sam, Jessica, Jen, Vic and Jon. (I met Jon before.)

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Mr. Cybex and I

It was around Wednesday afternoon when my muscles stopped protesting. This was a good sign because I had to take Alex to the Y in the evening. So I went back to visit Mr. C. Only problem was that I was totally pooped! Except I didn't know it until I did the first rep. Every station was laboriously difficult. Them muscles weren't sore but they surely didn't have much juice in them.

I again had trouble falling asleep Wednesday night. This whole week has been weird. (I'm still up and its almost midnight.) So the morning run did not happen. When I got out of bed, it was already 6:30 and that barely gave me enough time to get out of the house on time. Because of that, I got to do something I haven't done since last Spring... Run after work. I left the house around 6:45 PM, and made a mental note to run a slow 10 minute per mile pace. It was 90 plus and humid but graciously, the cloud cover kept the sun off my back.

Mile 1: 8:51 (Wow! I said 10!!)
Mile 2: 9:12 (Hey slow down!! All the sweat must be pouring out of the head.... it feels waaaay lighter than normal....)
Mile 3: 9:02 (Well at least I am close to the house now, so if I pass out, I'm sure someone will recognize me....hmmm, why is the sky turning dark.......oh yea, night time...)
0.1 mile 0.54

Total: 28:01

Looking back, the run wasn't that bad although I do remember thinking about the heat stroke article Jon posted a few days ago. The cool (cool? did I say cool? There was nothing cool about this run..) thing was that I was comfortable with the pace. I went faster than I felt. I think this is the first run I felt this way. What's up with that? Am I making sense? Maybe I need another cold glass of water.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Early morning run

As promised, the alarm did go off at 5 AM and I did get up. It is amazing what one will do when one writes it down, in this case, on the blog. I had a difficult time falling asleep the night before. After reading up on some blogs last night, I went to bed. Unfortunately, I must have had too many things on my mind. I remember checking the clock one last time around 12:30 AM, so I think it was close to 1 AM when I finally dozed off. Last thoughts I had were of a flying Firebolt, Tom Riddle and Butterbeer. (My crash reading campaign to catch up on Harry Potter has me now on Book 5, The Order of Phoenix).

Needless to say, I think I’ll need a grande Starbucks by lunch today.

There was a full moon out this morning. It cast an eerie pattern on the sidewalk I run on. I’m still not sure whether the heart was pounding because of the run or because I was a little jumpy. Even at that hour, some of the houses had their lights on and their occupants already busy with the start of the day. Some homes were doing morning laundry, some making breakfast and some were already leaving for the morning commute.

As Mile 1 passed by, my worries were leaving me, the stress bleeding away, I was happy to be running and ready to take on the world.

Run conditions: Mid 70’s, humid and calm.

Mile 1: 9:26 - nasty shadows….are snakes early risers? Is that a snake or a shadow?
Mile 2: 9:05 - smell of laundry in the air….
Mile 3: 8:55 - is that bacon and eggs I smell? Coffee too?
0.1 Mile: 0:54

Total: 28:20.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Nothing like a nice XT

So now it has been 2 weeks since my half marathon. Unlike Jon who just ran 2 half marathons in 2 weeks, I have let myself get a little lazy. So to get back into the routine (so hard since the long vacation) I went to the Y on Saturday for a session with Mr. Cybex. It must have been about 3 weeks since I lifted anything heavier than a Grande coffee from Starbucks. Anyway, the repercussions from that session is still with me. I did the same reps and the same weights as the last cybex session, and yet, at this very moment, the muscles are way sore. Its been so sore that even during normal daily activities like passing gas cannot be acomplished without some of my muscles telling me precisely where they are located. (TMI perhaps?)

On Sunday, not wanting to run on sore muscles, I instead went lap swimming. That was pretty interesting. I got in 30 minutes barely. I was tired and hungry. Visions of every sweet things I've eaten during my life kept floating by. I took a quick shower and went home to attack a banana and a piece of bread slathered with natural peanut butter. What discipline! Ouch.. darn muscles still hurt.

Tomorrow morning, I'm getting up at 5 to go run a 5K, just so that I can get back into the groove.

Friday, August 19, 2005

30 minute run in Sacramento

6:30 AM start, high 50's, LOW humidity. I've forgotten how refreshing it can be to go out and run and not sweat like crazy. There was even a gentle breeze to help me along. Unfortunately, I only had enough time for a 30 minute run. I felt way better after the run than before. These Californian runners have it easy. Time for a quick shower and breakfast. Then, on to the airport for a flight back to Houston. I need to take Alex out to "Shogun" (Japanese steakhouse) for his birthday dinner.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

California Dreaming


It is not very often that I get to go west on business. Today was one of those rare occasions. I found myself on a 9:20 AM flight out of IAH to Sacramento, CA. Today was also one of those perfect days where nothing goes wrong. Well, almost nothing. I experienced a strong gravitational pull towards a Starbucks kiosk in terminal C. The aroma was just irresistible. Today's flavor was Ethiopian bean coffee and after succumbing to my weakness, a grande was ordered and taken into the plane for my ride west. I was luxuriating in the first class seat (complimentary upgrade) when the cup slipped from my hand. I didn't drop it but spilled some on my white shirt. Rats!
The Plane left on time and landed 15 minutes early. The weather in Sacramento this morning was just perfect. Low 80's, gentle breezes and no humidity. How great is that? After arriving at the plant on time, our customer bought me lunch at their company cafeteria which incidentally only served vegetarian lunch with bottled water (like, is this a California thing?). After a productive meeting, I set my GPS unit to find the Golden Gate Bridge and off I went to San Francisco.
San Francisco is really beautiful. I saw real runners running all over the place. The weather was perfect for running too. (60 degrees and cloudy at 6PM) I even saw folks running on the Golden Gate Bridge! Argh! Too bad I left my running gear in the hotel room. On my way out of San Fran, I crossed over the Golden Gate and drove through Marin County. I recall reading about Marin County and Mt. Tamalpais in Runners World magazine a few months ago and it felt really cool to be there. As I was thinking about all that, the exit to Mt. Tamalpais came up.
I have a noon flight back to Houston tomorrow. I hope to lace up my Asics GT-2100 for a nice morning run.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking, we are starting our decent into the Sacramento airport. If you look out of the right side window, you will see Lake Tahoe..." Posted by Picasa

The Golden Gate Bridge, shrouded in afternoon fog. When I left Sacramento, it was 90 degrees, when I arrived on the Marin County side of the bridge, it was 55 degrees. Brrrr!!! Posted by Picasa

Grand Canyon from FL280 Posted by Picasa

CO 1714: After 3 hours 16 minutes of flight time (That would be an awesome Marathon time...), our tired bird (Boeing 737-900) parked itself at gate A5 at SMF (Sacramento Airport). Holden deplaned fully rested and with a full tummy due to Continental's complimentary upgrade to first class. Thank you Continental!Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

ChiRunning Seminar is coming to Houston

Danny Dreyer is coming to Houston to offer his clinic. It is scheduled for 10/1 and 10/2. For more info, please click the link. http://www.chirunning.com/shopping/customer/product.php?productid=60&cat=2&page=1

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Starbucks

13.6 miles. That is the distance from my office to the nearest Starbucks. How strange that the distance is sooo close to a half marathon. Since I cut out coffee from my diet, I have become a very irregular coffee drinker. Rather than several cups a day, I might have 1 or 2 a week now. I have been impressed with my discipline as I have been a habitual coffee drinker since 1989. Still, once in a while, I get in the mood for coffee. Good coffee. Today was such day. I drove 13.6 miles to get a grande Verona (flavor of the day) during lunch. Such a dweeb. I'm drinking it right now. Mmmmmm.

Other good stuff I quit. Regular Coke. Been drinking that regularly since I was 8 I think. Actually, I quit drinking carbonated beverages almost totally. My running mentor wondered why I felt compelled to ingest carbon dioxide when my body tries desperately to expel the same gas during my runs. How could I argue against that logic?

Sugar. Except for the 2 packets of brown sugar I add to my occasional grande coffees, I do not add sugar to any food I eat. Since most foods already have too much sugar in it anyway, this was no big deal.

White bread. I eat wheat instead.

Chocolates & Candies. Nope. I allow myself one right after a long run as a reward though.

Yikes, time to get back to work!

Crosstraining and Minute Maid Park

Sunday morning has slowly evolved into a bike riding session with Frannie. I got out of bed around 7 AM and rolled right on to my hybrid bike and pedaled. We usually set a destination within the Woodlands and this day, we set our sites on a donut shop located in Indian Springs Shopping Center. It took us 30 minutes to get there, pedaling as the sun rose over the trees. When we returned home, Allison and Alex was up, watching cartoons.

We went to catch a baseball game last night. Tickets were gifts from a friend of mine from previous place of employment up in Chicago. I need to thank him again. These were front row seats in section 110. To top it off, the 3rd base umpire came by and gave Alex a baseball! He was in heaven. We ate 3 footlong hotdogs, 2 soft drinks and 2 ice cream sundaes. Cost: $38. Too bad the Cubbies lost.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Run The Woodlands 5K



This was my first run since the Half Marathon. I had some reservations about the knees but I got up around 7AM and pedaled my way over to Barbara Bush Elementary School for the 8 AM start. It was a little hot and muggy for my taste but what the heck, this is August in Houston. My goal was to beat the previous PR time recorded at this 5K.

Race Stats:

Mile 1: 8:03

Mile 2: 8:30

Mile 3: 9:28

0.1 Mile: 0:51

Overall time: 26:53.

A new PR for race conditions! And it is only 4 seconds off my all time best of 26:49 that I recorded on a practice run a while ago. (It is written on a previous post somewhere...)

I was trying hard for a negative split but I got out of the gate too fast. By mile 2, I was fighting a losing battle against heat. I had stitches on my lower right abdomen which was unusual for me, plus I didn't even eat before the race. Then I started to overheat. By the last left turn on to Crown Ridge, I was fighting a desperate temptation to walk.

Never the less, the PR was sweet! After the race, the Luke's Locker folks held a raffle for a pair of running hats and a $25 gift certificate from Luke's. Yours truly won the gift certificate! (So I go to a race with $1 and come back with $25....) On Cassie's recommendation, I think I will be using that towards a water belt.

Friday, August 12, 2005


My office folk's sense of humor. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 11, 2005

A friend sent me this email today...

39th

I woke up this morning and found myself......a year older. Now I am only a year away from...40. I need to get back into running. I think this Saturday will be a good day to restart my training and stop "recovering" from last weekend's run.

I woke up this morning and have decided to run the 2006 Houston Half Marathon in 2:15. Running has made me fitter, leaner and much more energetic than at any other point in my life. What a great gift.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

What to carry on a long race

I am always struggling with what I should carry on a long run. I don't own a fuel belt because I'm worried about carrying any extra weight during the later stages of a run. For my first half marathon, I decided to carry a standard 20 oz water bottle and 4 packets of Carb Boom. I carried the water bottle to avoid crowds during the first 3 water stops. That seemed to have worked well except that I had to hold onto a bottle for the first 3 miles in my left hand. The four packets of Carb Boom was in my running short pocket, 2 on each side. Besides that, nothing other than my stop watch, running shirt, short, socks and the shoes.

I saw many runners with the fuel belt. Strangely though, I noticed that even during the later stages of the run, most of these folks had full bottles. So I wonder, do folks carry these as emergency fluids? So are they still stopping at all the water stops? Then that seems to be a lot of weight to be carrying around.

The Carb Boom packs came in handy. I ate them at mile 3, 6 and 9. After that, I think I'd have thrown up if I ate one more.

At water stations, I initially started taking one cup (which incidentally was mostly half full or 2/3 full) and I was typically taking one gulp and tossing the rest. During the last 4 miles of the race, I was taking two cups and drinking the whole thing. Definitely bad water management on my part.

So, what's the point? None, just rambling, thinking out loud.

Monday, August 08, 2005


Clouds over Key West Posted by Picasa

2005 Chicago Distance Classic

What a gorgeous day it was. 70 degrees, blue skies and negligible humidity. I guess it was perfect golfing weather. But still, running on the South Lake Shore was picture perfect. I came home to Houston on Friday night after a week long vacation in Florida. The timing of the vacation was most unfortunate since the Half Marathon race was on the same weekend as my return from Florida. It was unavoidable as I had already signed up for the run and this was the only week that the families we met up in Florida were able to come down. (Side bar note: Not wanting to be a Muggle any longer and with the urgings of my kids Alex and Allison, I decided to read the Harry Potter books. I took the first one on my vacation and read it.)

So, the following day, I caught my noon flight up to Chicago (I took Chamber of Secrets with me on this trip). I drove down to Grant Park in down town Chicago to pick up my race packet and headed to my parent’s house in Skokie. After a spaghetti dinner at a local restaurant with my parents, I went to bed around 9:30.

5 AM came too soon. I must have been fatigued from the week long vacation. Never the less, I get into my running gear, check one last time to make sure the pins are secure, the chip timer secure on the running shoes, and off I go to the race. It was 6:20 AM by the time I parked the car and gear checked my car keys and I wasn’t sure what else to do. Even though I didn’t need to, I stopped by a port-a-potty. After a little warm up walk and jog, I placed myself right behind the 10 minute per mile pace maker. After what felt like the longest 15 minutes of my life, the race was finally on.

Here is my unofficial time based on my stop watch which I started as I crossed the start line.

Mile 1: 9:44
Mile 2: 9:52
Mile 3: 10:01
Mile 4: 10:11
Mile 5: 10:13
Mile 6: 11.12
Mile 7: 11:45
Mile 8: 13:41
Mile 9: 12:50
Mile 10: 14:21
Mile 11: 14:43
Mile 12: 14:50
Mile 13: 15:24
0.1 Mile: 0:58

Total elapsed time: 2:39:53

It took at least 2 minutes before I could get a good run going. The crowd was pretty thick at the start. But once I got going, I felt pretty good despite a strong sun that morning. The course started out on Columbus drive down to the Lake Shore drive and through the McCormick Place tunnel. As I approached mile 4, I saw the Elite runners coming back already. The course ran south to 55th street at which point it headed back up to downtown. This was also the point where the chip timers were checking the 10K time. The back half of the race was panoramically prettier. We got to see the downtown and the lake all together. The course wound through the museum campus, passing by the Planetarium and the Shedd Aquarium. Finally heading back to Grant Park to the finish line on Balbo and Columbus.

I did a pretty good job of maintaining my pace through the first 5 miles. I felt some fatigue from the start, which I suspect was due to the bodily abuse during the vacation week. I also carried a bottled water to get around the massive traffic jam at the first 3 water stations. That worked really well. I think I will do the same in future runs. After the 3rd water station, I threw my bottle away and the crowd was not too bad at other water stations.

My problems started during mile 6. I started to feel the ligaments again on my outer right knee. At first, I just noticed the slight pain. Unfortunately for me, it got progressively worse and worse. Eventually, the same pain manifested itself on the left knee. I’m still not 100% sure what this problem is because there is no swelling so it must not be the actual knee that is giving me problems. It became so unbearable that I had to start walking to ease the pain. The run-walk ratio steadily got worse to the point that during the last 4 miles, I think I mostly walked. The only exception to that was the last 0.1 mile where I gritted my teeth and ran slowly through excruciating pain to the finish line.

I am glad I was able to finish the race. I am disappointed that I was not able to finish in 2:15 or 10 min./mile pace. Run or walk, I never thought it was possible for me to go 13 miles. Now I know I can. Determination and human spirit is quite an interesting natural phenomenon.
So my next immediate goal is to run a Half Marathon all the way at the 10 minute pace. This is what I will be training for. After that, the only question I have to decide is: whether to run the Disney Marathon or the Houston Marathon first.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


View from the Catamaran I was riding on our way to a snorkeling rendezvous. Posted by Picasa

Sunset from Key West Posted by Picasa

Lunch at Sloppy Joe's. Ernest's favorite hangout in the Keys. I'm drinking Michelob Ultra so it was almost like I'm still training. This week has been bad, too much good food and drinks and late nights. I still have to get to Chicago on Saturday... Posted by Picasa

Key West, FL Posted by Picasa

Just left of the photo, there was this bar..... Posted by Picasa

Disney/MGM


Hanging out with Buzz. Posted by Picasa