Tuesday, September 28, 2010

09/18: Oktoberfest 5K

I have friends – hold on, that wasn’t meant to be the news flash – I have friends who run Addison’s Oktoberfest 5K every year which is how I’ve come to run that race the past three years. Which is problematic when it comes to writing about the race, as it’s just sort of a generic 5K and there’s not that much I could say about this year’s race – except that I sucked, big time – that I haven’t said about it before so instead of running from the problem, I guess I’ll just embrace it and look at how this race compares to the previous editions. God only knows what gimmick I’m going to be reduced to for next year’s race – maybe it’ll rain. That would be different. Unpleasant, but different.

The course hasn’t changed in the three years I’ve been running the race; the main feature is still the Arapaho Road bridge, which provides the only hills on the course – one going out and one coming back. So it’s really the same hill only in different directions, but it seems like a longer hill running to the west and a steeper hill running to the east. So, really, it’s not quite the same hill; it’s more like they’re mirror images of each other.

On the one hand, the weather was at least slightly different from the previous two years but that was mostly a bad thing – the temperature at race time was near eighty, as opposed to the mid-sixties of the past two years. The humidity was over 80% all three years so while that sucks, it’s a fairly even suckage across the three races.

They still have free beer and soft pretzels after the race, so that’s a bonus. As I was trying to get a pretzel out of the bag, it got hung up on another pretzel and I said, “damn, they’re fornicating.” Then I looked at the volunteer to see if she was offended but she actually seemed mildly amused. So that was a bonus, too.

The race may or may not have grown over the past few years. In 2008 it looks like there were about 900 finishers, last year there were about 1300, and this year almost 1400. But those only include the timed participants and somewhere along the line – I’m guessing in 2009 – they switched from chips to disposable tags, which, since disposable tags come on your bib number while you have to make a special effort to pick up your chip, I’d think that more people actually use the tags.

Your bib number still gets you into Oktoberfest for free which is an even better value these days – the Oktoberfest cover charge is now ten bucks, up from five sometime in the recent past. However, and this is kind of an important point, should you lose your bib number sometime between leaving the race and showing up in the evening at Oktoberfest, looks like you (i.e., me) are forking over the ten bucks if you want to get inside and meet your friends.

Friday, September 17, 2010

09/11: James Page Blubber Run

The biggest mistake I made Saturday at the James Page Blubber Run was not turning in both my beverage coupons on my first pass through the beer line, which was only theoretically a line when I first visited since many of the eventual beer drinkers were still somewhere out on the course - perhaps at the beer stop just past the second mile marker. Or perhaps not; rumor had it that they ran out of beer there early. At any rate, early on the servers were more than able to keep up with the demand. By the time I finished my first beer, that wasn't so much the case any more: I got into the beer line a little before 11:30 and I got my beer a little after noon. Which isn't to complain so much as it is to illustrate that many people ran the James Page Blubber Run and many of those people drink beer.

Which isn’t to say I wasted a half hour waiting to get another James Page Burly Brown Ale - the Blubber Run is like the Opening Day of the Halloween season and the beer line is a promising vantage point for admiring the various costumes. I saw superheroes and crayons and cartoon characters and nuns and movie characters and Mr. Bill (extremely well done) and Oktoberfesters and Where’s Waldo (not so well done, I thought it was Mr. Bill’s lesser brother) and cowpeople and transvestite Oktoberfesters and Vikings (both pillagers and football players) and bees (one with her own personal beekeeper) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Hooters Girls (unless they really were Hooters girls – they were plausible – in which I case I guess that doesn’t count as a costume) and cavepeople (including two Fred Flintstones) and Larry Bird (albeit with a mustache that looked more like a Got Milk? Ad) and Velma from Scooby Doo, although I’m not sure that was a costume. Not to mention the cute, scantily-clad jungle girl slightly in front of me in the beer line although those damn Vikings kept wandering into my line of sight.

It may sound like running was an afterthought, which is accurate. The race is essentially untimed; they give awards to the top three men and women but outside of that I don’t see them having any official results since we weren’t wearing chips, our bibs had no pull tags; and we were given nothing at the finish line to turn in afterwards. Which is cool by me; I think it’s intended to be a fun, as opposed to competitive, event but – and this is the consumer advice portion of the post – if you’re more interested in a precisely-timed and accurately-measured, perhaps even certified, course, look elsewhere. If not, c’mon down! If the running seems to be more than you anticipated and three miles and change is a bit far to go without a beer break, don’t sweat it. They also have the previously-mentioned beer corral just past the second mile marker although, again, rumor has it they ran dry.

Monday, September 13, 2010

05/13: Katy Trail 5K

You'd think after nearly three months - maybe more than three months, depending on how long it takes me to actually post this - I'd have found something to say about the Katy Trail 5K, but when you throw in the caveat that I'd like whatever I blather to be at least passingly original, it don't come easy. Lord, it don't come easy. You gotta pay your dues..wait, where was I? Oh yeah, well, I've run this race nine or ten times now...wait a second...ten, according to the official runes, the last ten in a row. I guess they started it in 1999; I think this year's was the twelfth. It doesn't change much from year to year; it's usually warm, humid and crowded, and this year it was warm, humid, and crowded. It's kind of amazing, actually, that so far as I can remember it's never rained on the race or picnic despite May being an opportune month for thunderstorms.

I shot my wad early in this one - my first mile was 7:21 and after that there was jogging and some walking, mixed in with walking and jogging. The course was the same as in recent years - Turtle Creek Boulevard to Blackburn to Cole to Elizabeth to the Katy Trail to the finish - and I walked part of the hill at Blackburn. Which is earlier in the race than usual but I wasn't in peak condition; it's been kind of a lackluster running year thus far, and I've always hated that hill anyway. Well, I think maybe I've done a race or two where I got to run down it and I probably didn't hate it then.

The postrace picnic was massive, as usual, and crowded, also as usual. Finishing earlier to get to the food before the hordes descend should be motivation to train more seriously for this race, but to date this hasn't been the case. Partially because even running as mediocre as I did this year (26:19), I still get down to the grub while there's still elbow room. It's not until I'm making my second and third passes that the crowds are pressing up against my claustrophobic limits. Thank God for that V.I.P. thing - not only does it give me access to better beer than Michelob Ultra, I don't have to stand in line for it, either.

The other thing about this race that changes from year to year are the people I know that I run into. This year I saw one dude from Grapevine and four from Ultimate, although two of the Ultimate people were married -to each other - so they sort of count as one. Except they also had Murphy the dog with them, so he should probably count, too. Another Ultimate dude was Ed from my Winter League team a few years back, which at Ultimate he blames his lack of speed on being more of a long-distance runner than a sprinter but at races he just blames it on being slow, which he is. At least he doesn't try to blame it on Ultimate.

Monday, July 19, 2010

05/08: Lake Run 12K

I'm still catching up on race reports that I've let slide the past few months so once again, in lieu of a standard report, are ten things you may, or may not, find enlightening about Portland, Oregon, or the Lake Run 12K.

1. The Lake Run 12K is actually in Lake Oswego and does, in fact, circle Lake Oswego - only for the most part not exactly in an up-close-and-personal style. The lake is rarely in sight while you're running along the course.

2. When you can't find a direct route to the race and all the roads seem to meander all over the place, it's probably due to the terrain. Expect hills.

3. If you hate hills, stay away from this race. Even if you're seeking out hills to get accustomed to them, stay away from this race because this is like aversion therapy; these aren't the sorts of hills to leave you with warm, fuzzy memories. Especially early in the race; it might just be my traumatized memory but it seems like the first 2.5 miles were pretty much all uphill. Although only the last two miles of that stretch was really bad.

4. After the initial hill ordeal, there are still major climbs lurking on the course. And you finish uphill - after a pleasant downhill (technically I'm pretty sure the course has a net elevation loss) - and while it's an insignificant uphill, it's still adding insult to injury even if the only thing injured is my ego.

5. I was afraid to say anything about the hills to the locals. I didn't want to find out that they all ran this race because it was the easiest course around.

6. The McMenamin brothers are building a brewpub empire in the great northwest, with at least some of their locations doubling as hotels and with many of their locations being in historic buildings. I've been to their Kennedy School place three times and never been disappointed. It's in an old elementary school in northeast Portland, somewhere between the Rose Garden and the airport. On the other hand I also went to their Cedar Hill location and I was slightly disappointed - it's just another bar. But with good beer, though.

7. Preserve your sanity - try not to drive too much in Portland, especially around downtown.

8. The night before the race, the Reno Aces beat the Portland Beavers, 3 - 1, in Pacific Coast League action at PGE Park. Which was odd, because Portland was dominating the game with scoring chances throughout (they had a runner thrown out at the plate, another picked off second, and they hit into two double plays) but not totally unexpected because frequently when a team wastes so many opportunities, it comes back to bite them in the ass.

9. If you're going to a Beavers game, take the train. PGE Park is on the west side of downtown and there's a light-rail station right next to the park, making it easy to avoid the hassle of driving and parking in downtown. I think it's expected - the stadium 'lot' seemed like it cold hold maybe fifty cars.

10. I've been to Mount St. Helen's twice now; once all I could do was tour the visitor's center because it was too rainy to do anything else, and this time I couldn't even do that because I got there too late. After getting in stuck in traffic coming out of Portland, of course.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

05/01: White Rock'N'Roll Ten-Mile

God, what the hell do I even remember about this race? We had reasonable running weather – 63 degrees and 58% humidity – not that I actually remember that; I just remember how to look these things up. And that the weather wasn’t extremely extreme in either direction; in fact the high and low both matched the May 1 average for Dallas. The course was kind of meandering; normally a length of this distance would involve circling the lake but in this case we started to the north from Winfrey Point, turned up Northcliff Drive and ran around the Peninsula neighborhood a little bit before coming back down Northcliff Drive and continuing north on East Lawther Driver, along the shore of White Rock Lake. We crossed over the north end of the lake on the new shaky bridge (which isn’t that new, except in comparison to the old shaky bridge over the spillway – which is unfortunately open again although it didn’t matter in this race since we never went near it. And it might not have been open then anyway.) and turned north onto West Lawther, which we took to the north side of Mockingbird. We ran along Mockingbird to the east side of the lake, although at this juncture we’re really on the east side of White Rock Creek; the lake is to the south, and –this I actually I remember, most of this I’m augmenting sketchy memories with the course as laid out on www.mapmyrun.com – where some stupid course marshal on a bicycle was kind of in my way at this point as there were two people I was sort of in the process of passing but didn’t really want to pass yet, but the bicycle dork kind of forced my hand. But I digress. Anyway, we came off of Mockingbird and looped down back onto East Lawther Drive, where we continued north for maybe another half mile before we finally turned around and ran back to Winfrey Point, except for when I walked in the last mile. Which wasn’t bad – I didn’t feel particularly trained for the distance but I didn’t walk until the last mile and overall my time was 1:26:45 except those bastards have it as 1:26:46.58 because they’re always screwing me out of a second here or a second there. Or even a fraction of a second; it’s all the same to them. Them in this case being the Dallas Running Club who used to be the Cross Country Club of Dallas until they realized that they didn’t really do much cross-country, well, one race a year but is that really enough to name a club after? I think not and eventually they agreed. Anyway, they put on this race and it’s kind of a big one for them – proceeds go to support the lake, which needs all the help it can get what with the Richardson ISD dumping toxic waste into it, which I’m pretty sure that’s not official Richardson ISD policy but still. So I suppose that’ll drive up the entry fees for next year which isn’t to say that I’m definitely going to do the race again next year. But I probably will.

04/03: April Fools Four-Mile Road Race

Ten Notes From A Race I Barely Remember (And That There Wasn’t That Much To Say About In The First Place, Which Is Why It Took So Long To Say Anything):

1. The average high for Salisbury (well, Lawrence, actually), Massachusetts, on April 4 is 51 degrees. This year it was 66 at 11:00 in the morning (it peaked at 79 in the afternoon) but with only 48% humidity, so while it wasn’t ideal running weather, it really wasn’t that bad, either. If they had started the race at 9:00, the temperature would have still been in the mid-fifties. I would have had to wake up earlier, though – there’s always a trade-off.

2. The course had its good points and its bad points – it was an out-and-back that was mostly flat and well-shaded, but kind of boring in a scenic, suburban sort of way. The one noticeable uphill came sans shade, so that wasn’t very nice, but it was near the end so you just had to suck it up and get over it.

3. The race was staged from the Winner’s Circle, a bar in, or at least on the outskirts of, Salisbury, Massachusetts. Massachusetts, and I think New England in general, has something we could use a lot more of here in Texas – running-centric bars. Because even down here, most runners I know don’t mind the idea of a beer or two dozen after a long, hard run.

4. Celebrity of the day was Sara Hall, U.S. womens road 5K champion in 2006 and wife of Olympic marathoner Ryan. She was the first female finisher in 21:34 which means that when she was crossing the finish line, I was starting to wonder if maybe they had forgotten to put out a marker for the third mile.

5. After the race I thought, man, I could go for a beer right now – which worked out well because they had some from Harpoon Brewery.

6. There was an older gentleman running around with a neatly-trimmed beard on exactly one-half his face. I’m not sure what was up with that but going on three months later it’s still memorable. In a creepy sort of way.

7. For all the ubiquity of Starbucks, I had a tough time finding coffee before this race. Partially because I’m too much of a control freak to patronize Dunkin Donuts, where they have kind of a heavy hand with the milk.

8. My plan was to run the first two miles as hard as I could and struggle through the last two as best I could. The results overall were better than I expected – 30:50 with splits of about 7:15, 7:30, 8:00, and 8:05 – but I was hoping the first two miles would each be about fifteen seconds faster.

9. Coincidentally, I think it also took me 30:50 to finish my postrace beer. I’m pacing myself, sergeant.

10. The biggest disappointment was not getting a shirt; you had to preregister to get one. At the time I though they looked pretty cool but now I can’t remember what they looked like so, in retrospect, I guess I’m not that disappointed.

Friday, April 30, 2010

03/27: Crazy Beaver Trail Race

I took first in my age group at the Crazy Beaver Ten-Mail Trail Race down at Loyd Park in Grand Prairie, which I'm not bragging about it because there's nothing to brag about it - I was the only person in my age group. Besides, as the late, great Dizzy Dean once said, it ain't bragging if it's true. And if you don't like his syntax, well, he had a few choice words about that, too. At any rate, winning my age group just meant showing up, starting the race, and finishing, all without doing anything to get myself disqualified. Piece of cake, really.

Cherry-picking races for hardware is relatively easy around her, at least in the spring and fall when there are numerous races each weekend, and if I had been so inclined, I probably would have chosen this race for that reason. But I wasn’t thinking about collecting Shiny Metal Objects after last week’s marathon; I was thinking a longer run over a softer surface sounded pleasant. And the 5K I originally thought about doing, up in Denton? Turned out that was last weekend. Besides, I didn’t even know they (where in this case they equals the city of Grand Prairie) had trails at Loyd Park – to be honest I forgot they even had a Loyd Park – so I appreciated the chance to check them out without having to pay the ten-dollar entrance fee. Instead, I only had to pay a $50 race fee.

The trails were perfect in their imperfections – they were pleasant to run on but not so awesome that I’d consider fighting my way down 360 after work and paying $10 to do so on a regular basis. What with all the precipitation we’ve had so far this year, particularly the recent maintenance rains like we got Wednesday evening that keeps the ground from drying out, the trails were muddy in a few places and had two spots where you had to quick step through ankle-deep water. Which wasn’t bad, but you had to pass through each spot twice, so it’s only half as unbad as you might otherwise think. Other than that, the trails were very good for running – shaded, wide, soft and flattish, but with enough roll to keep things interesting and personable. I think they’re up there with the Rowlett Creek trails in Garland for the best running trails in the Metroplex.

I’m pretty sure this was the inaugural running of this particular race and the people who seemed to be higher up in the organization – like the race director and his aide-de-camp – were very solicitous of feedback. I talked to the race director for a few minutes after the race – I think everybody talked to the race director for a few minutes after the race – and I meant to tell him to check out the Liart people in northwest Arkansas, as I’m pretty sure that’s the vibe he’s going for. I didn’t get a chance, though; we spent most of the time talking about the Subway store he preordered sandwiches from that was closed when he went to pick them up earlier in the morning. He wasn’t too happy about that but I didn’t think it was a big deal. He had Keebler fudge-striped cookies – who could ask for anything more?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

03/21: Shamrock Marathon

I have run fourteen marathons and I still don't get them, by which I guess what I really mean is I don't see the appeal. I suppose actually training for one might give me a different, although not necessarily better, perspective but to me, the marathon's greatest contribution to civilization was inspiring the half marathon - a distance I greatly prefer because it's short enough to race, long enough to challenge, and also long enough to feel like you've really gone somewhere. Even if it is just around in one big circle.

I ran the Shamrock Marathon sort of by accident, if not by mistake. A friend was looking for a spring marathon; I pointed out Shamrock and told him I'd make the trip and do the half. That presupposed that we'd register while there was still room in the half, a presupposition that proved dangerously inaccurate. Apparently I'm not the only one who prefers halfs. At any rate, I held my nose and signed up for the full; I used to think marathons were too intimidating to jump into on a whim but when you hear of all these people running multiple marathons in, like, a weekend, it kind of erodes the fear factor.

Having signed up for a marathon, an intelligent person might actually train - maybe even with legitimate long runs - but I couldn't work it into my busy schedule of Ultimate Frisbee, bitching about the cold (and the blizzards) of Dallas, and general hanging out (sometimes with ensuing hangovers). I tell you, the days were just packed. By the time I got to the starting line the morning of the race, my longest run since last December's White Rock Marathon had been 10.5 miles. Which at the time seemed like a marathon but not so much from my current perspective.

So going in, I knew it was going to be a struggle and that I was going to be doing some - as in a lot of - walking. My plan was to take one-minute walking breaks at every mile marker and stick to that schedule for as long as possible. I figured if I could make it through fifteen, I'd at least have a decent training run. As it played out, I ran the first sixteen at 8:49 (missing my walking breaks at mile one, because I never saw the marker, and mile six, because I was in traffic and stopping to walk didn't seem conducive to safety), struggled walking and running through the next four at 13:17 pace, and basically walked in the last six at 16:16 pace. It wasn't a particularly fun walk, either; the weather, which had its favorable elements early in the morning (mostly a lack of humidity), turned against us when the temperature started rising, like up into the neighborhood of seventy degrees. Clouds refused to pass in front of the sun and the course, by that point, was devoid of shade. The important thing in those circumstances is never think about how much you're paying to be there.

Beers later, the death march was just a distant memory. Which isn't to say I didn't learn a valuable lesson about the importance of preparation. Which isn't to say I did, either.

Monday, March 15, 2010

03/13: Dash Down Greenville 5K

I dashed down Greenville Avenue in east Dallas for the sixth time, and fourth year in a row, and now I’m attempting to write a Dash Down Greenville story for the third time and I’m wondering what I can say about it now that I haven’t said before. It’s not like it’s the exact same experience each year – the weather changes, I change, once (last year) even the course changed (direction, mostly) – but these changes occur across a fairly narrow spectrum. I’ve run it six times and not once, say, has the race been marred by a zombie attack. Now that would be a little different.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear – I am not hoping that the Dash Down Greenville, or any race for that matter, is ever interrupted by an undead attack of any sort. All I’m saying is that if it did happen, it would at least be noteworthy. As opposed to, say, slower runners and walkers starting too close to the front, which happens all the time. Although I didn’t have as many problems with that this year as I have in years past, despite the three large-caliber people (the youngest one in jeans) who squeezed past me five minutes before the start.

My problem is, I don’t find this race that interesting but I can’t stay away, either – it’s on the morning of, and in the neighborhood of, the Dallas St. Patrick’s Day Parade, a parade which will only actually be held on St. Patrick’s Day should St. Patrick’s Day happen to fall on a Saturday. Which means 2012, if I’m working my calendar right. At any rate, I parked in the Old Town Shopping Center (across Lover’s Lane from the race staging area at Central Market) a little after seven, which was slightly later than when I wanted for what I thought was an eight o’clock start but earlier than I wanted for what turned out to be an 8:30 start. FML – just kidding! Anyway, after hanging out, running the race, hanging out some more, watching the parade, hanging out some more more, running into some friends, oozing through the human corral known as the Greenville Avenue Block Party with said friends, and finally eating and drinking at Margarita Ranch at Mockingbird Station (again with said friends), I got back to my car sometime after 5:00 in the afternoon. So it was a full, fun, action-packed day, but the race was just sort of a preamble.

I did make one poor decision regarding the race this year – immediately after I finished, I ran two easy miles to cool down (and get some mileage in), then went back to my car to change before hitting the beer (Ft. Worth’s Rahr and Sons, which may not be Shiner but isn’t Bud or Michelob Ultra, either) concession. Which, by the time I got there, had stationary lines about twenty people long. So I blew it off, chagrined, because I know that had I gone there immediately after finishing, I would have had virtually no line to deal with. Live and learn, hopefully. I mean, it’s not like I’m probably going to blow this race off next year.

Friday, February 26, 2010

02/06: Tal Morrison 15K

Sometimes you have to challenge yourself. Other times, you inadvertently challenge yourself by, oh say, going out to the Flying Saucer in Addison the night before a 15K (the Dallas Running Club’s Tal Morrison 15K, to be specific), staying out way past your estimated time of departure (10:00pm), and telling yourself it was all going to be okay because you had downshifted to Michelob Ultra from the high-test brews you were drinking earlier.

It was 12:30 by the time I left the Saucer; I was home and asleep by 1:30. And awake by 5:30, thanks to my stupid alarm. I stumbled out of bed even though I really wanted to go back to sleep – not only was I tired as hell, but my head hurt and my stomach was queasy and if I slept some more maybe they’d both feel better when I woke up again. But some of the people who were at the Saucer were also supposed to be at the race, although they were doing the 5K (well, that was their plan, but they wound up bagging anyway) rather than circumnavigating White Rock Lake, and I really needed to get the miles in, so blowing the race off wasn’t an option. Well, it wasn’t an option I spent a lot of time considering, at any rate.

So, I showered and felt a little better, got my stuff together, and headed out. I also took a couple of swigs of Gatorade and they didn’t feel like they were going to make a reappearance, so that was a good sign. Good enough that I stopped by Starbucks for a sixteen-ounce coffee, which I mostly drank while driving out to Winfrey Point, which I reached early enough to get an okay parking spot. The DRC races keep getting bigger and I'm pretty sure people are having to park out in Mesquite and walk in. After registering and stretching and talking to various people, I finally got to run, which presented its own challenges – I don’t think I’ve ever had so much trouble finding a comfortable pace. I spent most of this race speeding up to a point where I’d start to feel ill, then I’d back off and inevitably start to speed up again. This went on pretty much the entire race although by the end the speed at which I’d start to feel ill was noticeably slower than it had been at the start.

Based on previous experience I expected to feel better after running – so long as I was actually able to finish the race, which I did in an acceptable (for being hungover) 1:16:44. In fact, this turned out to be true – my head didn’t hurt nearly as much and while I wasn’t hungry, I felt like hunger, not nausea, was in my immediate future. Assuming I didn’t succumb to hypothermia, first; I worked up a healthy – some would probably say excessive – sweat running around the lake and hanging out a damp t-shirt in 40 degree temperatures wasn’t feeling too comfortable. So I went to my car and changed into warmer duds, went back to Winfrey Point until the hunger pangs started kicking in, then went to Whattaburger.

Monday, February 8, 2010

01/23: Bold In The Cold 15K

My split for the last mile of the the Bold In The Cold 15K was 9:44, which was surprising because usually I can feel myself slowing down; this mile didn't feel any different from the last few despite being over a minute slower. Turned out, I wasn't slowing down - that mile was about 1.14 miles long because we ran a short out-and-back that's actually part of the race organization's (Lake Grapevine Runners and Walkers) 10K course. So my pace was more like 8:30, which would be in line with what I ran over the last three or four miles.

In a perfect world course mistakes would never occur but then again, in a perfect world presidential elections would never be decided by the Supreme Court. When they do happen, it's best to just roll with them if you're a runner, or figure out the discrepancy and get the word out if you're the organizer - which, to their credit, LGRAW did. and I should probably mention that I've run maybe somewhere between ten and fifteen of their races (full disclosure: I'm also a member) and this is the first time that the course was inaccurate. They put on good events, really. Anyway, they did figure out the difference and adjusted the pace in the results - I didn't come up with that .14 figure on my own.

I don't think course accuracy for Bold In The Cold is as crucial as it is for other races - although of course you want as accurate a course as possible - because for most people it's not going to be a PR waiting to happen. First of all, it's in January, obviously, and most people (for example, me) are just starting to resume training. It's also run over a hilly course, especially compared to White Rock Lake - where most of the other area 15Ks are held.

I didn’t hang around for long after the race - there was ultimate to be played that afternoon and I needed to prepare accordingly - so I don’t know if much bitching about the course ensued or if people were even aware of the extra distance. I found out the next day, via the LGRAW Forum. I didn’t see an angry mob surrounding the race director with torches and pitchforks, saying ‘you made us run 9.46 miles, you lousy so-and-so,’ but maybe that happened later. Most runners aren’t going to care too much, so long as for the most part the event went smoothly, but there will be some who get bent out of shape. I ran the Ft. Worth Turkey Trot in 2000; the course wound up being a half mile or so long because we missed an out-and-back down a dead end that we were supposed to run. I finished just ahead of some old guy who was pissed - he paid all this money, the least they could do was have an accurate course! I couldn't relate at all. I wasn't in very good shape at the time and I didn't miss the extra half mile at all; if they had cut off another half mile or so, I'd have been even happier.

Monday, January 4, 2010

12/13: White Rock Marathon

It was a good morning to run a marathon and an even better one for a half-marathon but I didn't have the option of switching races. Well, I suppose I did - what would they do, tackle me if I turned on south on Skillman or wherever the hell it was that the courses split? - but I signed up for the stupid marathon so I might as well find out what I was capable of. Sixteen miles, as it turned out, of reasonable running, three more miles of struggling running and then seven miles of run/walk to get me back to the American Airlines Center four hours and twenty minutes after I left.

Running the marathon paid one major dividend - I could justify gorging on a burger, assuming I could identify a burger worth suspending my moratorium on beef. Which really isn't all that much of a moratorium - any reasonable excuse, many weaker than a 26.2-mile run (using the term loosely) through the mean streets of Dallas, throws that rule out the window. The marathoners wearing the beef-promoting t-shirts probably had a subliminal effect on my burger desires as well.

After the race, after washing up (but not showering - bloody nipples!) , I had to choose my poison. I mean burger. Which is when it occurred to me that I don’t have a go-to burger in Dallas. Or anywhere for that matter. After weighing my options, and getting hungrier, I decided to check out the Love Shack on Seventh Street in Fort Worth. When you only eat maybe twelve burgers a year (nor counting burgers eaten at Flips after Wednesday night Ultimate in Grapevine), you don’t want to waste burger opportunities on a Big Mac or Whopper. The Love Shack is run by frou-frou chef Tim Love, and has received excellent reviews, so I went in search of an awesome burger.

I couldn’t find it. The Love Shack, that is; turned out I was looking in the wrong development. But while looking I remembered hearing good things about burgers at the Cock and Bull, in Dallas. It was only about forty miles away and I had the Chargers-Cowboys game on the radio; I had a plan. So I drove to Dallas while listening to the Chargers hold off the Cowboys and blow chances to put the game out of reach.

The Cock and Bull, according to an official-looking sign on the wall, has a maximum occupancy of 49, which it wasn't near to reaching when I got there. I ordered a something something Pale Ale while I looked over the menu. They had a Red Bull Burger, which featured red peppers rather than beef marinated in Red Bull. I found that disappointing. They had a Blue Bull Burger, which came topped with bleu cheese, and a White Bull Burger, which I can't remember how it got its name. I went with the generic Bull Burger, only I added on Swiss cheese, bacon, and mushrooms; it came on a chiabata roll and it was awesome. I mean, really good. I mean, maybe not worth running a marathon for but it easily justified at least eighteen miles. I probably should have eaten two of them to justify the entire race, but I wasn't thinking clearly at the time. After all, I had just run a marathon.