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8 miles in 1:20:27 @ 10:03 pace and 165/195 bpm for 1,193 calories

After almost 20 years of hearing from my best friend Curt Brewer and his dad about the infamous Turkey Trot, I finally got a chance to run it this year.  I originally registered when I first started exercising in the Spring, and back then 8 miles seemed an impossible distance.  Fast forward to today and 8 miles is slightly less than my typical weekly long run, but this morning when I woke up at 6:30am I was still just as excited as I was on the morning of my first triathlon.

After I woke up and put a groggy Emma back to bed so that Joanne could get a bit more sleep, I had what is becoming my typical pre-race breakfast of Honey Nut Cheerios and skim milk and I dressed in shorts, a long-sleeve running shirt, and a black wool cap for the race.  I drove downtown and parked a little more than an hour before the race began.  It was remarkably empty when I walked over to Dallas City Hall to meet Joey Martinez (Curt’s brother-in-law and my running buddy for today), but by the time Joey and I hooked up and found our way to the start line, it was packed!

Starting line crowd at the 2008 Dallas Turkey Trot

Starting-line crowd (photo by travelcodemonkey)

It took about three minutes for us to cross the start line, and once we did the road was clogged with walkers, jogging strollers, dogs, and runners with all sorts of crazy gear—everything from a woman with a backpack full of clothes and food and who-knows-what-else to a group of girls in pilgrim outfits.  It was fun to run through downtown and Deep Ellum with thousands of other people, and I will definitely do it again next Thanksgiving.

In terms of my performance, I finished 4,622nd out of 7,174 runners in the 8-mile race, which put me in the top 64% as compared to my last triathlon finish in the top 40%.  This result confirms to me that running really is my weakest triathlon discipline, and I’m enjoying spending the “off-season” focusing on it.  I honestly could have tried a bit harder to keep up my pace, but I was thinking of negative splitting the race and enjoying my time with Joey.  I did manage to increase my pace throughout the run, but not very evenly.  I really need to work more on this aspect of my race.  Here were my mile splits:

  1. 10:21
  2. 10:31
  3. 10:00
  4. 10:28
  5. 10:21
  6. 10:00
  7. 9:08
  8. 8:32

Finally, here’s a cool graph from SportTracks, the open-source software I use to process my GPS/HRM watch data.  You can see elevation, pace, and heart rate.  The spikes in pace were my walking through the aid stations to stop for water and the dips were running down hills.

Pace, elevation, and heart rate by distance

Pace (blue), elevation (brown), and heart rate (red) by distance


5.13 miles in 53:16 @ 10:22 pace and 164/176 bpm for 720 calories

My final run before the race Thanksgiving morning and it was cold!  I wore a thick, long-sleeved running shirt, tights, a wool cap, and gloves.  My run was under an hour but the sun came up towards the end and I heated up real fast. says it’ll be partly cloudy with a light breeze and 56 degrees for the race—perfect running weather.  Let’s hope the rain doesn’t come early though.

6.47 miles in 1:07:47 @ 10:28 pace and 150/170 bpm for 916 calories

Joanne and I had a date night planned but we ended up dropping off Emma at Grandma Sandy’s house a bit too late to catch our movie. I didn’t get a chance to run on Saturday because I had to work and Joanne hadn’t run for weeks because she’s been sick.  So we took the opportunity to hit the road together, sans jogging stroller.  Over the weekend I had bought her a long-promised heart-rate monitor (Women’s Polar F6, Happy Thanksmas sweetheart!), so we set that up and then ran a small loop around the neighborhood to ease her back into running.  I then dropped her off at the house and went out for some more miles.  She got ready while I finished running, then I came home and showered and we went out for some Thai food.  Sometimes the simplest dates are the best.

7.7 miles in 1:23:13 @ 10:49 pace and 157/174 bpm for 1,124 calories

I took it a lot easier on this week’s long run as compared to last week—no attacking any hills and a leisurely pace where I pretty much avoided looking at my watch for the majority of the run.  I decided to run a big square, as evidenced by the above link to my route map, which included trying out a new sidewalk the City of Plano built on Spring Creek.  They still need to clean it up a bit but it was nice to have a long stretch of straight path to follow.  The sun kept the temperature in check but the 15+ mph winds definitey blew through my long-sleeved running shirt.  I think I need to go buy a running undershirt or something to keep me a bit warmer.

8.69 miles in 1:27:51 @ 10:07 pace and 162/180 bpm for 1,187 calories

Because of a particularly hectic week both at home (Joanne sick, Emma sick, daddy on duty!) and at work, I missed three of my six workouts this week.  Luckily I squeezed in a long run today.  It was cold and windy but the week’s “forced taper” made for decent distance at a nice pace.  I decided to work the hills for the first half of the run, and I jogged over to Arbor Hills to practice pushing hard on the inclines and coasting on the declines.  The second half of the run was mostly flat and allowed me to pick up the pace.  I should have kept my heart rate a bit lower, but I was excited to be running again.  With the Turkey Trot approaching, I hope the next two weeks are relatively clear.

26.32 miles in 1:36:08 @ 16.43 mph and 151/182 bpm for 1,559 calories

I was back on the bike today for an early Sunday morning ride before church.  It was cold, around 45 or 50 degrees with a strong easterly wind.  I dressed in a long-sleeve jersey and wore my winter riding gloves (they’re thicker and cover my whole fingers), but I was still a bit cold during the first half-hour of the ride.  It probably didn’t help that I was heading into the wind and that the sun wasn’t quite up high enough to warm me.  My cycling shoes are made for triathlon, which means they’re well-vented to dry my feet after the swim while on the bike, but I’ll definitely need to buy some shoe covers for cold-weather riding as that cold breeze blew through my shoes and made my toes numb.  (They stung in my hot shower after the ride!)  I’ll also wear a wool cap underneath my helmet next time.

The ride was great once I got out of that headwind, including a fast sprint on Plano Parkway heading west at a bit over 28 mph on the flats.  I finished with a climb up The Widowmaker (Windhaven Hill) that spiked my heart rate at 182 and slowed me down to about 8 mph.  I really need to work in some hill repeats.

Besides soccer and t-ball as a young child and a couple years of rollerhockey, I have never trained for, competed in, or certainly excelled at any athletic pursuit.  I belong to the first generation of what are now millions of kids and young adults who choose the immersive, interactive world of video games over athletics.  As a result of genetics—specifically my hyperactive imagination and my need to shut off the world—I have always loved gaming, from saving self-programmed games on audio cassettes for my TI-99/4A to entering hex-code cheats in ProDOS on my Apple //c to playing Company of Heroes on the souped-up Dell XPS with which I’m typing this post.

But it was my genetics, including that hyperactive imagination and my need to escape, that created a short bout of anxiety back in March which drove me to embrace exercise.  Although I credit gaming for a great deal of the mindset that has helped me become a successful consultant, it doesn’t deliver near the endorphins that aerobic activity does, and it certainly doesn’t help me burn off my nervous energy.  So even though I still plan on playing video games now and again, I’ve not played since March and swimming, biking, and running have largely become my new “hobby.”

That brings me to the good news.  It seems that triathlon has another advantage over gaming when it comes to my genetics.  High cholesterol runs in my family, and back in March when I got my blood tested mine was no exception. My cholesterol level was 181, which although not the worst it’s ever been, still put me at risk for all sorts of nasty health conditions.  Fast forward to mid-September when I had a follow-up blood draw, and I learned that my cholesterol dropped 45 points in just six months!  Moreover, my unhealthy (i.e. LDL) cholesterol dropped by 50 points, reducing my cholesterol-related health risk (i.e. LDL/HDL risk ratio) by over 40%.  Note that besides cutting out white bread, flour pasta, and sugar drinks, I changed almost nothing about my diet.  I only increased my aerobic exercise time from 0 hours per week to 6-8 hours per week.

With less than a year of training under my belt I’m still an exercise newbie, so we’ll see how long I actually keep up this new hobby.   But results like that one get me even more fired up to make life changes that do good for both my brain and body.


  • Highest weight: 228 pounds
  • Lowest weight: 187 pounds
  • Current weight: 216 pounds
  • Started training: March 17, 2008
  • First Sprint: June 26, 2008
  • First Olympic: May 17, 2009
  • First Half: TBD 2011
  • Longest swim: 2.05 miles
  • Longest bike: 63.57 miles
  • Longest run: 13.33 miles