Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I completed the Dallas White Rock Marathon on December 14, 2008. I had a great deal of family support and want to especially thank Paige and Allie for their understanding and sacrifice during my 6 months of marathon training. The Tenery's were also in full effect that day. Thank you Jim, Jane, Chad, Jami, Scott, Kelly, Greer, Karlie and Annie for all your support and encouragement. I'd also like to thank Darryl and Marisol for making the long trip from Mexico to see me cross the finish line. Thank you to my friends Eugene Anthony Hoppe IV and Ashley for being there. Y'all are awesome for braving the windy conditions to meet me along the course and offer encouragement, water, and food.

Most people know by now that the race did not go as planned. I trained for and expected to come close to a 3:30:00 finish. My actual finishing time was 4:02:00 - a disappointment to say the least. Here were my splits:

Mile 1 - 8:39 Mile 2 - 7:46 Mile 3 - 7:48 Mile 4 - 7:44 Mile 5 - 7:49
Mile 6 - 7:49 Mile 7 - 7:56 Mile 8 - 7:51 Mile 9 - 7:51 Mile 10 - 7:55
Mile 11 - 8:12 Mile 12 - 7:55 Mile 13 - 8:12 Mile 14 - 8:08
Mile 15 - 9:04 Mile 16 - 9:22 Mile 17 - 9:31 Mile 18 - 9:33
Mile 19 - 9:19 Mile 20 - 10:57 Mile 21 - 10:28 Mile 22 - 10:59
Mile 23 - 10: 23 Mile 24 - 12:20 Mile 25 - 13:20
Mile 26 - 10:22 Mile 26.58 - 13:05
Total - 4:04:41 (I walked around at the end for a few minutes before turning off my Garmin)

I began to slow at mile 15 and during the next 3-4 miles the wheels completely came off. During this time, I began experiencing numerous muscle cramps. These included both calves, left quadricepts, and right groin. The left calf and quad were by far the most severe. Each completely seized up on numerous occassions causing me to stop and massage until the cramp ceased.

There are a number of important lessons I learned about racing, training, and myself during this experience.

1. I like running marathons and plan to continue running. Marathons are long, and so is the time it takes to improve marathon performance. I plan to be conservative and not race another marathon until the fall/winter of 2009. Between now and then I'd like to increase mileage while introducing cross-training (weights and biking).

2. 60 degree temperatures and 25-35 mph wind is not optimal marathoning weather. Because this was my first marathon I never would have considered not running, but in the future I will consider sitting out and signing up for a different event so as not to waste the 6 months of training on a sub-par performance. Given that not running was not an option, I should have significantly changed my goals. To achieve my 3:30:00 goal, I needed to average 8:00 min/mile. Looking at my splits, I definitely went out way to fast - even if conditions had been perfect. In hindsight, I should have shot for 9:00 min/mile for at least the first half of the race.

3. Traveling out of town prior to the race is not a good idea. I spent 5 days in Washington, D.C. prior to the race. I spent too much time on my feet and ran few quality miles.

4. Keep training hard during the last month prior to the race. My peak weeks were behind me at this point so I began to relax mentally. This lead to more days off than I should have taken. Next time I plan to keep to my schedule much more closely during this important time.
5. Follow a detailed nutrition plan during the last week of training to ensure proper nutrition and hydration during the race. I simply winged it and feel that this is too important not to take seriously.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Last Monday I stretched my left achilles tendon too strongly and strained it. Since Monday I've only run twice for a total of 6 miles. This is not good. I'm not overreacting, but I really don't want to end up dragging my left leg behind me for 26.2 miles - which I'll do if I have to.

It doesn't exactly hurt, but after about 4 miles it starts feeling pretty uncomfortable. I've really hesitant to try again. I am scheduled to run 12 miles tomorrow and hope it goes well. If not, I'm in trouble.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Two Oh

I ran my first twenty miler on Saturday (9-27-08). I finished in a little over 2:58:00, which was what I expected. I ran west on 3040 until it ended at Main St/1171. The part of the route that was more rural made for a nice change of pace. I remember feeling awesome through about 13 miles. After that, it became more like work. At about 18.5 miles my right achilles began to tighten up. It's still a little sore today, but hopefully it will not affect my 9 miler tomorrow.

Fortunately, my arch only ached a little and my knees held up real well. I also think my stomach is getting better at handling the gels I've been eating during the run. Drinking enough water is still difficult.

During the last 5 miles I kept thinking how much of a genious Pete Pfitzinger is. He's the author of the book and I'm using to train. While running 20 miles is never easy, I was amazed at how doable it was. Following the schedules outlined in Pfitz's book, Advanced Marathoning, has helped me know when, how far, and how fast I should run on a given day. All I have to do is get out of bed and get it done. Which is easier some days than others.

Surviving this run has given me a lot of confidence that I'll reach my goals at White Rock.

Monday, September 8, 2008

August - 196

I ran 196 miles in August. By far my most productive month. Just as in July, my only ailment is my right foot. It aches badly when I get up in the morning, but the pain subsides very quickly once I walk around. It hasn't hindered me at all while running. I keep telling myself the pain isn't caused by stress fractures b/c my assumption would be that pain associated with stress fractures wouldn't subside once I become active. I do not plan to go to a doctor until the pain is present when I run.

Other than running, life is going well. Work is difficult at times but Allie and Paige help me through it. Thank God for them.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

July 2008

Despite it being hotter than hell this month, I was able to log 140 miles. This is the second most miles I've logged in a single month - January 2008 being the highest at 160. Given that I fell apart physically in February and March, I'm anxious to see how the next few weeks will go. I'm experiencing minor aches and pains, but nothing serious. Mostly, I'm dealing with a sore right arch on my foot and achy knees. Fortunately, my hips are holding up to the increased mileage.

Last night I decided to re-dedicate myself to slowly losing about 10 more pounds over the next 4 months. That'll put me at about 174 pounds on race day. If I happened to get any lower than that I might just start out running with the Kenyans and Ethopians up front. I created an Excel spreadsheet this morning to help with counting calories. This method should ensure that I don't eat too many or, just as importantly, too few calories.

I ended up purchasing about a year's worth of shoes this month. Generally, runners are very particular about their shoes, so when you find one you like its a good idea to buy in bulk. I found great deals online and purchased four pairs of New Balance 768s.

I also registered for the White Rock Marathon taking place on December 14 in Dallas. Jeff Christ planned to run Houston in January, but the event sold out quickly. I didn't want that to happen to me so I went ahead and paid the $107 to get registered.

Monday, July 14, 2008


I was tagged by a fellow Runner's World Forumite to list 6 random things about myself.

1. I dream daily about taking a trip to Europe - I've never been.
2. My favorite color is green (Kelly Green to be exact).
3. I have two brothers that live in Ireland (they're awesome kids).
4. I played organized baseball from the time I was 5 years old all the way through high school.
5. I plan to run (and hopefully survive) the Dallas White Rock Marathon on December 14, 2008.
6. My favorite television show of all time is Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO).

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Marathon Prep

I'm set to begin marathon preparation at the end of June. I've got a day planner in which every run I'll be doing over the 24 weeks of training is written down . I enjoy having the ability to look at any given day and know exactly how far and fast (speed is relative of course) I'm supposed to run. The structure will keep me from making excuses and needlessly moving workouts around - which I do now when I don't want to get out of bed.

Every book, magazine, and website I've read states that first time marathoners should not worry about a time goal. For me, the time goal is a large motivational factor. With that being the case, I've set three seperate goals. One for the best case scenario - perfect weather, great night sleep beforehand, no nagging injuries - which is a 3:30 finish time. My fallback time goals are 3:45 and 4:00. 3:30 is a pretty lofty goal, especially given my history of minor nagging injuries (foot and hip) and lack of experience running 26.2 miles at one time.

I'm using the month of June to increase the consistency of my runs. Over the past few months I've only averaged about 25 miles a week and didn't always get in a decent long run. This month I've structured each week similar to the first week of the official training program. This should help me make it through the first few weeks of marathon training a little easier.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Still in Austin

Today was my second day of running in Austin. I ran along the hike/bike trial parallel to the river on the south side of town. I ran east until the trail seemed to end (in the ghetto). Then, I ran back to the hotel using Cesar Chavez Blvd. It was an interesting run that allowed me to get a closer look at a part of the city that few people choose to visit. I ended up only running 4 miles according to mapmyrun.com. I plan to get in another decent run this evening to make up the distance I missed.

I've been eating so poorly on the trip that I've taken to riding a stationary bike in the hotel workout room before bed. It allows me to sleep a little better knowing that I worked off some of the guacamole that I consumed.

Monday, May 5, 2008


I'm in Austin this week for a bus conference. I flew in on Sunday, the 4th, and will be flying out Wednesday afternoon. Before leaving, I decided that I would work hard to get plenty of sleep, eat right, and run during the conference. I usually fail to do all three. Last night I went to bed at about 9:30 - which was a good start. I woke up at 6:00 this morning and headed out for a run.

Unfortunately, my Garmin died about 5 minutes into the run. Somehow the battery went out even though I had charged it for several hours over the weekend in preparation for my trip. I was pretty unhappy at first, but decided to make the best of it.

My hotel is on the southern end of downtown near the convention center (4th and San Jacinto - Residence Inn). I ran north up San Jacinto/Congress toward the Capital building and UT. I enjoyed running through the campus. It was pretty dead at this time of the morning, which I appreciated b/c running in traffic is not much fun. Generally speaking the campus is pretty nice. Much different than Harding, but it has a lot of character for a university of its size (50,000 students I think).

Running around the Capital was fun also. Its a pretty awesome building that puts many other state capitals to shame. After circling the capital, I ran west on 6th street in order to check out REI and the shopping center on the west side of downtown. Of course REI was closed, but I wanted to make sure I knew where it was b/c I plan to head back there during the trip.

After visiting REI, I headed back to the hotel. Fortunately, the hotel has a hot contentinental breakfast and I sure made use of it. The Texas shaped waffles were awesome.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


This Saturday I ran my first "race" since the White Rock Half. It was more of a "fun run" than a race. The event was sponsored by the Denton County Health Department as a way to increase the activity of citizens in Denton County. Being the good citizen that I am, naturally I wanted to participate. I also wanted to see how much faster I could run since I've been pain free and have lost weight since my first 5K last summer. Unfortunately, I didn't get an accurate 5k time. According to my Garmin the course was only 2.86 miles rather than the 3.1 which equals 5K. We also didn't wear timing chips so I wouldn't really have an official time even if the course was long enough. On the bright side, the event was a success in that there were a whole bunch of overweight people out there jogging and walking the course. Then they proceeded to eat their body weight in bananas, oranges, and free smoothies after the race.

One important lesson I learned is that I shouldn't eat before a 5K. I didn't throw up my breakfast, but if I had run all-out I think I might have. Even though I held back a little, I still ran decent times over the first two miles. 7:17 and 7:15 respectively. That's pretty darn quick for me. Especially considering my first 5K time was 25:48. I really think with a little speed training and no breakfast I could get close to a 21:00 5K. That would be something.

Other than the 5K running is slow going. I'm in a bit of a rut. I think I overtrained there for a while and my body began breaking down. After taking a break b/c of my foot, it's been tough getting in a groove. I'm going to run 6 miles after posting this. Hopefully that will begin a more productive week.Also - my daughter turns 2 years old in 11 days. That's nuts.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tough Few Weeks

The last three weeks have been tough. I haven't posted anything new b/c I have only been running off and on due to foot pain. The tendons on the top of my foot appear to be bruised, inflamed, or something along those lines. I went to the doctor and received an X-Ray that came back negative. Luckily, it's not a stress fracture but my frustration continues b/c my doctor doesn't know what caused the problem. He just directed me to a podiatrist.

During this down time I joined the recreation center near our house. I started lifting weights and riding the stationairy bike in order to stay in shape. While cross-training is a good thing and will benefit me in the long run, it wasn't what I wanted to do. I wanted to keep building mileage until I could "easily" run 50 miles a week. I've averaged 15 miles over the last two weeks with a few hours of bike riding. Most of those miles were run on the treadmill - which is ridiculously boring (as is the bike for that matter). Fortunately, I do enjoy lifting weights.

My plan is for this to be my first official week back. I ran 6 miles yesterday and four this morning. I'll need to rework my running schedule, but I should be able to get in at least 25 miles this week. Perhaps 30 if I can manage at least 10 miles on Saturday.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Freakin' Fifteen

Saturday I completed a long week of running with a 15-mile run - my longest so far. The run went well and I finished strong. This week I made sure to eat more the night before and take a Gu Gel during my long run. Last week I ran 14-miles and was totally out of gas at the end. As I finished, I really felt that this was a major milestone that will help propel me toward the Marathon. Of course I still have a really long time until the White Rock Marathon, but if I can run 15 miles in January, there's not a doubt in my mind that I'll be able to run 26.2 miles in December.

My body held up decently to the 41 miles I ran this week. My knees are no more sore than usual and my hip isn't getting worse. I went in for an annual physical last week and found out that I have "minimal degenerative changes" in my left knee. Apparently that means I've got a mild case of arthritis. I was given the choice of an MRI or to continue taking Ibuprofen for a while to see if that reduces the inflammation in my knee and hip. I plan to take the Ibuprofen for a few months and as long as the pain doesn't get worse I'll hold off on the MRI. While my knees have bothered me since before college, this hip pain is new. I really can't even explain what it is, but my doctor and I assumed it was just inflammation. So far I've been able to handle the discomfort. Generally, it only hurts during the first quarter mile or so then it disappears completely. My doctor didn't say so, but I think continuing to lose weight and decreasing the strain on my joints will help a lot.

This coming week is a cut-back week. Every four weeks I take a break from increasing mileage and run fewer miles. I believe the shedule has me down for 32 miles. My overall running plan is to build up to 50 miles per week and run that amount consistently before adding speedwork. From everything I've read, its not a good idea to build mileage and include speed workouts at the same time. It greatly increases your chances of injury - which I desperately hope to avoid. If I can make it all year without a single overuse injury I would be very excited, and surprised.

This week I also decided to start counting calories - eaten and burned - to see if I could figure out why my weightloss had stopped. So far this has proved to be very beneficial. There for a while I fell into the practice of eating more than I should with the thought that I would run it off. Turns out I wasn't burning more than I was eating. Watching what I eat a little more closely allowed me to lose about 4 pounds this week.

Losing weight while trying to increase mileage is a bit tricky. I think 4 pounds in a week is excessive - I may have gotten carried away since this was my first week of adding everything up. I'll try to keep weightloss closer to 2 pounds per week over the next few months. That should bring my energy level back up and allow me to run more miles closer to 9 minute pace rather than 10 minute pace.

This thing has gotten long...Varner out.

P.s. You should run too, it's awesome.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Good Week

A few hours ago I finished my fifth run of the week. I always run my "long run" on Saturday because I have the time to run and rest afterward. Today I ran 13 miles. My current schedule has me increasing weekly mileage but my long run won't go over 15 miles until I get closer to real marathon training. I'm hoping to get up to 45-50 miles per week over the next couple of months. I'm trying to take a very conservative approach to training to stave off injury. A friend of mine from church who is also a runner recently went to the doctor and is afraid he probably has stress fractures in his lower legs. That's definitely something I want to avoid if possible.

This week I ran 36.5 miles. That's my third straight week over 30 miles. I felt strong all week and really didn't have as much soreness as I'm used to. Of course today my knees are pretty sore after the long run.

I've done some research and am pretty sure that I've got a bit of patellar tendinitis. After running I usually have some discomfort in my lower knee. I've found a wealth of information on the internet regarding how to treat the tendinitis and hopefully it won't be on ongoing issue. I'm also going to the doctor next week for an annual check-up so hopefully he can give me more information on treatment. It was much worse when I was in college, so I'm confident I can handle it.

On another note, Paige bought Allie a "potty" today. We're not planning to start all out potty training, but its time to introduce her to the idea. I can't wait until she can wipe her own butt.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Year in Review

According to my Runner's World running log, I ran 412.8 miles during the last 4 months of 2007. I began running in May but unfortunately didn't begin tracking miles until September. November and December were my most productive months - I ran 118 miles both months. Cumulatively I ran for 69:19:47, which is 2 days 21 hours. It sure felt like more than that. I realized yesterday that I ran just about every single mile on concrete - which is no bueno for the knees (which have been somewhat sore).

I ran three races throughout the course of 2007. One 5K, one relay (3.79 miles), and the half marathon. Lord willing, this will be the fewest races I'll run in a year.

I ended up reaching my goal weight of 200 pounds. I now have a revised goal weight of 185 (sounds ridiculous and unreachable to me), which I plan to discuss more when I post our 2008 goals and resolutions (if we ever get around to it).

Here are a few non-running events that took place:
1) Allie had her first birthday.
2) Paige and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary.
3) I completed my 3rd year in the "real world" as a DCTA employee.
4) We traveled to NYC and San Francisco.
5) Paige and I both turned 27

That's all I can think of at the moment. With Paige's assistance I'll add more later.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New Year Resolutions

I've never really sat down and thought long and hard about making New Year Resolutions. I've never used this as a time to plan out my next year or set goals and developing a plan to reach those goals. Perhaps this year should be different. It may be a good idea to sit down with Paige and Allie and decide what short term goals we'd like to accomplish in 2008 an what we can do this year to move toward our long term goals. It may also be a good idea to evaluate our long term goals to see if we're on the same page as a family. I think Paige and I will easily agree on the long term goals, but the implementation is where we'll probably do some head-butting. Through my education and training in Public Administration I've really learned to value and "sweat" the implementation side of things. Its not enough to set a goal, you have to work out how you will reach that goal, and details are the key. I'm not generally a detailed oriented person, but I know that goals must be measureable and you must have a semi-specific plan as to how those goals will be accomplished. Otherwise, you end up with great goals, such as making more money, or becoming a better Christian without any idea as to how those goals will be accomplished on a periodic basis. In many cases, setting intermediate goals provides wonderful benefits. You're able to see your progress and with each intermediate goal that is accomplished, you're motivated to reach the next goal.

Paige forwarded me an email from our church, Prestoncrest, regarding an outreach campaign they are starting to help people read the Bible in 2008. Each day you get an email with verses from the Bible. If you read the emails every day, you will have read throught the Bible in one year. Its steps like this that help us achieve our goals. With each goal, you have to determine what you'll do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis to further the achievement of that goal. Our annual goals aren't accomplished on December 31, they are accomplished bit by bit throughout the year. We have to make conscious efforts and base our daily decisions on those goals. Otherwise, they will be forgotten after the first week - which is generally the case with most Americans who make annual resolutions.

As Paige and I sit down and work through our plans for 2008, I'm sure we'll decide on many of the same goals or resolutions as most of the people I know (except the marathon thing). Where I hope we differ from most people will be the details we work on together that will help us accomplish those goals. It will undoubtedly be a challenge to follow the plan, and it may have to be amended here and there (afterall, plans aren't set in stone), but anything worth achieving is never easy.