Saturday, January 28, 2006


Here's the stats:

3.1 miles, 29:23
Mile 1: 8:43.53
Mile 2: 10:16.91
Mile 3 (+.1): 10:22.45

Then, 13.41 miles on the bike.
Max speed: 26.5
Time: 49:10
Average: 16.3

I had intended on setting a PR today at RTW. In fact, I was aiming for a sub 26 minute day. I shot out of the gates strong, but realized quickly in the second mile that I didn't have nearly the gas in the tank that I thought I did for such a silly notion. In the end, I missed the PR by 27 seconds. 27 stinking seconds. I won the post race raffle for the first time. Funny story about that...
At the very end I caught and passed Robin. I finished 93, she finished 94. The raffler calls the numbers and calls "94". After the race I forgot where I finished but knew it was 90-something. She said "94" and I waited a second... nobody said anything... so I said, "yea, that's me". I head over, grab the shirt, the head toward the covered breezeway where Robin greets me and asks "are you sure you were 94?" I said "no, but I'm close to that". She said "I'm 94, you passed me at the end and took 93". The next number called in the raffle was "93". She got a cool travel kit. All worked out well. We'll chuckle about it again next time.
It was a good run. Not a great run, but a good one. Check out what Holden, Cassie, Dave, and Jon have to say about the outing.

After that I had intended on hitting the roads for 20 or 30 miles, but after getting lost and the impenidng weather (the rain missed me almost entirely) I decided to pull the plug and not risk getting lost a second time. Yea, I'm a wuss, but that's ok. My bike will see more miles this year than most people ride in their lives.

Tomorrow is the FrostBike challenge. The first organized ride of the year. The weather promises to flat out suck. I have some stories about sucky weather bike rides I'll share tomorrow. Crappy weather riding is one thing--you can use mechanical advantage with the gears to alleviate most of the pain.

What do ya'll do when it starts coming down while you're running? There's no mechanical advantage to be found in a pair of soggy shoes.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

I'm a bit suprised

I’ve always said that I like the fact that America is different from “the rest of the world”.  We use “Feet”, they use “Meters”.  We have football, they have soccer.  We have plumbing, etc.

I was admittedly a little disturbed when soccer started catching on.  I had no interest in “meters” or going to the bathroom outside, and certainly didn’t care to see a bunch of grown men running around for 90 minutes trying to put a ball in a net.  My dog can put a ball in a net in about 15 minutes, and he doesn’t use his hands, either.  He doesn’t even have hands.

I was a little upset that after 5 years MLS didn’t vanish into thin air.  Men’s soccer didn’t have the Brandi Chastain/Mia Hamm soft porn factor to keep it afloat (see the SI issue of Brandi, topless, that kept men tuning in on the off chance they might see another girl in a sports bra), but it did have the world cup and international league play.

Ok, fine.  I can grudgingly accept Men’s Professional Soccer.  It’s mostly on the coasts, so I don’t care.  Plus they have teams like “The Whiz” which makes me chuckle every time.

Unfortunately, Houston is also on a coast (not to mention it has significant Hispanic population) and it was inevitable that MLS would come knocking.


Another minor league sport relegated to the middle of the sports section with Aeros coverage.  Plus they may help out my beloved Cougars upgrade their stadium.  Bonus.

But now I find myself strangely interested.

Maybe it was all the running with metric measurements (5k, 10k, 30k, etc) that has morphed into some weird interest in something that uses meters.

Maybe it’s the fact that they’ve selected a team name that wasn’t just pandering to a market demographic and was truly traditional.  Maybe it’s selecting a name of local significance.  Maybe it’s just all the publicity that’s catching my eye.

I don’t know.  But right now, this morning, I caught myself thinking “hm, maybe it’d be neat to catch the home opener of the Houston 1836 soccer club”.  I even used the term “Match”.


What’s wrong with me?


Of course, that might be the only game I ever actually pay to watch.  We shall see.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Triathlon and MS150 update

Ok, first the MS150 stuff.
I'm working out the finer points of "Team Breda" for the MS150.  The basics are this:
My brother and I were going to ride the BP ride together.  We haven't done this ride together since my first MS150 back in 2003.  In 2004 he and his wife had just given me a beautiful neice (ok, she's his daughter, but she's my neice, too) and he had to skip out.  2005 was the "Year of the Cap".  This year he got caught by the cap, too.
But he's still offering support.  Which is cool.
So, the tentative arrangement is a truck going there and meeting me (us) at the overnight in LaGrange.  The tents will be set up, beds made, and if we'll be pointed in whatever direction we need to be pointed.  Likewise, the next morning we'll have a hand tearing everything down and assistance with whatever before shoving off.  The truck (and trailer, if necessary) will then meet us in Austin with some kind of chow to throw, our gear, and whatnot.  From there you do as you wish.  That way you can avoid the big crowds of people--and there are big crowds of people.
It's like a real bike team.
If you're interested, let me know.  We have a big ass cabin tent that'll easily sleep a small village plus a second tent that can sleep a slightly smaller village.  We can pool some cash and procure ammenities as we desire.
The alternative is arriving in LaGrange whenever, then finding your gear, then finding a tent pad, then setting everything up, then cleaning up, then finding food, then getting about 30 minutes of sleep before it's time to get up and take off.  It's so much nicer to have folks waiting for you.
Triathlon stuff...
I'm going to have to find a pool.  There are so many tris in the spring that I'm just going to have to skip if I can't get into a pool.  I think I'll enter into negotiations with the local YMCA to let me swim at the heated pool on Stella Link even though my membership is up here at the Heights location.  Maybe I'll upgrade the membership.  We'll see.
Running stuff...
Guess who's planning to be in the Woodlands this weekend.

Now it begins

The quest for my first Triathlon medal/trophy is on.

I’ve gone out and spent money on some triathlon shorts.  These things are basically cycling shorts with a smaller chamois (butt pad) that won’t chafe when you run nor retain as much water when you swim.  Plus the fabric feels lighter, thinner, and stronger than my traditional unitaskers so the full body of the shorts shouldn’t retain as much water either.

Now if I can successfully shake this cold that’s been dogging me for the last week or so I might actually get a chance to use my new toy.


Training recap

I re-read most of my posts since July and could almost track my mood along the way.  I remember almost all the bumps and bruises that came during the training.  I remember the despair when the shins protested and I wasn't sure I'd be able to run at all.  I remember the despair...  the dryness...  the disinterest... the euphoria...  the billowing momentum.  All the various undulations of my mood.  Almost always, at the very bottom of the trough, there was some inspiration I found--whether it was remembering the very depth of agony in 2005 or something from another blogger post, or something entirely different--that picked me up.
But the real reason I was reading the blog archives was to see how much I really trained for this thing.  I posted each and every run I did online, without fail.  The recap:
July:  7 miles (2 days)
August: 28.1 miles (5 days)
September: 32.65 (6 days)
October:  32.02 (7 days)
November: 20 (4 days)
December: 37.6 (6 days)
January: 3 (1 day)
Actually looking at it is a bit embarrasing. 
That's 31 days of actual running spread over 7 months.  A cumulative 160.37 miles.
By all rights I shouldn't be walking right now.  I shouldn't have finished the marathon.
I was talking back in August about busting off a 20 mile week... I barely had 30 mile MONTHS.
I was talking at the start of my training of having 40 mile weeks leading into the marathon... I didn't run 40 miles in any month of training, and only ran 20 miles in a single week.
The month of October featured 6 runs of 3 or 3.4 miles and 1 run of 13.5 miles.  the month of November featured a single run of 11 miles and 3 runs of 3 miles, and I considered that a good month.
December featured 3 runs of 3 miles, 1 4 miler, 1 6 miler, and the 30k (which is NOT 18 miles).
That's it.
Most of my runs were 3 to 6 miles, and I didn't have that many runs.
Now I wonder what might have happened if I really focused and actually stuck to a running program of 2 or 3 runs a week of 6 to 9 miles.
Well, let me qualify that.
That's "wonder" in an academic sense, not an experimental sense.
I'm retired from marathoning.
I'm a little perplexed, but retired.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Stupid games with stopwatches

I mentioned here that me and my brothers have some pretty stupid competitions with a stopwatch.
Actually, we have a lot of stupid competitions.  I'm currently considering suggesting a "Who can go the longest with a half beard" competition.  You know, shave either the left or right side of your face and only that side, and see how long you can go before your boss, wife, or pride makes you shave the other side.
Since I have a boss, both me and my older brother have a wife, and my little brother has neither boss, wife, nor pride, I suspect he'll win that one.  But I'm willing to suggest the competition just to see if the goon will do it.
So, the competition with the stop watch is this:
How quickly can you start and stop the stop watch?
Stupid, right?
It keeps us occupied for hours.  What simple folk we are.


Lots of pictures of the sunrise on M-day.
Admittedly, I didn't notice it much other than in passing, but I knew it was pretty.  I just had other things on my mind.
As a side note, did you know that a photo of a sunrise looks exactly like a photo of a sunset?
It's true.

The results are final

Seeing that I finished 364 out of 387 in my age bracket hurts my pride just a little...  hhmmm.

Full Name: Joseph Breda
Chip Time: 5:30:58
Gun Time: 5:35:04
Event Category: Marathon

Division: MALES 30 TO 34
Place over division: 364th of 387 Males aged 30 to 34
Place over gender: 3174th of 3416 Males
Place overall: Placed 4884th of 5404 Total Finishers

Split Times
6.2 Mile: 1:13:08
13.1 Mile: 2:32:00
18.6 Mile: 3:45:21

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Ham Whiz?

What is Ham Whiz you ask?
Well, lets just say I have a long and sordid past.
Just kidding.  In college (UH) there was this closed circuit TV station called the Student Video Network.  It was broadcast on the "Blue Network" as we called it to every dorm room and office that was plugged unto the UH on campus cable network.  A whopping 2500 to 3500 outlets.
Since there was the TV station laying around, a bunch of the students got together and started making shows.  There was this group called The Young Pups.  Funny stuff.  You can see clips at  Be close to the bathroom, though.  You very likely may wet your pants while watching.
One night, after running out of beer, my roommate and I said "We could do that".  So, we went down to the studio and started learning how to make TV shows.  A few months went by and I gravitated to a live "comedy" show called Pirate TV.  We meandered around and I learned some stuff about pre-recorded shows from the Young Pups.
Next thing you know, over the summer, me and another buddy come up with an idea for another "comedy" show.  Luckily I was now the Vice Chair of Operations at the studio and the one who approved stuff that would get on the air, which means any crap I put to tape would make it to air.  So, we put together this show that was about 5:00 of funny crammed into 30 minutes of show.  The next semester we did it again, but this time there was a solid 10 minutes of funny.  The third episode of Ham Whiz will air in the spring.
What is Ham Whiz, though?  Well, if you have liquid cheeze and liquid bread, the only thing you need to have a drinkable sandwich is liquid ham.  Hence, the creation of Ham Whiz.  (I actually made some of the stuff, put it on a cracker, and ate it.  We also discovered it was a great way to make a cracker stick to a wall.)
That was my 15 minutes of "fame".  It was fun.  It was also all destroyed in Alison.
If you're ever at UH and near a TV, feel free to flip on channel 6.  Maybe even call the studio and ask why they never play Ham Whiz anymore and snicker at their complete lack of knowledge at this minor blip in their studio's historical records.

Friday, January 20, 2006


Check it out.
Photographic proof that I'm a big fat fatty who ran a marathon.
They even got a couple of photos from the crampy, laboring miles.
This is me hollerin' something at someone in Memorial park.  That's proof in and of itself that I was cranking along pretty well.  If I'm goofing around, I'm in a pretty damn good mood.  I don't generally talk much when I run anyway (imagine that, me shutting my yap), but when things are going bad I don't open my yap at all.
This is me actually somewhat kind of smiling.
This looks like it was the tail end of Allen Parkway.  Hang loose.
This shot was taken right at the moment a cramp set in.  I remember this point vividly because I thought to myself "damnit, there's a camera right there, too."  Looks pleasant, don't it?
And of couse, this is victory.  I was number 4884 to cross the line after 5:30:58 on the chip, and I won.  See how much more energy it looks 2 folks behind me?  Despite the cramping and my assertations to the contrary when Jon was running with me, I still had a little something left in the tank.  I have to admit it, it was pretty sweet.
Tomorrow, if the weather holds, I ride.  I can't wait.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

New look, new goals.

Ok so I updated and upgraded the old blog last light.

I’m still working on getting a sidebar over on the left for my trophy case, but I’ll steal someone’s code on that later.

Now that the marathon is behind me 2006 can officially begin.  The natural question to ask is, “what next?”  That’s easy.  I’m in no mood to slow down.

Other than having a baby with my beautiful wife (she was the one I brought to the pasta party) I’ve got 3 trophies I’d like to add to my case:


  1. Triathlon.  I’ve got my eye on a couple already, but everything will be controlled by the passing of the moon and sun.  The window for swimming opens only after Memorial Day and will close in early August right before baby TBA comes around.  So, I have a very short time to get up to speed swimming since I probably won’t be traveling to any Triathlons after baby TBA and mommy begin taking all my free time.  The first likely candidate is June 11, 2 days before I turn 31 but only 2 weeks after the pool opens.  Can you say “Hello weight room!”?  So far the next best opportunity comes at the end of July.  I’m hoping more opportunities to Tri and succeed will present themselves soon.
  2. That’s 2 as in “Two-thousand miles on my bike”.  3 Texas MS150s (the triple chain-ring challenge, as I like to call it) will help that along by eating up ¼ of those miles, but there will still be the matter of riding, riding, riding.  Why 2000 miles?  Because I want to finish the MS150s in a cumulative 30 hours in the saddle.  That takes a lot of training considering only 1 of the rides is less than 155 miles long.  Estimated distance for the MS150s (they’ve changed at least 1 route this year) is 520 miles, so that means an AVERAGE of 17.5mph.  That’s fast… faster than I’ve ever gone over any significant distance.  I generally average around 16mph for any distance beyond 20 miles or so—and that was before hanging up the ride in favor of running shoes last summer.  Plus the last MS150 is 6 weeks after baby TBA is allegedly due.  It’s either going to be the hardest ride of them all or the fastest so that I can get home quick—if I even go at all.  There’s a very real possibility that I’ll opt to stay home and forgo the coveted “Triple Chain-Ring Trophy” that I’ll create for myself.  After all, being a dad is a helluva lot cooler than saying “I rode all 3 MS150s in a year—again”.  Then again, if I go I get to be both.
  3. This is 3 as in “3.1 miles in less than 25 minutes”.  That’s right; I’m setting a running goal.  Quit your snickering.  So far my fastest single mile in my recorded running history is 8:16 and my fastest average for 3 miles is 9-something.  Besides, in the off chance that I decide to come out of retirement next January something like this will keep me tuned up to begin adding miles again in October—after my biking season will come to a close.


Through this all I should even drop a pound or two, which would be a nice bonus.

Coming soon—Team Breda MS150 details.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Finish cam is on line—very different from Finnish cam.

It’s a very clever idea, what will they think of next?

Go to:

Or, more officially:


See your friends, family, enemy, or self finish.


Monday, January 16, 2006

One last note before I shut my mouth for a few days

I'm trying to make sure I cover all my bases.
It occurs to me that I never mentioned the adventure of getting to the marathon.
All the "runners" set their alarms for 4, or stayed in hotels, or woke up before the alarm and bounded out of bed.
Not me.
I woke up at 5 with my alarm.  Hit the snooze.
Reluctantly dragged myself out of bed 9 minutes later.
Gathered my stuff up.  Ate some bread and peanut butter and drank some milk (you drank what?  yes, milk.).
At a quarter to 6 I didn't leave the house yet.
At 8 till my phone rang--it was the guy I was supposed to pick up 7 minutes ago.
At 5 till I finally left the house.
2 minutes later I'm at my friend's house and heading to GRB.
We arrive at 20 after or so and part company.
I go to the HRB banner, but everyone (no suprise) is gone since you're all runners and have already been there for an hour.
I finish getting dressed, check my bag, bump into Jess and Jen, and head for the portacans.
After completing my morning "process" I head out.
About 100 yards from the chutes, the gun sounds, then I have to start searching for an entrance to the corals.
There's a worker who has propped open one of the chutes, so I slip in and ...  we're off!
That's probably the funniest adventure of the whole run.

Finally, Mile Splits!!! (and a bit of a recap)

Ok, so I've analyzed the mile by mile splits of my marathon.
Best mile: 6.
Worst mile: 24 (as expected).
Most curious suprise: My times actually started decreasing from 24 to the end. The last .2 miles was actually run at a 11:38 clip. Wow.

Mile 1 10:47.1 10:47.1
Mile 2 13:28.8 11:32.7
Mile 3 09:36.5 11:32.7
Mile 4 11:40.4 11:40.4
Mile 5 11:27.5 11:27.5
Mile 6 09:26.0 09:26.0
Mile 7 11:06.6 11:06.6
Mile 8 10:28.4 10:28.4
Mile 9 11:47.4 11:47.4
Mile 10 07:17.1 11:34.1
Mile 11 15:51.2 11:34.1
Mile 12 04:32.1 11:54.0
Mile 13 19:15.9 11:54.0
Mile 14 12:23.5 12:23.5
Mile 15 13:53.9 13:53.9
Mile 16 12:36.8 12:36.8
Mile 17 12:39.0 12:39.0
Mile 18 13:48.0 13:48.0
Mile 19 13:56.2 13:56.2
Mile 20 13:43.3 13:43.3
Mile 21 13:42.2 13:42.2
Mile 22 14:36.1 14:36.1
Mile 23 15:30.5 15:30.5
Mile 24 16:22.9 16:22.9
Mile 25 14:34.4 14:34.4
Mile 26 14:06.6 14:06.6
0.2 02:19.7 02:19.7

Total time: 5:30:58

Final 0.02 Pace: 11:38.3

The first column is the actual splits recorded. I missed the Mile 3 flag, so mile 2 is long. I shut mile 10 down early for some reason, so 11 is long. Same with mile 12--I don't run a 4:32 mile. So, I took the two consecutive miles and averaged them to get good statistical data.

This is what the marathon looks like (if this works, otherwise make your own chart)

Mile 6 is legitimately 9:26. I remember looking at the watch and saying to myself "Whoa! Key it back a little!" There isn't anything particularly special about that stretch of pavement except it's where I passed the fat Elvis (who wasn't really fat, but certainly wasn't the young Elvis, either). I must have just fallen into my groove. Just after mile 9 I passed my church. I didn't get a good look at the crowd, but someone was right there yelling "Way to go Joe Breda!!!" That was a pleasant suprise.
Right before mile 10 is where I had communion on the run from the Anglican church. They were also sprinkling holy water on us. That was nice of them. I figured since I was skipping church (though there was plenty of prayer) the least I could do was have communion.
Miles 22, 23, and 24 I was clearly running out of steam. I guess that's what they mean by "the wall". That's when the cramping issues began. Not so oddly enough, mile 24 is when my lovely wife arrived with the bananas. Yum. Times started dropping after that and culminated in the kick assest finish ever. That's right, the best pace since mile 11. I ran by Bill Dwyer on that little stretch who told me I was handsome. Damn right I'm handsome. Can you say adrenaline? Can you say "Finish Big"? That's right, we're all Kenyans.
Despite the cramping issues and the tank being pegged right on "E", I knew good and well that I was going to finish. I had a big smile plastered on my mug for the last 10 miles. There was no stopping from that point. I was on top of the world. I had some real long conversations with my cramping muscles, but that was the only cussing going on Sunday. I was finishing. I knew it. It felt good.
I wish there were more stories from the road. There's only so many times and ways I can say "and the crowd was awesome" and "damn, I felt good right there".

With that in mind, I've been thinking about what my worst stretch was and I think I've figured it out. It was Sunday through Wednesday last week. Yea, I know the marathon didn't start until yesterday, but by the time the marathon started running the 26.2 miles was just a technicality. When I wandered into the coral a few seconds--maybe a minute--after the gun (yes, I missed the start) there was no question in my mind as to whether or not I was going to finish this thing. But from Sunday to Wednesday there were real doubts as to whether or not I could or would or should do this thing.

That was the low point. Once I shut that door Wednesday night, the game was on. There's a reason I was smiling at the end. There's a reason I was smiling at the begining. It may have taken me 5 and a half hours, but I owned that run. 4909 people may have finished before me, but that doesn't matter. I straight up owned it.


I found "Monica's" finishing information.  Since her cheering crew was a big part of my own run and her finish was a big part of mine--I wasn't about to let her break the rules at the very end--I figured I'd post her data for posterity's sake.  I'll remove the last name and bib number.  Not that you couldn't figure it out from the Marathon site or anything.
Thanks again, Monica--whoever you are.

MONICA ----------  (MAR)  | Bib #----  |  KINGWOOD, TX - USA  |  Age --  |  -    MAPTRACK 
START 6.2 Mile 13.1 Mile 18.6 Mile FINISH
7:02:05 AM CST  1:10:49  2:30:19  3:42:40 05:32:48
TIME  Chip Time: 05:32:48  Clock: 05:35:06 Pace: 12:41
 Placement  Overall: 4912  Gender: 1731  Division: 297

The doldrums

I was looking over the time splits from the route—not the mile by mile stuff, that’ll come later.

Here is the data feed from the website:


 JOSEPH BREDA  (MAR)  | Bib #5728  |  HOUSTON, TX - USA  |  Age 30  |  M   



6.2 Mile

13.1 Mile

18.6 Mile


7:03:53 AM CST






 Chip Time: 05:30:58

 Clock: 05:35:04

Pace: 12:37


 Overall: 4910

 Gender: 3180

 Division: 365



So, I start doing what I do and looking at the 4 segments and comparing them to each other and discovered that the 5.5 mile stretch between 13.1 and 18.6 was my worst stretch of the 4.  I was clearly hitting some kind of running equivalent of the doldrums at that point.


The ranking of the splits (best to worst):  1, 2, 4, 3.

I expected something different.


While I got progressively slower this year from start to finish—I “gave back” a full 30 minutes off my starting pace of 5:00:00—the stretch that I gave back the most time was the third split.  My pace went from 11:07 in the first segment to 11:25 in the second marking a slow down of :18.  In the 3rd segment I ran a 13:20 mile pace, which is 1:54 slower than the second.  In the fourth I only gave back 1:06 from the previous segment.  So, as I slowed during the run, I slowed the most in the 3rd segment.

Oddly enough, I don’t remember any physical problems during that segment—all of the physical problems came in the last part of the race AFTER the 30k mark. 


I just slowed down—a lot.  Maybe that’s all it was.


I would have thought the times would have told me something different.  In fact, I distinctly remember a wave of euphoria when I crossed the Westpark Hump.  When I crossed the top of that teeny-tiny hill I let out a good holler and the adrenaline was pumping.  It felt like I was surging past the point where I just couldn’t go on last year.  I saw the medical tent and the hydration stand that I distinctly remember last year behind a fog of desperation of the last fading shreds of hope and remember thinking “not this year”.  I thought that segment was going to be one of my best, not my worst.


I’m now extra curious to see what the mile-by-mile splits tell me.

The morning after

I’m a little creaky.

I actually feel better today than I did after the 30k.

I’m trying to remember what the lowest points were yesterday, but I’m not remembering any of them.  I saw family/friends at mile 8, then right around 9, then right past the Westpark hump.  After that was mile 15, 16, and 18, so there wasn’t really a chance to get down.  Once we made the turn onto Woodway I was officially into uncharted territory as I had never run that distance before and I was going plenty strong.  That was also a boost.

Woodway and Memorial were well populated with well wishers and supporters, plus it was familiar territory so that was a good stretch, too.  I even saw Keith walking up the path (see link at the left).

Once the route made it to Allen Parkway—also familiar territory—there was a realization that it was in the bag.  I had an hour to run 3 miles and barring any horrible complication or malfunction there was nothing stopping me.  It didn’t hurt that the skyline was looming in the distance and the finish line—or at least the finish line’s neighborhood—was clearly in sight.

Issues with cramping had begun just a little bit before then.  There were the quads right above the knees on both legs, then the right hamstring, then the left calf.  I had a nice, long discussion with the offending body parts and told them that cramping or not, they were crossing the finish line.  They could either make it easy or hard.  They complied.  Luckily my lovely wife and a friend were right along the route with bananas, oranges, and advil.  I think the last place I saw them was the last dip in AP where I needed the sustenance the most.

Then came Sarah and Jess cheering somewhere close to mile 24 and Jon picked me up right past there.  By then I was running in about 2 minute bursts, but Jon got me to mile 25 on a solid pace.

From that point it was 1.2 miles to glory.

I can’t really think of a particularly bad mile or stretch of miles.  The part that should have been the worst of it all—the last 5—was actually the best because I KNEW I was finishing.  Unlike last year there was no “I can’t”.  There was no “I can’t go on”, “I can’t ignore the pain”, nothing like that.  There was a plan.  It’s all about the training.  It’s all about the support.  I knew my pace.  I knew my thresholds.  I executed the plan.

Sunday, January 15, 2006


That's it.  I finished.
I am Jack.
I am Dianna.
I am Luther.
I am Don.
I am Gina.
I am Kelly.
I am Stephen.
I am the Fisher clan.
I am the one everyone on the course was screaming for and who everyone put out signs for.
I was a Kenyan.
I crossed the line in 5:35 and change.
Now I can "retire".
Mad props to the HRBers.  You guys rock.  Straight up rock, no question about it.
Thanks to Jon who ran with me from 24 to 25.
Everyone I saw on the course--you were a huge boost.
And then there was my lovely wife who was a straight up angel with the banannas and cliff bars and goo just when I needed them the most.  FREAKIN' AWESOME!
Special congratulations to Michelle who was running her first marathon and I paced off of for about a mile and a half in the first couple of miles on Allen Parkway.
Special thanks to Fat Elvis who I saw somewhere before mile 9 and the first thought that went through my head was "I can't let that guy stay in front of me."
Special thanks also to Monica's crazy-huge cheering section.  She was in the general vacinity of me for just about the last 16 miles and as they cheered for her, I thought to myself "I'm Monica."
I stopped for a well needed potty break and lost track of her for 5 miles near the end, but found her in my sights, then caught her between 25 and 26.  After I passed Monica, she charged up and caught back up to me, then faltered a bit.  I looked over my shoulder and said "I've paced you for 16 miles and spent the last mile and a half catching you.  You're not quitting on me now."  She said "I'm going to puke" and I replied "You puke after you cross the finish line.  It's allowed over there.  Don't you quit on me."  She finished strong--but I beat her.
That's the cliff's notes version of the recap.  I'll tell more later.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Adventures at the expo

Before I get to the fun bit from the Expo, riddle me this.
What self respecting distance/endurance runner pays $7 to park across the street from the Expo when there are plenty of parking spots that cost less than $.50 within 1/2 mile from the front door?  I mean, really.  Tomorrow you're going to be running at least 3 miles and you can't hike 2 blocks to the front door?  2 BLOCKS?!?  Really now.  You should be ashamed of yourself.

But enough of that already.
Today at the Expo I earned my boy scout credits.
I'm heading out the door and see something odd.  A half pint little blonde cutie heading in the other direction without an attached full pint person.
I figure we're about 5 seconds from a full blown "I CAN'T FIND MY MOMMY" meltdown, so I follow her for 4.5 seconds until she emerges from the crowd, kneel down next to her right at the point of combustion and ask her if her mommy's lost and if she'd like me to help her mommy become found.
Meltdown avoided.
We headed down to the activity stage where I explained to the fellow with the microphone that me and Korina had a lost mommy.  He looked at me, looked at the 4 year old girl standing next to me, looked back at me with a puzzled look, and I further explained that the little girl was found so it was her mommy who was clearly lost.
Mommy comes down, family reunited, everyone lives happily ever after.
I got my chip.  The packet distribution girls were thoroughly perplexed when I asked if there was any ranch dip for the chip.
There wasn't.  Figures.
After the expo I drove a portion of the route--the portion that was the source of my demise last year.  That hill doesn't look so big this year.
I am so pumped.
24 hours from now I'll be sitting at Denny's finishing breakfast wearing my medal.

Weekend agenda

Last night was the first good night's sleep I've gotten in 3 days.  Over the last 3 days I think I've slept a total of 8 or 9 hours.  Last night I selpt a solid 9.
There's a few supplies yet to get and a schedule to prepare for the morning.
Then eat, rest, and run.
Am I ready?  That's irrelevant at this stage of the game. 
I'm as ready as I'll ever be.  Lets do this thing.
See you at Big George.

Friday, January 13, 2006


All the bloggers were at dinner and 3 people still visited my blog.
I should have installed a site tracker sooner.

Mental illness

Something remarkable happened today which I think is a sure sign of mental illness.

I’m walking down the hall to deliver some journal entries to accounting.

I pass a clock.  It says “3:20”.  That is not remarkable at all.  Coincidental, maybe.  But certainly not remarkable.

A few minutes later (11, to be exact) I pass the same clock and it reads “3:31” as most clocks do 11 minutes after they display 3:20.

That, too, can be generally regarded as unremarkable.  The various functions of clocks shouldn’t be a mystery to any of us who have lived any portion of our lives in the 20th century. 

Had the clock read 3:31 5000 years ago, that would have been a remarkable mystery to the ancients who gazed upon it.  This is partly because they would have never seen a digital readout before and partly because they would have no concept of electricity.  In fact, had we gazed upon the clock 5000 years ago we very rightly would have been amazed due to the startling lack of electricity coursing through the world at the time and the equally startling lack of our being born so very long ago.  It’s quite a trick to look at a digital clock before you are born and it’s an even greater trick to do it before either electricity or digital clocks have been discovered or invented.

Had the clock read something other than 3:31, being 11 minutes past 2:20, that may have been grounds to consider something remarkable had happened.  Had the clock read, say, 4:35, that would have been remarkable considering a full 1 hour and 15 minutes would have been recorded in a mere 11 minutes time.  Time travel can be a wonderful thing, but during the work day it can become a rather stressful skill.  During your own leisure time it is not only dangerous but also very ill advised due to the significant possibility of becoming your own grandfather.  However, the prospect of traveling back into time to deposit a coin in a bank and become a fantastically rich super billionaire is appealing, the rules of economics guarantees that your billions will become so devalued during the ensuing years by inflation that the notion is hardly practical.  Also, the notion of traveling back from a resource poor time to salvage natural resources from a resource rich time can have several and disastrous consequences—though some inquiring minds suspect that is exactly what is happening today.

Finally, had the clock read 97:61 it could have been considered remarkable because there is no such time according to our usual and universally accepted manner of recording time.  Of course, the term “universal” only refers to earthly time keeping, since we have no real idea what units are used in the various and sundry extra-solar systems in the vast, vast stretches of mostly empty space surrounding us.



That said, the wholly remarkable thing that happened as I passed the clock 2 times in 11 minutes was this:

The first thought that popped into my head was “hmm, that’s a little less than a mile at marathon pace.”


I’d kindly appreciate you runners getting out of my head, now.

Confession time

I’m sure at least a couple of you have been waiting for it. 

Here it is.


I’ve been running for 12 years.  I don’t even own a bike.  I made all that stuff about cycling up.

I’ve finished 6 half marathons, 4 30k-s, 1 full marathon, and 1 ultra.  Last year I had a bit of a cold.  That’s why I couldn’t finish the full.  In retrospect I probably shouldn’t have been running at all.  This year I’ve been recovering from a freak knee injury—thus the crappy times.



The above is what I would have typed had I been yanking your chains all this time.

As it turns out, I’m merely yanking your chains today.

I crack myself up sometimes.  See you at dinner, if you’re coming out.  Otherwise I’ll see you in front of Big George.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


One of the most annoying phrases in the world is “you paid too much for that”.  There’s two reasons that’s annoying:

  1. You have no idea how much is “too much” for me to pay.  It may have been more than you’re willing to pay, but unless you’re willing to shop on my behalf for equal or better quality and equal or lower prices, then keep your unhelpful opinion to yourself.  The basic laws of economics say that if I paid for something, then the price was set at the precise point where my desire to posses said object overwhelmed my desire to hold on to my money—ostensibly to use for some other function be it save, give, or otherwise spend.
  2. People spend all damn day complaining about crappy service or shoddy workmanship or just plain unreliability of just about everything they own.  “My phone always drops coverage at ‘X’.  My car is a piece of crap.  This food sucks.  Service here is horrible.  My apartment is too small.  My neighborhood is a disaster.”  Yea, right, and I paid too much.  Maybe, just maybe, I could be wrong here, but maybe you paid too little and that’s why you’re always complaining about the crap you bought.

I can see it

Clear as Christmas.  There’s the line.  5:48:27 on the big timer clock.  A big blue banner that says “Chevron Houston Marathon”.

The crowd—diminished, but still there—cheering politely.  Some understand that those who finish in over 5 hours have scaled a higher mountain than those who finish in under 3 (not that any of runners’ accomplishment is any less significant) and those folks are loud.  You are a rock star.  You are elite.  Today, you’re a Kenyan.

And there it is.

5:48:27…  28…  29…   30… 31…   finish.


And then it comes.  The moment.  The solitary moment of finishing.  The summit.  That brief, fleeting moment of solitude when you place your feet where others have trod before, but only you presently stand.  Everything moves in slow motion.  You are Hakeem Olijuwon leaning on the scorer’s table soaking it all in.  You are Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio patting each other on the shoulder sharing a moment that only they really know.  You are Vince Young awash in confetti.  You are Lance Armstrong in Paris.  You are, for one brief, fleeting moment, victory.  Not victorious, but simply victory.  You embody it.  You own it.  Everything is quiet.  For that moment you are not exhausted.  You are not spent.  You feel no pain.


I’ll see you there.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Text alerts and the first twangs of nerves

Ok, so I just signed up the fam to check in on me during the race so they can intercept me at the various points.
Then I ran through the blogroll to check in on folks.  You guys rock.  I'll keep an eye out for you at the finish line ('cause most of you will already be there when I come around).
There are so many great stories.  Did I mention you guys rock?
And then the neves start acting up.
I know it's just nerves.  Gut nerves, nothing else.
2 deep breaths.
I can do this.
I can do this.
I can do this.
I can do this.
I can do this.
Stay calm.
Tomorrow I gather supplies and watch Chariots of Fire (for the first time in my life).  If it's good, I'll watch it again Saturday.

Check me out...

Now that I'm 4 days away from "retiring" from my marathon running career, I've added a site meter.
Great timing, eh?

A couple of things

Yesterday's fishwrap had a story of a blind kid running the half.  Neat.
Today has a check who donated a kidney 18 months ago.  Wow.
Plus, Dalton Pulsipher has been spotted in the section formerly known as "Houston" (but is now just a marketing gimmick).
The quickening drumbeat of running features reminds me of Tour de France coverage.  1 month of stories, 1 week of daily stories, then 11 months of a lot of nothing.
Dear Fox,
If you're the only news channel that has a story, it could be because it's an exclusive.  On the other hand, it could be because it's not news.  I understand you and the powers that be at Fox may give a crap about what minor fame hungry waiter is on stage screeching a bad rendition of a Mariah Carey song.  I understand you may be getting a kick out of pathetic, no talent losers wailing away that they deserve "r-e-s-p-e-c-t" but couldn't sing their way out of a paper bag.  I understand that ya'll may think that it's more important than such minor news stories such as... oh, I don't know... Iran restarting their nuclear program, but that doesn't make it news.
There are these things called commercials.  Companies pay money for them.  Maybe ya'll should look into that concept.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Blogger siting

We have yet another blogger appearing in the daily fishwrap.

Congrats, Steve.  Great story.  Talk about changing your life…  wow.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Dinner friday

Things look good for Friday's dinner.  We're looking at 25 to 30 folks, a real race director guest speaking, and plenty of pasta.
You want a good reason to come eat?  I got your reason right here.
1 Kings 19:5-8
Then [Elijah] lay down under the tree and fell asleep.  All at once an angel touched him and said, "Get up and eat."  He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water.  He ate and drank and then lay down again.  The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, "Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you."  So he got up and ate and drank.  Strengthened by that food, he traveled FORTY NIGHTS until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God."
This is the only place in the bible where an angel touches a person.  However, one of the translations of the word "touch" is "defeated".  Interesting.  There may not have been contact made, only the realization that the journey really is bigger than him.  That term can have a lot of spiritual baggage.  (In a different context I'd love to dig it out.  Maybe if you ask me I'll expound.)  After all, the first thing he said under that tree (verse 4) was "I'm finished" and that phrase can be read in a terminal sense. 
Come to think of it, when I called the missus from that medical tent last year the first thing I told her was "I'm finished". 
The next time I say that on Marathon Sunday (endurance Sunday as they call it at church) will be in front of George R. Brown.
His journey was longer than ours.  His task was greater.  But we all fight the same battles.  We all fight the same demons.  They just dress differently today than they did 6000 years ago.  Elijah told a crowd to "Get off the fence".  Follow path A or B, but quit waffling back and forth.  We got off the fence 6 months ago.  We're running Sunday. 

We're not going 40 nights, though.  We're just running up to 26.2 miles.  And we should be done in 6 hours, tops.  But if it's good enough for Elijah, it's good enough for me.
In 5 days time we power up.  We'll eat.  We'll rest.  We'll eat. Then we'll run.
And finish.
There is no try.  Only do.

Saturday, January 07, 2006


It's late. yea, I know.
I got the marathon confirmation thingie the other day.
See where it says 26.2 miles. Damn right. 26.2, and not a step further.

I said before that the marathon seems so small from a distance, but when it gets closer it begins to look bigger. I'm not sure that's quite right. The marathon stays the same. 26.2. The perspective of the task changes, like holding your thumb in front of your eye to blot out the sun. The sun isn't that small.

The trick is to prepare to be bigger than the race. The work that gets put in doesn't make the race smaller, or control the steady approach that seems to gather speed the closer it comes. The work that's put in makes you bigger. Not physically, but mentally and in unseen ways. You grow. You have to, because the marathon is pretty big. You may never get bigger than the race--it is pretty big--but you can grow enough to manage the struggle.

I guess that's how it is for most endurance events. And what's life but an endurance event?

Event Confirmation

BIB - 5728
Name - Joseph Breda
Race - Chevron Houston Marathon -- 26.2 miles
Start Line Corral - Back
*for more information see below

Age on Race Day - 30
Sex - Male
Wheelchair Participant - No

Friday, January 06, 2006

Getting antsy

It’s fast approaching.  My body knows it.  It’s taking intense concentration to keep my mind off of the run and away from panic.


I’m going through varying degrees of… something.  It’s almost impossible to think of the pre-game procedure without thinking about the event itself.  The bag will be packed Wednesday.  The gear will be washed and laid out on Thursday.  Supplies will be reviewed, listed, checked off, and then double checked… then something will be diligently forgotten (you know, I left an odometer [that’s bike-speek for chronometer] AND a helmet in Houston for a ride in San Antonio, once).


Strangely enough, though I’m feeling the beginning stages of genuine anxiety leading up to the run, it’s not really nervousness.  It’s almost like I know I SHOULD be nervous, but I’m not really.  The resulting lack of something where something should be is causing a considerable amount of anxiety.  Sort of like going into your house and looking around the living room and knowing that your couch SHOULD be there, but it isn’t, and you get all nervous until you remember that you shipped it off to be reupholstered.  That’s kind of what it feels like.


In other news the MS150 people say that anyone who rides all 3 tours this year will get some kind of special recognition.  I’ve been saying they should do some kind of “triple crown” or more appropriately a “triple chain-ring” type of trophy for nutty folks who ride all 3.  Hmm…  being the sucker for hardware that I am, maybe that’ll be something to do.  The 2006 lineup of endurance events could include 1 marathon, 3 MS150s (though the one in October will be the hardest of them all this year), then a triathlon.  If I’m insane enough to consider running the marathon again (no, I’m not presently considering it) it’ll also include a 30k and a half marathon at some point. 


Hmm… I may be officially losing my mind.

MS150 info

“Registration for the MS150 has reached 13000 riders and is now closed.”


1 month faster than last year.  Wow.


Why is this running related?  Because I’m 26.2 miles away from starting my cycling season!  Whooohooo!!!


No more runs are scheduled between now and the marathon.  I’m going to do a little cross training this weekend and a lot of stretching next week, but no more runs are scheduled before the marathon.  It’s going to feel a little weird not skipping workouts, but I think I’ll be able to soldier through.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


Last year they had this awful show on TBS called “The Real Gilligan’s Island” where 2 competing teams of idiots modeled after the Gilligan’s Island cast stayed on an island for 2 weeks.  They each had a model, a millionaire couple, a boat captain, some spaz of a first mate (think Cato Kalin), a professor, and some skank farm girl.  The elements of each team competed from week to week until there was only 1 ‘cast’ remaining, then the remaining idiots competed to knock each other off the island in “Feats of Strength” and whatnot.  They each acted like they cared about each other and cried when someone was kicked off the island.  I don’t get how you get so connected to someone that you actually think they care about your feelings after knowing them for a week, but I digress.


So, the various idiots competed down to the final 3, and one of them was Captain Charlie Albert, a guy who ran a marina in Louisiana.  He was a clever fellow, and thoroughly annoying.  He must have said “It’s on like a chicken bone” a bazillion times and several other witticisms that were cute the first 600 times, but after that it just got annoying.  Come on, “on” and “bone” doesn’t even rhyme!  It’s just…  shut up!


Anyway, his act got him through and he won and got something like $1,000,000,000,000.  I don’t really think the other idiots on the island know how snookered they were.


This morning, while eating my breakfast, I found myself wondering how Captain Charlie was doing in the wake of the weather New Orleans got last year.  I don’t know why.


So, I do some digging and find this and this.  Turns out this reality TV goon is a real guy with a real life and not some 2 bit hack unemployed “actor” (which is translated as “bartender” outside of LA) who’s desperately trying to milk the 15 minutes of fame America’s desperately short attention span and intolerance for anything that might make them think has allotted him.  He’s actually done stuff like set speed records for crossing the Gulf of Mexico.  He’s like a legit business guy.  The other idiots on the island didn’t stand a chance.  I repeat, they don’t know who they were playing with.  They got took, plain and simple.


Regardless, I still don’t know why I was thinking about him this morning.  Weird.

The bad girlfriend

Ok, we all either know personally or know someone who knows personally the bad girlfriend/boyfriend.


This is the one person you love to spend time with, but is just flat out bad for you.  Every time you go out you tell yourself “never again”.  You stay away for awhile, you build a life, you focus on your career and your family, this person becomes a distant memory.  But eventually you have a chance encounter and bump into him/her at the Baby Gap or at a Starbux—this person may even be working there—and next thing you know… BAM!!  It’s 5 days later, you’re in Tuscon, your pants are in Tacoma, and you have some ‘splaining to do.


Did I mention that Texas won last night and a bottle of Petron materialized?  This is where I’d say “and then I woke up in Tuscon”, but that’s not me anymore.  I told the bad girlfriend that we had some good times together—I don’t remember most of them, but I’ve been assured they were good—but those times are past.  Boy could I tell you some stories.  Well, they’re more like police reports than stories.


She said “just one for old time’s sake”.  So we toasted to the best by-God college football team in the best by-God state in the union at the University of by-God Texas.


Next thing I know I’m in Tuscon and my pants are in Tacoma.  Just kidding.


Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not what you’d call a UT fan.  I’m a UH fan (weird, I know).  Because of that I’m eternally rooting for the underdog IN STATE.  If it’s Texas or A&M versus anyone else from Texas, I’m pulling for anyone.  But if it’s ANYONE from Texas versus anyone from anywhere else in the world, I hope St. Mary’s School for the Blind in San Antonio kicks the crap out of ‘em.  Beating Texas in state gives legitimacy to small schools in state.  In this state, if you can’t win in Austin or College Station, you’re “one of the others”.


So take that, California.  And for today, congratulations T-Sip nation.