Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bib scalping: A suggestion

See my earlier post to get what's going on re: the Houston Marathon.

No doubt, there are folks on the Houston Marathon Committee getting more emails, phone calls, and advice about this than they care to…

I understand capping a race. It happens all the time in several marathons. The logistics and resources necessary to put on a marathon are immense and health and safety issues are critical. One only needs to look at the 2007 Chicago Marathon to realize that there is a limit to how big a race a city can handle.

That said; it seems like there could be a better plan in place to get folks in the marathon who did not register prior to the cap.

The current plan is to help provide an open market for the buying and selling of bibs. In addition to the bib scalping, there’s another downside. Suppose that later in December, lot’s of folks are willing to sell there bibs at face value. And suppose that many runners hook up with these folks and get bibs. Well, that’s just great…but it sure is a hassle for everyone involved.

Here’s my suggestion…

If a registered runner finds out that they won’t be running, they let the marathon folks know asap. At that point, they get either a partial refund OR a guaranteed deferral to next year’s marathon. Bingo, there is now one more person who could sign up for the marathon.

If you’re one of the unlucky folks who missed the cap, you get on an alternate list. If you’re first on the list, you just got the spot from the runner listed above. Simple huh?

What about no-shows and last minute cancellations?
On the day before the marathon (Saturday in the case of Houston), a few of hours before the Expo closes, the marathon folks count up the number of race packets that have not been picked up.
For the sake of argument, let's say it's 500 race packets
Take some percentage of that...spose ~80% or 400 (gotta save some packets for those last minute pickups)
Then, start issuing RESERVED bib numbers to folks on the alternate list.

For folks in town, this should be pretty easy as they can hang out at the Expo. For folks out of town, they would need to know where in the alternate line they were to help them decide if they should come to Houston. If you're number 10 on the alternate list, you are 99% sure you're in (if, as Steve Karpas indicated earlier, ~10% of runners are no-shows).

Bingo, you just got up to 400 runners in the marathon.

Yes, there are logistics and details to printing out alternate bib numbers, keeping track of the alternate list, setting deadlines for refunds, etc.

However, you do eliminate (or minimize) the bib scalping that is making quite a few folks unhappy. You also eliminate the head-ache of either banning, or attempting to ban, someone because they sold their bib number on eBay for $201.

And most importantly, you provide a real service to the runners.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Houston Marathon: Setting bib prices in the 21st Century

You may have heard that registration for the Houston Marathon is closed. Yep, the darn thing capped out at 17,000, about a month ago…and it’s still 11 weeks away!

Now, don’t get me wrong here. I like the fact that it’s a relatively small marathon. But what’s a runner to do if they missed out on a bib number for Houston? Well, the Houston Marathon Committee has set up a forum on the Houston Marathon web site where folks can go to buy and sell bib numbers. The idea is that some folks may have signed up to run but may not run for various reasons. Typical reasons include injury, family plan changes, and/or training program interruptions.

I applaud the fact that the marathon committee has made an attempt to resolve the bib supply and demand issue. Unfortunately, one of the results of the bib forum is to create yet another reason to sell one’s bib number….profit. Yep, there are folks out there buying and selling bib numbers for *more* than the approximately $100 price paid…a lot more.

Capitalism is alive and well in the running community.

However, the latest news on the Houston Marathon web site is that if you attempt to sell your marathon bib for more that $200 (or half-marathon bib for more than $140), you could risk being banned from the 2009 event.

Evidently, the marathon committee has decided that 100% profit on a marathon bib is okay but any more than that is out of line. So, capitalism may be alive and well…but so is Keynesian economics.

I wonder if this has really been thought through. One can only wonder what will happen if/when someone is “caught” selling a bib number for more than $200. Is the “risk of being banned” an idle threat? If banned, will the banee protest? And then what?

It’s gonna be interesting.

Me. Well, I plan on running the Houston Marathon and I have a bib. No, it’s not for sale at any price. Ah, well, it could be if you can cover my 2009 registration and travel costs to Austin ;)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Runbayou - Survey for the 2008 Houston Marathon training program

Ladies and Gentlemen:

It's getting close to that time again. If you are interested in marathons and/or marathon training programs, please take a moment to respond to these four (4) questions. If you know of others who may be interested, please forward this to them.

Are you planning to run the Houston Marathon in January 2008 and/or another marathon from November 2007 to March 2008?

Would you be interested in the Runbayou marathon training program?

If yes, please answer the following questions.

The speedwork sessions would be held at Memorial Park at 5:00am on Tuesdays and Thursdays starting Tuesday August 28, 2007. Would you attend these sessions?

If there is interest, and if there is a Runbayou marathon training program, would you like to have your name added to the 2008 Houston Marathon Runbayou distribution list?

That was easy......


The Runbayou marathon training program in a nutshell.
Phase 1 - base building (easy runs; build up your weekly mileage at ~10% increase per week)
Phase 2 - Primary speed sessions are repetition running (200s, 400s, & some hills)
Phase 3 - Primary speed sessions are interval pace training (800s & 1200s) plus tempos and thresholds
Phase 4 - Primary speed sessions are marathon pace runs plus tempos and thresholds

More information on runbayou can be found at:
Note: The specific speedwork sessions for the 2008 program are not available yet.

If you have questions, feel free to contact me.


"all my times are Chip Tymes"

Friday, May 11, 2007

A new champion!

Anyone out there a tennis fan?

Earlier this week, the UIL Texas High School State Tennis championships were held in Austin/Lakeway.

Here are a couple of pics of the 2007 UIL Division 1A Texas High School Tennis Champion in action

Just look at the focus...eyes on the ball and ready.

And check out the intensity on that kid's face!

Did I mention his name? Eric Hendrickson.

Yep, that's my son.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Top 10 things to remember in amateur racing

I recently had an occasion to ponder amateur racing.

Here are my TOP 10 things to remember.

10. Show up on time. If the race is supposed to start at 8am and you arrive at 8:01...believe me, folks have been racing for a minute. If being fashionably late is more your style, take up bicycle racing.

9. Your race packet will hopefully contain your race number and instructions. It will also invariably contain discount coupons (e.g., local running store, Chick-fil-A), some sort of kitchen magnet, tiny first aid kit containing 2 band-aids and a Q-tip, and a t-shirt that is 2 sizes too large.

8. Line up for the race according to your pace. Look, if you know you're not a contender, please don't to line up on the starting line. No, you're not going to get run over. You will however be a hinderance to folks who run much faster than you and that's just plain inconsiderate.

7. If you have a complaint about a race, file a protest...that's what they're for.

6. Do not demand appearance fees: Consistant 3rd place age group finishes does NOT make you a professional runner in demand.

5. After the race, don't jump up on stage during the awards ceremony and gripe about it. You make an ass of yourself and it embarasses your friends.

4. Running is a sport. You'll have good days and not so good days. But all the days should be fun. After the race, smile and remember that not everyone can run. Oh yea, get to a towel as soon as possible after the race. No one likes to stand next to a sweaty, dripping wet, smelly runner...especially at the results wall.

3. Don't cheat. If you really need that, "hardware" (typically a plastic trophy, medal, or ceramic tile painted by 3 year olds) go rob a bank and buy a case of 'em...they cost about $2.99 each.

2. Remember the folks working the water stands, post-race food tables, starting and finishing lines? Well, they're volunteers. Try it sometime...

1. If you have an aversion to port-o-cans, racing is not for you. But if you join the Bayou City Road Runners (, your worries are over. We have two private privies!!!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Boston Marathon - race report

Short story
For those folks just surfing the blog waves for the number of Boston Marathon stories.

The weather was the story. Rainy & wet, cold, strong headwind with occasional gusts of close to 50mph. That said, it was Boston so it was fun and I managed to qualify for Boston next year too!

Longer story
For those of you with too much time or just wanting to hear a, “Boston story.”

Friday night
The Boston Athletic Association (baa) sent out a weather warning Friday night. Hey, once the baa has your money, you NEVER get a weather warning email. Anyway, the first paragraph provided a forecast for Monday. A Nor’easter with rain & sleet, possible snow, headwinds gusting to 50mph, and temperatures in the low 40s. The next several pages of the email talked about how to recognize and treat hypothermia. This is just great. I’ve got non-refundable plane tickets, expensive hotel reservations, and my girlfriend already has plans to party in Houston without me. Am I really going to get on a plane to Boston on Saturday morning?

The early morning flight was on time, and naturally arrived in Boston early…about 45 minutes early…lots of ultra-light runners on board. Normally, I go to the Expo and buy a patch for my jacket. This was my eighth Boston and a $6 patch is a lot better than a $90 jacket that I’d hardly wear (We have about 7 days of winter in Houston). This time however, I bought a hoody (sweatshirt with a hood) to commemorate what was expected to be a very cold & wet day on Monday.

Saturday night at the Union Oyster House is an annual tradition. Spent an hour or so at the oyster bar running smack with the shuckers (Sox & Astros always come up), ate some cold water oyster, chowda, & beer. Then lobster for dinner. I really do love Boston on the Saturday before the marathon.


The Sunday weather reports were scary…Nor’easter blowing trees down and beach houses inland. Talk of canceling the race was heard but only as a matter of conversation. After all, it is the 111th Boston. No doubt that the ballgame at Fenway would be cancelled.

The pre-race pasta party at Government Plaza on Sunday evening was another indication that Monday’s race was going to be….err, ah, exciting. To get to the food, we were shuttled through a huge circus tent to protect us from the rain, wind, and cold. Did I say windy? Forget carrying an umbrella…unless you wanted to fly to Hopkinton via Mary Poppins Airways. Once inside though, it was typical Boston Marathon fanfare; jugglers, music, noise, pasta of course, and beer. Dessert? Oh, that was outside. Yep, there’s nothing like finishing a nice pasta dinner, bundling back up, and then heading out into the cold, windy night for some ice cream.

Got back to the hotel and spent at least an hour laying out all the possible combinations of clothing to wear during the marathon. I settled on long sleeve tights, leggings, two pair of gloves with chemical hand warmers, knit cap.

The walk to the Park Plaza Hotel to catch the bus was not too bad. A bit of rain, lots of wind, and of course, cold. My company provides two coach busses that take us to Hopkinton so we get a huge break on transportation and comfort. Not only is the ride better than a big yellow school bus, but there is a bathroom on board. Oh yea! A bathroom on a bus that takes over an hour to get to Hopkinton is priceless. Did I mention that I was rooming with my running buddy Fred? Although the busses were filled up with company employees, I managed to get Fred on the bus. I think he appreciated the above amenities.

Last minute changes to the wardrobe selection. The weather was probably not going to be as bad as everyone thought. I settled on a LS tight shirt, hat, one pair of gloves (with chemical warmers), and some thigh length shorts. Got lucky as that was about the perfect attire for me.

The marathon
As is my custom for the Boston Marathon, I brought my cell phone. Several of my running buddies in Houston take a half day off work to watch the marathon. It’s always a lot of fun to call them and provide real-time race reports along the course. After the first call while in the corral, I made 3-4 other calls. Also, this year, I took a few pictures…a few at Wellesley of course.

The marathon went very well with no back pain at all. Amazing what anti-inflammatories and pain medication can do ;) I ran at a fairly steady pace throughout the race and finished with a 3 minute positive split (ran the second half of the marathon 3 minutes slower than the first half). Given that the Newton Hills (including Heartbreak Hill) are in the second half, I consider that an accomplishment.

Oh yea, the BoSox game was delayed...not cancelled.

Post –marathon
After the company party at the Park Plaza hotel (where I was forced to give away over 30 beers…but that’s another story), Fred and I met a bunch of other Houston runners at Grill 23. Any steak after a marathon is excellent but Grill 23 steak is absolutely the best! Thanks Wayne for making those reservations.

Am already thinking about next year.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Boston - Preparations and expectations

The training for Boston is over. The last speed workout was on Wednesday evening…during the 40th anniversary of the LP run. The workout went well and I’m about as ready as can be. The plan is to run a few easy miles today, rest on Saturday, do a few easy miles on the Charles River on Sunday and then do the 26.2 on Monday with 25,000 of my closest friends.

I leave for Boston tomorrow morning. Will start medicating this evening and should be completely numb by Monday morning. Hopefully, with the predicted heavy rain, high wind, and 39 degree temperature, I'll be so worried about staying alive that my back will not be an issue. That said, I fully expect to feel spasms somewhere around to the Newton Hills around noon. By then, I’ll have an hour and a half to finish and re-qualify for Boston next year….or four hours to finish in time for a medal ;)

Normally, I’d plan to go to Fenway park on Sunday to watch the BoSox and relax. However, current weather predictions indicate possible snow so maybe that’s out. Heck, that free pasta dinner on Sunday night may be out too if it means dealing with snow.

A couple of years ago, the temperature for the Boston Marathon was 85 degrees at the start. When you’re putting suntan lotion on before a marathon, you know it’s gonna be a long day. I’ll always remember that Boston as the “hosed” marathon as the strategy was to run through every hose and/or sprinkler on the route. I swear, I must’ve run 28 miles zig-zagging from one side of the street to the other…anything to keep cool.

Time will tell on how this year’s Boston will be remembered….

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Feeling better: racing and tapering

Yep, am feeling pretty good and getting anxious.

The Bellaire Trolley Run on Saturday March 31st
There's nothing like a thunder filled (and rainy) morning to start a race. Although my back is still giving me fits, the race went fine and I am happy with the results. However, when you've run 44 5K races in your life and the most recent race ranks 43rd....well, you get the idea. Did I mention #44 was on a the rain...and part of the course was on a wet, slippery boardwalk...6 years ago!!! Oh, and to top it off, the Bellaire Trolley Run was 238 feet short? Ouch...salt in the wound. But, I'm quite happy to be running again!

Taper begins
Tapering for the Boston Marathon officially began last Monday. A few more hard workouts but this week's mileage will drop ~30% and next week will drop even more. It feels so good!

The LP run is next Wednesday evening (4/11) at the St. Thomas High School track
Instead of a fixed distance that you run as fast as you can, it's a fixed time where you run as far as you can. A cool concept. In other words, you run around a track for 33 1/3 minutes to see how far you can run. For the kids in the crowd, LP refers to a Long Play vinyl album/record that spins at 33 1/3 revolutions per minute.

Don't blow it off if you've never tried it. It is a LOT of fun and you get to run along side some of the fastest folks in they lap you over and over...;) Anyway, if you want more info, Google it and come on out. The LP run will be my last hard workout before heading to Boston for the marathon. Speaking of Boston...

Saturday April 14th is the Houston to Boston flight
The morning Continental flight will be completely full of excited runners. It's very much like a chartered flight as everyone knows everone on the plane. Every year, we arrive in Boston ahead of schedule....after all, the plane is full of emaciated runners and is super light.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Ozzie, Harriott and BFE

Got the 3rd (and final) BGN last Thursday morning. Didn't run until Sunday and then did a 21 miler. Bottom line: I was able to run the 21 miles but my back hurt during the run and most of the rest of the day.

It's 3 weeks to Boston and this week will be the last week of relatively high mileage. Although Boston will be treated like a long run this year, I can't wait to start the taper. Okay, enough about running and pain.

Neighborhood news.
There are two raptors (Red-tailed Hawks) living in my neigborhood. I'm guessing it's a male and female but haven't actually checked. Matt says that he's seen them in his back yard.

Anyway, several folks in the community have made comments about the raptors eating some of the song birds that live here. Well duh!!!! If you put up bird feeders, in your yard, it's like putting up an all you can eat for free sign.

Well, it turns out, the song birds are not the only thing on the raptors' menu. Just down the street is the Waugh Street bridge. This is home to the largest year-round urban bat colony in Texas (yea, I know Austin's is larger but those bats migrate). See where I'm going with this?

Friday evening, we went over to the bridge to watch the bat flight. At about 7:30pm, the raptors were circling over the bridge. Soon after the bat flight started, and the hawks would swoop down, take a bat, perch in a nearby tree, and eat the bat. Then, they'd fly back into the bat swarm and take another bat. This went on for a while until it got too dark. Then, Ozzie & Harriett (my names for the hawks) flew off.

So...if you're a raptor, come on down to the Bat Flight Eatery (BFE) from 7:30pm to 8:00pm for some good bat.

Monday, March 12, 2007

BGN - Prognosis looks good

What a fun weekend.
Saturday morning was up at 4:15am...on purpose. Got up to volunteer for the Bayou City Classic 10K. The Bayou City Classic is the Houston Area Road Runner Association's ( biggest race. Normally, I'd race this one but am in no shape to be competitive and, the BGN was last Thursday. Resting is the better part of valor...or something like that.

Elle and I worked together helping a bunch of fellow BCRR'ers set up the start of the race. We put up a couple of tents, set up some chip tables, far the most memorable, managed the starting line water table. You really do have no idea just how much water is consumed before a race. Pouring water into paper cups for almost 2 hours non-stop scars you. Since Saturday, I've had nightmares of an infinite number of tables, covered with an infinite number of paper cups, that have to be filled with an infinite number of water jugs. Off in the distance is an infinite number of port-o-cans with an infinite number of people waiting in line to use them. And then I have to use the bathroom. If there is a hell, that's it.

Later, near the end of the race, Elle and I were cornered by Eddie (Volunteer extraordinaire) and assigned to the chip detection area of last resort. Basically, it was our job to stand at the exit gate of the finishing area and watch the feet of finishing runners to determine if their timing chip had been removed at the finish line. Yep, we were the chip police. After watching several thousand feet and not catching a single chip, Elle and I abandoned our post. It was over one hour and 45 minutes into the race and the only folks coming in to the finish were walkers. I reasoned that, statistically, we weren't going nab any chips so I suggested to Elle that we leave. Whoops. Didn't think it through and forgot to notify our volunteer supervisor...poor Eddie got reamed for us being AWOL. Sorry Eddie.

Sunday morning long run
The cortizone BGN last Thursday has worked wonders. Sunday morning was the first pain free run in so long I can barely remember it. I really do think it was last April. Anyway, I managed to bribe a few running buddies (they'll do almost anything for free Gatorade) to run a bit further than the normal 12 mile run. We did over 18 miles and it was wonderful! Thanks guys!

In another week, I get the last of the series of cortizone BGNs! Am almost looking forward to it.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Brick cleaning

I've discovered another 'talent' to fall back on if my career in the computer technology industry doesn't pan out...brick cleaning.

Here's the story of my new found talent.
I'm walking the neighborhood with my girlfriend, Elle (what a great woman but that's another story). A couple of blocks down the street from my little bungalow, we walk by a demolition site. Seems another old bungalow bit the dust in order to make way for yet another high density townhome development. All together now, everybody say, awwwwwwwwww....

Well, my bunglow was built in 1915 and has an orangish colored brick facade. I have no idea when the facade was constructed but the bricks appear old and faded and certainly are not something you can pick up at Home Depot. Anyway, the deceased bungalow just happened to have had a similarly constructed brick facade...orangish colored bricks with three holes in each brick.

So, after chatting with the nice gentlemen with the huge dump truck and earth moving machine, I learned that these bricks were destined for the land fill...along with the rest of the walls, roof, floor, and...Tweety bird (yea, a big giant Tweety Bird was slumped over in the front yard...go figure. Anyway, I was given permission to haul off as many bricks as I wanted. Oh boy, yet another use for my little truck (have lived in Texas for over 30 years and less than two years ago, I bought my first pickup...another story for another time).

Elle helped me with the first load and we subsequently built a nice little flower holding thingy in the front yard. You know, that box, or wall, or whatever you call that little wall of bricks that go around a bunch of good dirt that's used to plant stuff in.

Anyway, before we could actually use the bricks, we....I mean I, had to clean the bricks as they had lots of old mortar on them. That's one of the downsides of free, used, bricks. But, after a few bricks, I figured out what needs to be done to clean bricks...which I am now passing on to you.

Here's the stuff needed
  • Dirty bricks...not just dirt but bricks with old mortar attached
  • work gloves
  • claw hammer
  • large screwdriver or pick
  • safety goggles
  • safety mask
  • outdoor garbage can
Here's what you do
  • Put on work gloves, safety goggles, and safety mask (there's gonna be a lot of mortar chips and dust flying everywhere)
  • hold one brick over the garbage can and use the claw of the hammer to shear off the mortar...after a while, you can get pretty good at it
  • After mortar is off brick, use screw driver to poke out the mortar in the holes of the brick
  • Stack your nice clean bricks
  • Periodically, take a break as bricks get heavy after pounding on them with a hammer.
After building the little flower bed thingy, I still have over 100 clean bricks. Although I have no idea what to do with them yet; when I need 'em, I'll have 'em!

The 2nd BGN this morning

Got the 2nd BGN this morning.

But first. Tuesday I ran with Simon and Scott from Memorial Park to Mt. Bacon. Mt. Bacon is actually one of the two parking garages that a lot of Houston runners utilize for hill training. Am still not able to keep up with Simon and Scott but my fitness is slowly coming back.

Wednesday I did a workout with Matt on the bayou. 6x1 minute thresholds with 2 minute recoveries. At the end, my lower back was killing me.

This morning, I went in for the 2nd epidural coritco-steroid injection. I told the doc that the first shot didn't seem to do much. His response was ver practical..."well, I don't want to do the same thing that didn't work." So, he changed the cortizone type and also gave me the epidural between L5 and S1 (the first injection was between L4 and L5).

Although my back is a bit sore, I can bend over quite easily right now...should be even better in a few days. Maybe...just maybe, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007 BGN #1

It's been 8 days since the BGN (big giant needle of cortizone in the lower back between L4 & L5). It now seems the lower back pain is laterally...and not getting better. 2nd BGN in 9 days...I hope it works.

Ran the Conoco Rodeo 10K last Saturday. Amazing what can happen in one year of little to no running! One minute per mile slower than last year! It's a long way back ;)

Some running observations this past 11 months. NOTE: This is in addition to all that silly scientific stuff on
  • If you run 50-60 miles per week for several years, you're likely to be faster than those that run 0-30 miles per week for the last 11 months
  • If you do speedwork twice a week for several years, you're likely to be faster than those that have not done speedwork for 11 months
  • You're likely to be more motivated to run if you're NOT in pain...vs if you are in pain
  • If you eat a bizzillion calories per day and run 50-60 miles per week, you'll burn 'em right off. If you eat a bizzillion calories per day and run 0-30 miles per week, you'll store 'em just above your belt
  • You're likely to run faster if you haven't stored a bizzillion calories just above your belt
  • Actually, some of the bizzillion calories are at the belt...forcing the use of fresh belt holes

More later.....

Monday, February 19, 2007


Got the infamous BGN in the lower back today. BGN is short for big giant needle. In this case, an epi-dural cortizone shot. It's supposed to take a few days to produce the full effect. In two weeks, another BGN in the back.

That said, I do get to run tomorrow afternoon so my spirits are high.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Back again....

I'm back again. Literally. Have tried just about everything (and I do mean everything) to heal my lower back injury (slight disk bulge between L4 and L5) but so far...nothing's worked. Tomorrow though. Tomorrow is the day for the epidural cortizone. Supposed to be a magic fix. We'll see.

Am making another attempt at training for a marathon. This time for the 2007 Boston Marathon. Am not training to race it...just to finish it. If the cortizone works, if my training goes well (read: no pain while training); then I'll run my 8th Boston in April.

Getting kind of excited and motivated. Updated the web site yesterday and may even keep it updated for a while ;)
Have you heard of it? It's at: There's a lot of endurance training information there although it may take a while for you find everything. It is my first web site so the design has been, shall we say, somewhat flakey. Anyway, if you're patient, there is some good info...

More later...after the cortizone ;)