Black Girls Run? Yep. Black Girls Run! Even here in Austin

Black Girls Run!
Members of the Austin Chapter of Black Girls Run! warmup before a recent Saturday run./Photo courtesy Austin American-Statesman

I’ve groused and groused often in this space about the lack of black runners I see here in Austin, or anywhere else for that matter. I’ve even been quoted in Runner’s World Magazine on the subject.

So it was nice to see Monday’s Austin American-Statesman story authored by Pam LeBlanc about the Austin chapter of Black Girls Run! – a national group for runners created in 2009 by Toni Carey and Ashley Hicks. Carey and Hicks, both black women and avid runners, wanted to do something to tackle the growing obesity epidemic in the African-American community and provide encouragement and resources to both new and veteran runners. The national Black Girls Run! Facebook page has more than 71,000 likes.

The big eye-popping number: There are 350 members of Black Girls Run! in the Austin chapter. They even have  a Facebook page. Wow! I have not seen a total of 350 black women in the four years I’ve lived in Austin, much less 350 black women running. Now, to be sure, you don’t have to be a black woman to be a member. LeBlanc is also a member and from the looks of her Statesman bio, she is white.

bgr-imageLeBlanc’s piece lays out the obligatory, but sorry statistics: Austin has 8.1 percent black population, but less than 2 percent of all people who describe themselves as “core runners” are black; Blacks are more likely to be overweight; yada, yada, yada.

LeBlanc also spent a recent Saturday morning with some of the members of Black Girls Run! and told their stories of why they joined the group.

No topic was left untouched. Even black hair.

My new normal: Better than not running at all

Late last month, I decided that sitting around resting was not going to help me fix what was wrong with my leg. I figured I’d have to rehab AND run at the same time. Heck, at least I could see what was working and what wasn’t. I put a synopsis of each run in a chart.

I’ve run 11 times in the past three weeks.

So far, I’ve noticed a few things:

  • In the beginning of a run, I’m really stiff – stiffer than normal. My paces for Mile 1 of most runs are usually in the high 9s or low 10s.
  • I still have to stop and start once or twice a mile to let my right leg untangle itself.
  • Usually, about 25 to 30 minutes in, I feel like I have a little more control of my leg as my pace quickens.
  • Running up steep hills is almost impossible.
  • My cardiovascular is Out. of. Shape.

This last note is something I’ve really got to work on. Look at the average heart rate column. See how the numbers are mostly in the 170s? Now what does that number mean, you ask? Well, my max heart rate is about 200 (though my max heart rate in each of these runs never reached that output). So, divide 170 by 200 and you get 85 percent. That means my heart and lungs are working wayyyy too hard for the paces I’m running. Before I got injured, 85 percent was my half marathon race pace which equated to about 6:45 to 7:00 min/mile pace. As you can see from this chart, I’m far from that.

But the good thing is I’m slowly regaining form. My average heart rate is dropping, from the mid to high 170s when I started this comeback to the low 170s (and even some high 169s) now.

Things won’t be totally right until I get this leg fixed. But until then, this is my new normal. And let me tell you something: It’s better than not running at all.

I’m back to blogging about the running I’m not doing. Oh, and I’m getting fat.

This isn’t me, but it might as well be.

The running? Terrible. Been injured and its the kind of injury that nobody can figure out what’s wrong. I have run maybe 5 miles since Nov. 15.

Unfortunately, I’ve still continued to eat like I run 40 miles a week which has led to a weight gain of about 15 pounds since Thanksgiving. Not. Good.

Loving my job, though as press secretary of one of the major state agencies in Texas. I’m gonna make a post about all of this in a day or two.

Governor Rick Perry, the rehab table, and me

With Rick Perry announcing his run for the 2016 Republican nomination for President, I though I’d bring back this March 2011 post detailing the time I met Perry while the two of us were laying on a rehab table in southwest Austin.


As I was sitting on the rehab table preparing to get treatment for my pelvis/back issues, I spotted a familiar-looking person coming to take the table next to me.

He wore a baseball cap, gray shirts and gray shorts with black socks and a pair of Brooks Launch tennis shoes. (Only runners wear those shoes, I thought to myself).

Then the light bulb went off.

The Texas governor? Can’t be. His hair was too messed up – way way way messed up – and he’d not shaved. This did not look like the slick-looking guy I’ve seen on TV.

And then, one of the attendants reached out to shake his hand.

“Hi, Governor,” she said.

“How are you,” Rick Perry replied.

“Oh, shit, I was just about to say ‘You look like the governor,’|” I said in Perry’s direction. (Yes, I cursed.) “What’s your condition.”

“I’ve got a pain in the butt,” he laughed. “Seriously – I’ve got some back pain.”

Perry laid down on the table as one of the attendants began work on him. He asked my name and what I was in for. I could see him kind of cringe when I said, “pelvis fracture.” Then he asked me where I was from and what I did for a living. Knowing I was going to blog about this meeting, I figured it was time for full-disclosure: from my time as a Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter, I knew people who knew him. (I’d actually met Gov. Rick Perry once before. In 2003, when I was a metro reporter, the Star-Telegram sent me and a few other reporters to East Texas to cover the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. Perry had come down and, among other things, thanked the locals and Red Cross for helping in the cleanup.)

I’m not sure why I thought it was important for Perry to know that I was once a newspaper reporter, though I guess once a journalist, always a journalist. And of one of the no-nos of journalism is not revealing your identity to the person you are interviewing.

Anyway, the conversation continued. He asked how many marathons I’d run (8) and he replied, “one for me was enough for me.” (I didnt know if he meant he’d run one marathon or one half marathon.) We talked about South by Southwest and what’s wrong with the newspaper business. He said he wished newspapers would not allow anonymous comments at the end of online stories, and he said places like where I currently work ( have seemingly figured out how to make money on the internet these days.

Soon, we were both summoned to the traction tables. The attendants strapped us both in (on separate tables of course) and we continued our conversation, both of us on our stomachs staring face down talking through a donut hole.

We talked more about running – he said he really liked running in his Brooks Launch and was glad they changed the colors from orange; he said his back problems stem from a spinal condition he has had since he was a kid; and we talked about social media. And of course, Perry has been in the news lately for blocking six Texas journalists from following his posts at

I asked Perry if he’d received much criticism for blocking his twitter feed.

“Oh, I was just giving those guys a hard time,” Perry laughed. “You know, the First Amendment cuts both ways.”

And with that, Perry’s time on the traction table was up. I told him he had a hard job and I didn’t envy his position. He tapped me on the leg and said he’d had a nice visit.

I’ll admit, I’ve not always agreed with Governor Perry’s politics, but Rick Perry is a nice, personable guy.