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10 notes from the 2017 BMW Dallas Half Marathon

EDITOR’S NOTE: How long has it been since my last blog post? “A couple years,” would’ve been my answer, but more than twice that amount of time has passed. Back then, the thought of running more than a mile, outside, in the winter, was not a remote possibility. And yet, the seeds were there because I distinctly recall being on the treadmill back in August 2014, watching the origin of the high five unfold before my eyes. Do we write to remember or to not forget? Either way, this particular story picks up my “running journey” in mid-stride, fresh off the heels of my first half marathon – as part of the BMW Dallas Marathon weekend in December 2017 – and training for my first full marathon.

1. BLESSING IN DISGUISE: I arrived at the race in plenty of time, hydrated, rested and mentally and physically ready for the longest run of my life on a beautiful day. Then I reached for my wireless headphones I had draped around my neck. And they weren’t there. Part of the reason I started running was to listen to music, and here I was, about to run three miles farther than I’d ever run, without them. “Don’t panic,” I thought as I started to panic. Then I remembered how “real runners” never run with headphones. And I recalled Hebrews 12:1, too – “And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Well, OK then – I was meant to run this race without headphones. Let’s go!

2. T-MAC INSPIRATION: The race date happened to be close to the 13-year anniversary of Tracy McGrady scoring 13 points in 35 seconds to will his team to victory. Earlier in the week, watching a mini-documentary about this amazing feat, I was inspired by what he said and what he did after the game. “I’m not even sure what I just did,” he said, seemingly as stunned by his performance as the players and crowd that had just witnessed NBA history. After all the interviews, some time after midnight, he went through his post-game routine of weight training. “Stick to the routine,” I thought. “Be like T-Mac. Amaze yourself.”

3. SIGNS OF THE TIMES: Spectators along the route held up some clever – and off-color – posters and signs to motivate and encourage runners. My three favorite: “Run like Matt Lauer is chasing you.” “This is the worst parade ever.” “Run, bitches!”

4. OVERHEARD AT MILE 10: One woman to another: “Yo quiero nalgas planas.” (“I want a flat butt.”)

5. TRUST THE TAPE, PART 1: My knees and ankles are in decent shape but sometimes feel a little iffy. Taking no chances, I relied on KT tape for extra protection. At about Mile 11, I felt as if this tape was the only thing holding my left knee and ankles together.

6. TRUST THE TAPE, PART 2: My Fitbit is falling apart, but a little electrical tape and it was as good as new. (It held for 30,019 steps!)

7. 40 OZ. OF FREEDOM: That’s an awful lot of Gatorade, but before the race, if you start drinking at 5 a.m., you can be done by 6:30 a.m., in time for a potty break or two before the 8:10 start time. (During the race, however, you might want to stick to water if you have any stomach concerns – especially if you’re using energy chews or gels. Posting this as a PSA on behalf of a friend.)

8. POTTY BREAKS: Some folks couldn’t wait for the Port-a-Potties set up at various points. Good thing there were trees and bushes along the route.

9. DRAMATIC FINISH: About a half-mile from the finish line, near Deep Ellum, half marathoners gazed in amazement over at the marathon lane as two energetic runners effortlessly glided past us. “They must be the relay folks,” one runner said. “Or the elites,” I said. “They started about a half-hour earlier than everyone.” Turns out we were both right: The two runners turned out to be Chandler Self and Ariana Luterman, just a few minutes away from their dramatic “mind over matter” destiny at the finish line that made national headlines.

10. FINAL WORDS: It was an incredible experience and a great race. And I’m looking forward to the next one. But will the next one be 26.2? Stay tuned …

ALL SMILES at the finish line because I’d just run my first half marathon in 2:08 and felt fantastic.





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The Wild Side: How one photo of a fox mobilized a team of journalists in Dallas

Neighborsgo is the community news operation of The Dallas Morning News.

Every Friday, 11 tabloid print editions, zoned by communities, are delivered to more than 330,000 households throughout the Dallas area. Most of the news and information that appears in print – whether by staffers or residents – is first posted on

Neighborsgo celebrates the greatness of everyday people, so the cover stories each week address a general theme in a very specific way – e.g., if Faith is the topic,  the Allen/Frisco/McKinney edition focuses on a Jehovah’s Witness convention,  the Richardson edition features a story about the 135th anniversary of a Congregationalist church on its cover, and the Irving cover is about a school-uniform drive by a Methodist church. (Covers here, via Pinterest)

One of the more popular themes is Pets and Their People, which focuses on animals and the people who love them. On Sept. 14, 2012, all 11 cover stories featured a connection to animals – but not the domesticated kind. It was called “The Wild Side,” and here is how it went from an idea to a project and how one little photo of a fox started the whole process.



Rebecca Hertz posted this photo on Aug. 17, 2012. It led to three simple questions in the neighborsgo newsroom:

1. If  foxes are roaming Dallas neighborhoods, what is happening in other parts of our coverage area – about 30 miles north, south, east and west of Dallas?

2. What should residents do when they encounter a wild animal?

3. Could we get residents to share their photos to help tell this story?


Later that same day, the fox photo was posted on, I saw a photo of a bobcat in my neighborhood posted on my NextDoor neighborhood site.  I live in Frisco, about 30 miles away from Rebecca in Dallas. Bobcats in Frisco, foxes in Dallas – surely this is happening elsewhere, right? (Put another way: This isn’t just a case of “news is what happens to editors, right?”)


On Aug. 24, we began asking readers – online and in print – to share their photos with us. Several images were posted on, a few were tagged on our Facebook page,  none via Twitter, and about 20 shots were emailed to us. The best one was submitted by Jennifer Wagner of Plano: Her brave Westie, Mac, facing off a bobcat kitten through a window.

Photos submitted for neighborsgo Wild Side project


On Aug. 29, Ruth Kidd of Lakewood emailed a photo of a fox that loves to sit on her backyard rocking chair. The next day, Karin Saucedo of Allen emailed a series of photos of a bobcat lounging by her swimming pool. The photos were posted online and generated a few hundred page views, but the bigger impression they – and the Westie-bobcat shot – made was on the neighborsgo staff:  Seeing was believing, and they redoubled efforts to contact sources for more photos and story ideas.


Through our Sounding Off feature, which consists of a community-specific question, we asked one universal question of the more than 1,000 area residents on the opt-in list. Questions usually elicit enough responses for one full tabloid page in print – about a dozen or so. This particular question generated enough responses to fill two pages, averaging about two dozen per edition.




Each community-specific story was fairly brief, but there was enough interest from readers across the region for an overarching story that tied everything together. Danielle Abril wrote it for The Dallas Morning News, and it appeared on the Metro cover Sept. 15, 2012.

neighborsgo story in Dallas Morning News



But for those who read to the end, here’s a treat: The song that was going through my head throughout the “Wild Side” process:

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