Monday, October 27, 2008

Luke's/Koala Houston Half Marathon Race Report

Well, I'm a little disappointed in this one. The race is a 3 loop course along Allen Parkway, which means HILLS. Lots of them. Some steep little buggers too. I knew it would be good practice for the marathon, which finishes along this same route. (I should clarify that I wasn't disappointed in the race itself, but rather my performance in it.)

Unfortunately, I got a terrible headache on Saturday, and when I woke up on Sunday though the headache had gone, I still felt totally crappy. I dragged myself out of bed, ate a piece of toast, and we were off.

Unfortunately, I underestimated the amount of time it would take to find parking in the street downtown and walk to the start, so I got there with only about 10 minutes to spare, a serious need for the porta-potties, and no time for it. There was nothing for it. I figured if the feeling didn't pass, I'd use them at the relay hand-off, which I reckoned would come between miles 2 and 3.

Thankfully, the restroom urge passed, but the general overall cruddiness feeling did not, and it turned into a long race for me. The first 6 miles went all right, especially considering the congestion, all at target sub-10 pace, even with 2 water stop walks. I did pass up the first 2 water stops, which in retrospect, was probably a mistake. Next 4 miles were solid 10's - rather in the same pattern as the Space City 10 miler, only I actually felt better at 10 than in the last race - well, I should clarify: I felt like I could keep going, and I had so far only walked the water stops. However, I could feel that I was in for a rough last 5K.

Sure enough, that last 5K was beastly. I yelled to Preston to expect me to be slow on the last loop. I started walking once per mile whenever the Garmin turned over a mile. That quickly augmented to once per mile plus all water stops. Which then through the volition of my own traitorious body expanded to the uphills, the water stops, and once per mile. I really was miserable for that last bit. It has never happened to me before where I'm "running" up a hill so pitifully that my strides are less than a foot-length, and my body switches to walking, which is faster, of its own volition. That happened twice in this race.
After I crossed the finish line, my legs actually gave way a few times. In some ways, I am rather comforted by this - I can say without a doubt that I gave all I had in this race. I'm certain, without a doubt, that I ran the best race I could run. That should be all that anyone ever hopes for... but I am still disappointed that my best wasn't about 8 minutes faster.

The weather was lovely. The only thing that I can think is that I was sick. Or I just had a really terrible day. Or some combination thereof. Or the hills killed me.

Here are the Garmin splits:
Mile 1: 9:52
Mile 2: 9:30
Mile 3: 9:28
Mile 4: 9:37
Mile 5: 9:53
Mile 6: 9:28
Mile 7: 10:11
Mile 8: 10:10
Mile 9: 10:57
Mile 10: 10:48
Mile 11: 11:23
Mile 12: 11:33
Mile 13: 12:02
.26: 2:25
Total: 2:17:08

96 of 159 in my age group. 1415 overall of 2100ish.

2:18:08 at 10:33 min./mi. pace is my official time. (This is gun time. I don't know why my chip didn't register over the start line, but I believe from the splits along the course and my Garmin that I was really about a minute faster.)

Oh, also, took a Honey Stinger at about 5 miles, and again at 9 miles (with caffeine). That worked great.

What I learned this time: have Preston hold some sunglasses for me, walk ALL the water stops, allow extra time to park downtown.

I have another half mary in about 3 weeks. I will do everything in my power to improve my performance.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

United Space Alliance Space City 10 Miler Race Report

I decided to do this race rather at the last minute - after the 10 for Texas, which is run muuuuuch closer to home was posponed until the day before the San Antonio Rock-n-roll Half, thus kicking me out of running it. I wanted to practice running a longer race before I busted out with the halfs, so this was really my only option.

Woke up at the ass-crack of dawn to get in some food and try to do some bathroom business before the hour long drive to Clearlake. Uneventful trip down, nice parking spot, traumatic porta-potty experience in the pitck black morning (will bring a headlamp to future winter races), and I was ready to go.

I had a little trouble working out what I wanted to do with my gel. I kind of wanted to take 2: one for early mile 4ish, and a second for 7ish, but I didn't want to carry my water belt, and I wasn't too excited about my hand water holder in a race situation either. I finally crammed one into the tiny ocket in my shirt, and decided to just go with one at the halfway point.

My goal for the race was anything under 10 minute miles, or a sub-1:40 finish time. The temperature was over 70 degrees, so I conceded to Preston that it could be closer to 1:50, but 1:40 was my true goal. My plan to accomplish this was simple, and one that has worked for me in races past: every time I looked down at my Garmin, I wanted to see my pace at something sub-10. If not, I'd speed up. I did also plan on walking the water stops.

So, off we went. Instant little tweak in my right shin in the first mile, but it faded and otherwise I felt good the first 2 miles, very short walk throught the first water stop, and good the next two. Walking the next water stop, I knew I was slowing a bit, but a long way to go. I started running a bit more conservatively, took my gel (Honey Stinger - Ginsting) at the 5.5 water stop, and was still feeling strong through mile 6, and was even able to pick it up a little in the 7th mile before the wheels really came off. The rest was a slogfest with me talking myself farther before walking - took two unscheduled walk breaks in that last bit.

I think what happened was simply a combination of the heat and the fact that I was really trying to run the distance for a time. This is the reason I wanted practice in race conditions, because in my long runs I don't set a goal time - I'm just trying to get the distance in. Taking that gel alittle earlier and having a second might have helped as well...

All in all, I'm really pleased I ran this race. I feel better prepared for the Houston Half next week as a result of it. It was a nice flat race with great volunteers and a nice after party. They also included a great long sleeved tech T in the race packet. I love it when organizers give away tech Ts - I will actually wear those!

Anyways, here are my Garmin splits:
Mile 1: 9:27
Mile 2: 9:19
Mile 3: 9:41
Mile 4: 9:39
Mile 5: 10:00
Mile 6: 10:06
Mile 7: 9:42
Mile 8: 10:15
Mile 9: 10:46
Mile 10: 10:24

And here are my official splits:
First 5 miles: 48:54
Second 5 miles: 51:20
Total: 1:39:48
Average pace: 9:59 min/mi
15th out of 40 in my age group, and 418th overall out of about 700.

Not bad!! Beat my goal time and pace by the slimmest of margins, and got good practice to boot. Next up is the Houston Half next Sunday. Onward!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Great Nutrition Experiment, Take 4, and Miscellaneous

Cliff Shot Energy Gel - Razz: Nasty. I wanted to like this one, but no dice. No GI problems.

Cliff Shot Energy Gel - Mocha: Not quite as nasty, but I still wouldn't buy it again. No GI problems.

Speaking of GI problems, I had a big one on yesterday morning's run. These problems are becoming fewer, but more severe when they occur. And they are seriously frustrating. I ended up walking A LOT of that run because of the pain. I'll leave it at that.

In other news, it had been being quite nice in the mornings, post Ike. In the upper 50's and 60's. Really quite lovely. It was amazing to me the improvement that moving the mercury down below 70 would do for me. Not any more!! Yesterday morning it was in the mid 70's and humid, and this morning it was almost 80(!!!!!) and so humid that it is now raining. I looked down at one point and I was shuffling along at 12 minute miles, totally out of breath, and my heart rate was 209(!!!). UGH!!! I can't wait for the lovely fall weather to come back...