Tuesday, November 18, 2008

C25K Redux

I've recently had the opportunity to recommend Couch to 5K, (and an associated podcast that makes it super easy to follow) to a few friends and acquaintances. I try not to prosthelesize unless asked for advice, but once I'm asked, I can go on for hours because I feel so strongly about the program and its potential for positive impact in ANY non-runner's life.

So an old friend has started the program (he's on Week 2 now!), but is experiencing shin splints, so we talked for almost an hour last night (the short answer - I'm sending him to Luke's for new shoes).

Near the end of the conversation he said something better than I think I ever could. He said:

You know, it just seems like when you do something positive for yourself in one area of your life, you begin to want to do more positive things in the rest of your life.

Amen, Tyler!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Half Rocked and Rolled - Rock n' Roll San Antonio Half Marathon Race Report

Drove down to SA on Saturday. Straight to the Expo (parking sucked, and it was freaking cold as hell walking to the stadium - on the positive side, the TomTom pronounced it A-llama-dome, which was freaking hillarious!!). Expo was seriously crowded, and I thought packet pick-up was poorly layed-out with lines criss-crossing everywhere. I had always heard that there were good freebies at expos, but I didn't see any here. Booked it out of there quickly. Oh, one other negative - cotton t-shirts! I'm turning into a tech t snob. Don't even bother if it is cotton, especially if you are catering to a crowd that is running long!

Anyways, after that we checked into the hotel, Staybridge Suites at Sunset Station, which was really really nice except for the price and the trains blowing their horns all night long... very nice that it was walking distance from the finish line, though. I'd recommend it, with earplugs.

Walked over to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, which is apparently like a total institution in San Antonio, and I have to say, based on what I ate, with good reason. Preston was super excited about eating there. I was trying to be a bit careful and not upset my stomach the night before a long run, so I tried to eat less than I normally would, and it worked quite well.

Then headed back to the hotel, watched a movie, and crashed around 8pm. And woke up off and on with train whistles all night long...

Woke up on Sunday at 5. Drank my coffee, ate a banana, and couldn't really force anything else down. Had a grumpy stomach, but was able to stick around in the hotel room for long enough (6:20) to settle it. I had a hard time deciding what to wear. It was supposed to be in the 30's on race morning, but rising into the 60's before the end of the race. I knew I'd be cold at the beginnins, and I brought cold clothes, but I didn't want to throw any away and I knew I'd be in sleeveless by the end. Finally decided on shorts, sleeveless, covered by two layers of long-sleeved tech that I'd pass off to Preston when I saw him on the course. Did have throw-away gloves. Left for the starting line shuttle at 6:20 (really cold outside!!). Arrived in line 6:25. Stood in line til 7:10ish. Arrived at start at 7:25ish. Walked to corral 15 (scheduled for 14, but couldn't find entrance). Stood there and listened to the start. Realized that I had plenty of time to get out of the corral, run to the porta-potty, do my business (no lines!!), and get back into the corral to stand for 15ish more minutes.

Finally I got up to the front, where the announcer guy did a great job of firing me up!! Perhaps too good - first mile was 9:30ish pace, which I think is too fast for comfort at the end... I felt good. Didn't even really look at my Garmin until the first aid station, where I called Preston to tell him I was close, but then I missed him at our first meeting point!! Hells, I tied my shirts around my waist, resigned to running for 6 more miles with them on, boo!! Then I just enjoyed myself for the next several miles, with the exception of that beastly long hill around mile 4,wtf?? The downhill afterward was bang-up awesome, though... Saw Preston at 8.5, again at 9.5ish, and 10.5ish. Really felt quite good til 11, then started to wonder if I'd ever finish... saw the lead marathon woman run by me when we both had 2 miles to go - that really puts it into perspective for you, doesn't it? That woman ran twice as far as me, only about 10 minutes slower than me. I mean, wow. The hill up into the finish line was a bitch, I'm not going to lie. That was somebody's idea of a sadistic joke, and it was soooooo not funny!

The course overall was really quite lovely, ran through some scenic areas of town, past the Alamo, and all of that. I'd be interested to run the marathon course that continued onto mission trail too...

After the finish line was another small grumbly... there were only 5 photo booths set up, and no way to bypass them. I was standing in this sea of thousands of people who were going nowhere, and I was cramping up really bad, with no ability to walk it off!! Finally one of the photogs started letting people walk through. Bad set-up, though, really. And no finisher's shirts, boo!! Medals are super nice, though, and heavy! Lots of variety in the finish foods.

Little trouble finding Preston in the sea of people, and still fighting cramping in my legs, so I headed back to the hotel, where he found me. After I cleaned up, he took my to my very favorite San Antonio/Austin eatery: EZ's Brick Oven and Grill. They have stellar cheese fries and oreo cookie shakes, and their Rosemary Chicken is the BEST EVAR. And I ate all of that. And took another shake to go for the drive home!

All in all, I enjoyed my first big event. The crowd support was really cool. I could tell that it was an inaugural event - the race organizers have a few things to work out (shuttles, photo booths, etc), but it was a neat-o event that I enjoyed!

Overall time: 2:14:21. A new PR!

Oh, yeah, the 2:15 pacers were right in front of me in my corral. They went out fast, so I kept thinking they'd come back to me if I just ran my race (I really wanted a 2:10ish), but they never did. Oh well...

The Garmin actually registered 13.33 miles for the half. There were so many turns in the course, maybe that is where I picked up the mileage. I tried not to do much weaving...

Garmin splits to come. Overall I ran this race more evenly than the Houston Half or the HMSA 25K, and I'm really happy about that. Next up, Dallas Turkey Trot. I'm really looking forward to it - it is only 8 miles, so I figure I can really try to put the pedal to the metal for it. When I hit 8 yesterday, I thought to myself, "At the Turkey Trot, this will be the end - how cool is that??"

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Some days...

Some days it is an accomplishment to just get out of bed.

Today was one of those days.

30 minutes slow run would make me proud of myself, if I hadn't shorted myself a swim and I didn't want to still go back to bed so badly...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

HMSA 25K Splits/Results

Garmin splits:
Miles 1+2: 20:17 (didn't pick up distance for first quarter-ish mile.)
Mile 3: 10:14
Mile 4: 9:55
Mile 5: 10:25
Mile 6: 10:19
Mile 7: 9:59
Mile 8: 10:31
Mile 9: 10:00
Mile 10: 10:49
Mile 11: 10:15
Mile 12: 10:46 (bathroom break)
Mile 13: 11:57
Mile 14: 11:02
Mile 15: 12:33
.65: 7:19

Chip time: 2:46:27, 10:44min/mi. 39 of 74 in age group, 835 of 1135 overall.

Monday, November 10, 2008

HMSA 25K Race Report

Got up at 4:45, drank my coffee and ate my toast. Left the house at 5:30, arrived downtown at 6ish and had no trouble parking this time! Headed over to the race site, used the facilities (kudos to the brilliant race director who decided to put the facilities under street lights so that people could see!!!), and found a lovely curb to snuggle with Preston and get bitten by mosquitos on until the start.

My Garmin was grumpy since we were starting under a building-bridge, so although I started the timer, I didn't get any GPS data until around a quarter of a mile into the thing.

I had run part of this course before - the Dad's Day 5K in June of 2007 took place here. I remember how daunting that hill seemed on that day. It was still daunting yesterday, but this time I was going to have to run it 6 times!!

The course is a hilly 3 loop course. I got the feeling that the out was a bit more down hill, and the back was more up hill, and also with a headwind.

I started out a little slower than my past two races. I thought that perhaps pacing is why I keep dying at the ends of these longer races, so my goal was to run between 10 and 10:30's for the first loop, then pick it up a bit if I could. I was sucessful in this new pacing plan, as my splits will show, though it didn't prevent me from dying in the last 3 miles.

I definitely felt better for the full first 10 miles than I have in my past two races. I felt strong, and I was running along at a clip that I felt I could maintain. I walked only the water stops. I sat Preston twice per loop, which I enjoyed very much.

I was feeling a tiny bit tired as I headed out onto the third loop, but I knew I'd be ok at least until the 1st water stop, since there was plenty to keep my mind occupied until then.

As I approached the 2nd water stop, I started to feel that I was going to have to take a bathroom break, and when I saw an open facility, I jumped in. Although the stop only kept me for about a minute, I felt stiff as I started running again, and it was after this point that I really started to struggle (just before mile 12).

I still crossed the half marathon mark faster than 2 weeks ago (by a few minutes). However, at that point I was struggling sufficiently that my goal became to NOT WALK anything but the last water stop. I felt like all the walking was my big disappointment at the Houston Half, and I didn't want to fall into that trap again. I keps shuffling along, checking my watch for how much farther I had to go, multiplying by 10 and telling myself that I only had that number of minutes to go. I noticed landmarks from the first two loops and talked myself through them to the last water stop. From there I was able to process the concept of running to the end, which I did.

I experienced some cramping after I stopped, just as in the Houston Half. I must work on this.

I don't have my official time, yet, but I think I was around 2:46:something. I will post the Garmin splits and the final results as soon as I can.

I'm a bit sore today, and feeling a little tired, but otherwise I am fine. I wish that I was faster, but try to keep reminding myself that for this season, just finishing the races and going the distances should be my most important goal. I am very pleased that I seem to be able to go a few miles farther in each race before the wheels come off.

My hope now is that in the Rock n' Roll San Antonio Half Marathon next weekend I will finish the whole race and not feel bad at all. If the pattern continues, this is a reasonable expectation!

Friday, November 7, 2008

HMSA 25K On the Way

HMSA 25K is this Sunday, and I'm running it.

I'm rather hoping for redemption from the Houston Half's rather disappointing run...

I am feeling better. I've hit all of my runs this week, all of my workouts, and I've really felt good for almost all of them (yesterday's 4 miler being the exception, but I'm certain that it was just the weather - I slept in and ended up running in 70 degree temps instead of my beloved 50's). I really feel back on track after two weeks of feeling almost-but-not-quite-sick, and definitely in the doldrums.

I ran up to Luke's yesterday and grabbed two new wristbands and a new set of socks to try, and most importantly, an Amphipod pouch that will attach to my running shorts for me to carry my gels in on long races when I don't want to run with my Fuel Belt. I know not to try anything new in races, but I will be trying that. If something bad happens, well, it is a 3 loop course, so I can toss the pouch off to Preston if I need to.

So, my goals? I'd really like to run anything sub-2:35. That would be 10 minute miles. I believe that I need to try to go out just a bit slower so hopefully I don't blow up so badly at the end, so that is a goal. In the absence of these two goals, I just want to finish! It'll be my longest race to date, but I've also got a shot at redemption coming up next week at the San Antonio Half, so I need to focus on not doing so much damage that I feel terrible and miss all of my workouts next week. I know that all it takes to do that is a super-slow pace, so even though I want a sub-2:35, I recognize that it may not be wise, and will try to run my race accordingly.

I'll post the results on the flip side...