Thursday, October 29, 2009

Houston Half Race Report

A.K.A. Worst. Half. EVAR.

Not the race or the organization or anything. Just for me. This seriously sucked.

I got sick on Thursday after the 10 Miler. I had actually been running at an elevated body temp since Monday after the 10 miler, but I didn't feel bad until Thursday. When I started feeling like absolute shit. Then I started running around a 100 degree fever. I basically layed around all weekend, totally skipping my long run on Saturday.

Came back to work, and running, on Monday, but still not feeling 100%. Really not even feeling 50%. I never went to the doctor, but Preston got sick the next week, and his doc thinks we had the "dreaded" H1N1. That actually wouldn't surprise me, since what I had was worse than a cold, but better than the flu.

Annyways, I slowly felt better all week leading up to the Half. I ran 3 on Monday, 6 on Tuesday, and then unfortunately skipped Thursday due to pounding rain. I thought about making it up witha short 3 on Friday, but then figured the rest coming off the sickness would do me good.

Now, to the race report.

I got downtown in plenty of time this year, and headed over to the start line. The temp at my house was a pleasant-for-running 55, but downtown it was closer to 65. Mistake 1: wore capri tights instead of shorts.

I headed to the portacans. I have to compliment the organization at this race: there were extra packages of toilet paper outside every 3rd or 4th can, and I actually saw volunteers later arriving with further toilet paper reinforcements!

With about 10 minutes to go, I lined up. I thought the finish line was the start line, so I moved back and back.

Turns out that the start line was past the finish line, so I started waaaaaay too far back. Mistake 2. I passed *hundreds* of people in the first 2 miles, even though I was only running a 10:30ish pace.

I bypassed the first aid station which is only about half a mile into the race, but I diligently walked through every remaining aid station, always choosing Gatorade, except at 5 and 9 when I took a Honey Stinger with water.

I felt like crap from the very beginning. That 10:30 pace that was passing so many people didn't feel easy to me as it should have. I comforted myself that I didn't feel that great in the Ten for Texas, but after 2 I felt awesome.

So I kept gutting it out, running, walking only the aid stations. But I never felt any better.

I finished the first loop in that fashion and headed out for the second. Sometime around 6 miles I looked down and realized I had been running for an hour! Shortly after that I passed the 10K mark (1:02ish), and then soon after that, the halfway point/relay handoff. 1:06ish. I was on PR pace if I could keep it up or negative split, but I knew then that there would be no PR. I was already tanking at the halfway point. As I ran by it I jealously thought of my friend who was only running the relay. I kept running because of the crowd, but as soon as I rounded the apex of the loop and turned for home a second time, I was taking my first unauthorized walk break.

From there, it is a story of more and more walking, and less and less running.

Saw Preston on my way out on the 3rd loop. Told him I felt like crap, and he said, well, just walk if you have to.

Have to I did, and walk I did. A lot.

Final time: 2:31:23
First half: 1:09:10
Second half: 1:22:14

I want to talk about how I felt, and why. I felt awful, put simply. I felt slow. I felt like you feel when you sprint, and you reach your breaking point, and you simply have to slow down. Only I wasn't sprinting. I felt like my chest was tight, like I couldn't breathe as deeply as I usually do. I felt hot. I felt tired. I felt like there were entirely too many hills. I felt like I wanted to quit.

I didn't quit. I am calling it a "good mental training day". But I am bothered by the whole thing. I can't identify one cause or a major cause for this terrible performance. The only thing I can think of is that it was a combination of the heat, the hills, my clothing, my sickness...? Whatever it was, it was super lame.

And to add injury to insult, I chafed. On my ass.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

10 for Texas Race Report

I don't really think my training has been going that well, and I think I've got plantar fasciitis in my right foot, so I really really didn't know what to expect from this race. I was hoping for a PR - my 10 mile PR is 1:39:48 from USA Space City 10 miler last year, but I really wasn't sure I could pull it off. To top it off, I didn't really feel like I was racing. I didn't get super nervous, Preston wasn't coming with me... I just really didn't know what to expect.

Last night I finally decided my strategy was, since this was a 'C' race for me, was just go go out relatively hard (defined as sub-10's), hold it for as long as possible, and if I had anything left after 7, to kick it to the end. I wanted to talk only aid stations.

The weather this week has been miserable. I'm talking 80 degree temps with 90% humidity at 4am. All week. It has truly sucked. But the weatherman promised a cool front yesterday, and he freaking delivered! It got down into the upper 50's last night! So this run was literally going to be over 20 degrees cooler than my last run!

This did present me with a bit of a dilemma. I had set out my standard black shorts, black sleeveless running top ensemble for this race, but I was a bit worried about being cold. I was temped to run in my capri running tights for a little extra warmth, but also for chafe-protection and the nifty zipper pocket that could hold my gel. I decided to go for the capris, again on the justification that this race isn't really that important to me, so if I blow up, no biggie. Also, if it worked out, I'd know for the rest of the season, and that reason, if any, was good enough for me. After that, I did a totally girlie thing. I got those tights on and was displeased with my black sleeveless top because it wasn't quite long enough. I felt like my ass was displayed for the entire world to see in those tights. So, I decided to run in my Woodlands Fit tech tee from last year. The only time I've run in it before, I disliked it. I felt like it didn't let my body heat escape as well as my other technical clothing. This morning I thought that might be an advantage.

So, after all that, off I went.

Got there and parked with about 45 minutes to go, and headed for a restroom. Porta-john lines were long, and I wasn't about to use that when I knew that the Market Street flush toilets would be open. This was almost a mistake. I got in line at 6:58, and it was only maybe 20 people long. I finally got in at 7:25 with only 5 minutes left to the start! Women need to hurry the hell up in the restroom, and Market Street employees need to wait until after the 7:30 start to clean the thing. That's all I have to say about that.

With all that I was a little frazzled getting into the corral, and still completely uncertain as to what to expect.

The gun went off, and off we went.

I was cold. My muscles were cold. I just kept moving, knowing that I'd warm up after a mile or so. I picked a good line-up point, as I was passing about as much as I was being passed. Was super-annoyed at the 2 walkers that I had to skirt - seriously, start at the back if you are a walker! At almost exactly 1.25 miles, I got warm, and started feeling really pretty decent. My right knee has a giant bruise that I felt tweak a couple of times, but I didn't hear from my gimpy right foot at all. Before I knew it, I was up to the first aid station.

I've gotta address the aid stations. The first 2, specifically. There was no gatorade at all at the first one, and the water wasn't coming fast enough. At the second, there was gatorade, but nothing was coming fast enough, so after standing around for almost a minute (!), I finally grabbed a cup of water and kept going, though I really felt I needed Gatorade.

Mentally I was doing really well. I decided to mark my progress with respect to the aid stations. Every aid station represented a walk break, and the race could be 5 2 mile races.

At mile 5 they had a timer for us to cross. By my Garmin, I was 50 minutes and some seconds in. I was a little disappointed in that. I felt like I should have been sub-50. But I was still feeling good, so I was still hoping for the PR, though that meant I'd have to negative split the race to do it. (Something I don't think I've ever managed to do.)

At the 3rd aid station I took a gel, with yet more water. I still felt really good.

At mile 7, I looked down and realized I was 7 miles in and couldn't believe that I still felt so good. I mean, no pain. None at all. And still running strong 9:30's. This was the point where I said I'd kick it if I had anything left. I did have some left, so I started trying to run just a hint stronger.

Mile 7.5 was where the first bit of pain started. Right leg and butt. Nothing unmanageable, and certainly not unexpected. I just hoped it wouldn't slow me down!

Mile 8 aid station I finally got some gatorade!! I walked a bit farther than I had before, then really set out to kick it to the end. Only 2 miles to go. I looked at my Garmin and knew that I had a PR. I was at 1:08. Even if I slowed to 10 minute miles, I'd PR. This thrilled me. I sped up.

Mile 9, and we were hitting that bitch bridge that goes over Lake Woodlands. I was determined to run up it. It would NOT slow me down.

There was a surprise aid station on that bridge, so I grabbed another quick cup of gatorade with a quick walk to drink it, and then ran the rest of the way up that bitch.

Less than a mile, less than a mile, faster, faster, and I finally saw Market Street. People were lining the last bit, yelling that there were only 100 yards left (you still couldn't see the finish line here) and to kick it. I turned it on. I mean, really kicked it. I was passing people right and left! I could not believe that I was actually kicking it to the finish of a 10 miler. With a new PR. And not feeling like shit. It was fucking awesome. Totally rocked. Even the gun time was a PR for me.

I still don't have the official times, but here it is, according to Garmin:

Mile 1: 9:54
Mile 2: 9:37 (aid station)
Mile 3: 9:36
Mile 4: 9:36
Mile 5: 9:56 (aid station)
Mile 6: 9:27
Mile 7: 9:41 (aid station)
Mile 8: 9:21 (!!!!)
Mile 9: 9:31 (aid station)
Mile 10: 9:20 (aid station) (!!!!!)
Last little bit: :30

Total: 1:36:33

That's a 3 minute, 15 second PR at the distance. And something like a 3 minute negative split.

Seriously! Best. Long. Race. EVAR!!!