Thursday, March 4, 2010

Blog in Profile & Address

I decided to put my now going-forward blog in my profile, for the few that may check here for updates from time to time.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

One More Blog Change

I've taken down all posts except the races I ran while blogging here, but have decided to move my blogging over to a new place for various reasons.

It's not listed in my profile, so if you want to follow it, just email me, and I'll give it to you.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

1/17 Chevron Houston Marathon - 2:40:02 PR

2:40:02 (PR)
6:06 avg pace
36th Overall
31st Male
7th in Age Group
7th Local Finisher

1 -6:14
2 - 12:14 (5:59)
3 - 18:09 (5:55
4 - 24:14 (6:04)
5 - 30:26 (6:12
6 - 36:32 (6:06)
7 - 42:38 (6:06)
8 - 48:43 (6:05)
9 - 54:48 (6:05)
10 - 1:01:00 (6:12)
11 - 1:07:07 (6:07)
12 - 1:13:10 (6:03)
13 - 1:19:12 (6:02)
13.1 - 1:19:50
14 - 1:25:12 (5:59)
15 - 1:31:19 (6:07)
16 - 1:37:24 (6:05)
17 - 1:43:26 (6:02)
18 - 1:49:27 (6:11)
19 - 1:55:40 (6:03)
20 - 2:01:41 (6:00)
21 - 2:07:42 (6:01)
22 - 2:13:43 (6:01)
23 - 2:19:48 (6:05)
24 - 2:26:00 (6:12)
25 - 2:32:25 (6:25)
26 - 2:38:46 (6:21)
26.2 - 2:40:02 (1:16)

I have not had the chance to write anything yet, so I'm just posting my splits and some cool stats at the top. HUGE race for me...most complete marathon I've run to-date. No if's and's or but's about it. Race report to come.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

11/26 - Sheltering Arms Turkey Trot 10k - 33:54 (watch time), 8th Place OA

5:27 avg pace
Mile 1 - 5:15
Mile 2 - 10:40 (5:24)
Mile 3 - 16:05 (5:26)
Mile 4 - 21:37 (5:32)
Mile 5 - 27:04 (5:27)
Mile 6 - 32:45 (5:41)
Finish - 33:54 (1:09)

First off, this was a huge PR for me over the 35:02 @ Bayou City back in '08. For that I'm very excited.

I got to the start line looking around at who was there, and honestly didn't recognize too many folks there. Bill was running the 5k, so I knew not to worry too much about what he was running early. My goal was to get as close to 33:00 as I could.

We took off at the gun and right away, the usual band of characters blasted out like they were running the I stayed to the left side of the road and just focused on a relaxed early stride. In the first mile, that sorted itself out. Just past Westheimer down Post Oak we hit mile 1 @ 5:15. This was considerably faster, by about 5-10 seconds, than I had wanted, but it didn't feel too bad. I know that probably had more to do with the first quarter of the run, which is typically pretty fast. So, I just stuck to the effort I was giving at this point in the race. One guy was running away pretty fast, and there was just a couple of people between me and him. However, as I passed the 3rd place guy, I heard a group coming up behind me.

There were several guys in this group. We caught 2nd place, then he joined us. Turns out this would end up representing 2nd through 7th place. As we headed through 2 miles, I knew that this was going to take some good effort to maintain pace. Mile 3 was right on pace with mile 2, but this group had put about a 5-10 second gap on me. I tried to keep relatively close in mile 4, but had slowed myself to 5:30.

With 2-miles to go, I was looking to pick it back up and make a strong charge to the finish. I felt relaxed, but was definitely feeling the weight coming in my legs. They were starting to feel heavy, but I was still able to move well. I felt good about the fact that I got back into the mid-5:20s for mile 5, and really expected to keep this for mile 6. Looking back, I realize this was an up and down mile. I seemed to charge forward, then stiffened up, then charged a little again, the tightened again. Was not the best formula. I feel some disappointment in how this mile turned out, being my slowest mile, and actually slower than mile 13 in the Half from a few weeks back. That's definitely disappointing... we're talking a full 15 second fall off from mile 5 to mile 6.

Nonetheless, i was working hard throughout this mile. I hit the 6-mile mark and just charged with what i had left to the finish, knowing I had a huge PR in my pocket. I would have liked to have placed better in the race, but that is all coming in due time.

Bill won his race, on what seems to be a short 5k course. I was blown away hearing he'd run 15:00 or sub-15, but turns out it might have been as much as .11-.15 miles short. That sucks, cause he might have been on his way to a huge PR himself.

Off to chow down on some Turkey. Happy Thanksgiving all!

Monday, October 26, 2009

10/25 - Houston Half Marathon - 1:15:33 PR

Time - 1:15:33
4th Place OA, 2nd in AG
5:46 pace
1 - 5:46
2 - 5:44
3 - 5:49
4 - 5:49
5 - 5:52
6 - 5:46
7 - 5:49
8 - 5:44
9 - 5:50
10 - 5:42
11 - 5:42
12 - 5:43
13 - 5:39
13.1 - 0:38

Overall, this has to be the best race I think I've run since PR-ing at 800m in 1:59 probably 3 or 4 years ago now. It was a complete race from start to finish, finishing stronger than at any point during the race.

I went into this feeling as confident as I had at any point in my racing career. With a Tuesday workout under my belt, in which Sean had driven into my head the importance and benefits of following someone else and staying relaxed, I committed myself to finding the 5:45 opening pacers and latching on there.

I found that from the start in Gerardo Mora, as he went out like a machine...5:46, 5:44. There was little to contend with as far as crowds of "sprinters" from the gun. A few hung on for a while, but I just kept my eyes focused on Gerardo's back. Rudy Rocha was up there, as well as Tom King, so I just tucked behind them. As the early miles clicked off, and we headed towards the end of the first loop, it was Gerardo, myself and Rudy all together. I knew Tom wasn't far behind, as I kept hearing folks cheer for him as we went by. I believe at this point, we were 7th, 8th and 9th.

Early in loop # 2, I decided to get the lead of this group from Gerardo, fully expecting him to stay with me, however upon reaching the turnaround just past the halfway point, I realized that there was a significant gap. During that time, I was wondering if I was making a mistake. I came through 10k less than a minute off of my 10k PR from last year's Bayou City Classic. I was no longer following someone, but working all on my own, with my eyes on a guy in a green racing top. Turned out to be alright, as my miles through 6, 7 and 8 were good. During this time, I also heard some cheers from folks I knew... runners going the other direction, folks on the sidelines...all music to the ears.

Wrapping up loop 2, heading back towards downtown, I caught the guy in green, and together he and I passed by Luis Armenteros, who had slowed to a jog along the course. I knew that he and Sean had probably toasted their legs over the week and prior weeks of racing and hard workouts, so I wasn't totally surprised, but a little nonetheless. At this point, I didn't realize my position in the race. I repeated aloud to myself to stay relaxed and stay smooth. Focus on form, don't worry about the time, just stay relaxed. It worked, cause I was closing in on the next guy as well. On the first half of loop # 3, I saw Sean on the side. He yelled at me to Keep digging. Keep digging... that I was in 4th place. Another couple of guys ahead shouted at me that 3rd place was right in front of me. As we made our way through people, lapping the field, I couldn't see anyone that seemed to be placing in front of me. As I got ready to hit the turnaround for the final time, I got some encouragement from some friends out there, and I was on my way back for the final 2 miles.

After the turn around, after coming past the "hills" of Allen Parkway for the final time, I caught sight of the 3rd place guy, and I was surprised how quickly I felt like I was closing on him. The smart thing to do would have been to have caught and then sat off his shoulder anticipating that final push. Instead, after sitting for just about 10-20 seconds, I surged past him, hoping I'd be able to hold that push to the finish line, but it wasn't to be. I did a couple of things wrong there that I'm learning how to do... one I went too early, and 2nd I changed gears too quickly with no transition period. I gassed myself pretty quickly, and he caught back up and sat off my shoulder until about half a mile to go, maybe less. When he went I tried to match his move, but had nothing. Nonetheless, I ran my fastest mile to close the race, and ended up 5 seconds behind 3rd place.

What I'm most proud of is that in the final 4 miles, essentially the last loop, I ran 5:41 pace, which was faster than any other 4-mile stretch in the race for me. I ran a faster 2nd half than 2nd or 3rd place, and for that matter, other than the overall winner, a faster 2nd half than anyone else in the race.

Now, the week is for recovery and getting the soreness out, then it's back to hitting the workouts, as there's still a long way to go before I'm ready for the marathon.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

6/6/09 - Heights 5k - 16:41, 6th OA, 4th in AG, Course PR

16:41 Overall Chip Time
No mile markers, and no Garmin so no mile splits.

I was looking forward to this race, hoping to run a fast time, looking to get sub-16:40. Rather than two hard workouts this week, I opted for the Tuesday "tune-up" workout of 30-30s. All in all, it seems to have worked out good to have helped me produce a stronger 5k than last week.

We toed the line, and all the big names were there... well, most of them. Sean, Lou, Bill, Joe O., Vaughn Gibbs, and only a few other front runners that I didn't recognize. Lou pulled Sean through two miles, then pulled up so did not finish. Two of the guys ahead of me I simply did not know. The other names I gave all finished ahead.

As we took off from the horn sounding, I tried to be fast but relaxed. I feel good that I settled into a good pace, not forcing it early in the race. The plan was to run a faster version of what I did at the Astros 5k... even through two and try to hammer it home. While I ran 11 seconds faster, and came within 12 seconds of my 5k PR of 16:29, I know that I fell off pretty handily in mile 3. I don't know where the mile markers were, but I was moving pretty swiftly through the half-way point, right on the tail of Joe Oviedo and another guy that I just did not know. We made the turn and headed back down Heights towards the finish and I really wanted to pick up the pace there...but just couldn't seem to do it. The drive was there... the desire was there, but the engine was starting to run low on fuel. Nonetheless, over the final half of the race, I lost about 4-5 seconds on Joe. I was watching the street numbers going by...8th St, 9th St, 10th St, racing back to 18th St. As I approached 11th St, that was where I hoped to be able to pick it up strong. Instead, I was fighting my body tieing up. I would feel it, try to drop my arms and lengthen my stride. About 30-seconds later, I had to do it again. I could feel I was losing ground, but I was pushing.

Finally came the final two blocks and I was really moving at top end for the day. I feel good about finishing as strong as I could today. My watch read 16:44, but Chip time came out 16:41, so I'll take it.

I'm amazed that I was able to come in 6th overall at this race, and walk away 4th in my age group and with no "hardware". I tell ya, that's frustrating, but also just pushes me harder. While Bill, Vaughn and Joe are out there ahead of me in this age group, I'm keeping them in my sights in hopes of at the very least, closing the gap on them.

I've never been this late in the year and been in this kind of 5k shape. Even better, I'm on the way up on fitness level. Even though it's getting hotter out, and 5k times will be tough to improve on, my fitness is going up. I'm excited about that, as we get closer and closer to Marathon Training time. That warmup series of 10-miles, half-marathon, 25k, then marathon are looking like good races down the line, as long as I can stay healthy.

Off to the showers now, then to get my new Adidas trainers, then to some family stuff.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

5/30 - Astros Race for the Pennant 5k, 16:52, 9th OA, 4th AG


Time - 16:52 (Chip Time... 16:56 watch time)
Splits - 5:28, 5:27, 5:28, 0:32 (final .1)

I went into this race with a couple of things in mind. First, I had not run a 5k since February, I think, when I ran the Med Center 5k. I didn't feel good about that race, and wasn't in very good shape at the time. Second, Boston training had really taken its toll on my legs, as well as the race, so I've been slow to get back into the hard, intense training of 5k training. This was only the 2nd or 3rd week of 2 speed workouts a week. Third, I did a full week of regular training... speed work Monday, hard, leg-sapping workout on Wednesday that left me less than energetic this morning when I got up to go race.

Lastly, I needed to get myself some sort of guage to determine where I really am, speed-wise. So, all of that is what I took to the start line of this race.

As I stood at the start, seeing Geoff, John Yoder, Sean Wade, Thom King, Vaughn Gibbs, Joe Flores, Joe Oviedo and others, I had to tell myself that today wasn't about racing for was about getting back to feeling what it's like to race a 5k. Having Milo Hamilton on the announcer stage there helped...he's a pretty funny guy, and his voice is so legendary when this close to the Astros facility. That really helped me relax.

So, the horn sounded and off we went, running straight down Crawford to Elysian. I let a lot of people get out ahead of me, focusing on my plan.... run through 2 miles around 11:00, then see what I have for the final mile. So, I eased through the flat part leading to the uphill of Elysian. I didn't want to slow, so to speak going uphill, rather cruise up, so I did, and ran with a guy wearing a Hanson singlet and John Yoder. I could see Thom and Geoff ahead of me, as well as Joe Flores and Oviedo right there as well. I past mile 1 feeling like I was running too slow, but was right on my goal pace. I told myself "one more mile just like that".

The Hanson guy sorta took off in the early part of mile 2 and got up next to another guy, who I thought was too far ahead of me to worry about. I inched away from Yoder here, and as we headed down the end of Elysian to the the turn around, I let the downhill carry me some. Saw the leaders that had hit the turnaround, and focused on finishing strong. Made the turn to the handful of people at this point cheering us on. As we turned and headed back towards the steeper part of the viaduct, I could see the Hanson guy, Thom King and another guy or two that I didn't know seemed to be going up the hill I decided to really accelerate, and I went by them all pretty easily. The heat and the hilly course were taking their toll, but I was reaping the reward of going out easy.

One HS kid tried to stay ahead of me through mile 2, and he succeeded, but he faded right around there. As we approached 2, I was motivated when I could see Flores and Oviedo as well, and felt they were catchable. I worked to stay on my pace and just focus on catching them. Mile 2 was right where I wanted it to be, so I thought I'd have the ability to really pick it up to close the race, but although I stayed even, it was enough to close the gap on those ahead of me to some degree.

As we made our mile 3, the two Joe's were coming closer, and I became encouraged even more. Oviedo pulled ahead of Flores, and as we headed down off Elysian back into downtown, I was really closing. As we made one of the turns heading close to the 3 mile mark, Joe Flores heard me, he glanced over his shoulder, and then I went by him. The last thing I wanted was to get caught by someone who I passed, so I really pushed with all I had left to the finish. I thought I could catch Joe Oviedo, but was running out of race. We passed 3 miles, and I knew I wouldn't catch him, but just wanted to run hard down the hill and to the finish.

Overall, for me this was a successful race. My legs were trashed from Wednesday still, yet I muscled through the end. I ran even on a tough course, which I don't think is common to do. I nearly negative split. And, most importantly, I stuck to my race plan when that is something I don't normally do very well.

Now, back to focusing on the week's training, my Tuesday morning fartlek workout with Sean and Co., and then getting ready for the Heights run.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

4/20/09 - Boston Marathon - 2:54:34, PR

Bib # 3250
Time 2:54:34
Overall - 748
Pace - 6:40

I've been putting off making a post, as that will pretty much close out this blog, as well as this "chapter" of my running life. But, that's all the more reason to get to it, huh?

Boston... I have to say that as it got closer, the magnitude of the actual race seemed to hit me, but at the same time, it calmed me. I'm not sure if I'll be able to actually describe it, but I was ready for the upcoming challenge of the race. I looked forward to seeing what Boston could throw at me. It was by far the hardest run I'd ever done.

1 - 7:14
2 - 6:32
3 - 6:34
4 - 6:15
5 - 6:25
6 - 6:18
7 - 6:10
8 - 6:32
9 - 6:22
10 - 6:22
11 - 6:24
12 - 6:19
13 - 6:19
14 - 6:20
15 - 6:30
16 - 6:19
17 - 6:40 (first of the Newton Hills)
18 - 6:45
19 - 6:51
20 - 7:02
21 - 7:25 (Heartbreak Hill)
22 - 6:48
23 - 6:59
24 - 6:58
25 - 7:27
26 - 7:16
26.2 - 1:27

First of all, it was amazing how many people were in front of me to begin with. I ended up 3 minutes back from the start line. I know even more now about the importance of a really good qualifying time. In the early part of the race, I focused on not getting anxious behind all the other runners. Running in a group/crowd is not at all something I feel good doing.

The first 5k rolled by pretty quickly. All of the early miles were pretty uneventful, with the coolest part being the participation of the crowd all along the early miles... so many kids out there lining the streets, with their hands out to high-five runners. The 2nd 5k rolled by just as uneventful, but I kept my mind on the use of my gels. My first one would be mile 7.

I made a committment to myself to get water at every stop. I know I'm not good at getting water while running, so I grabbed 2 cups at each stop, and really felt like I was getting enough. I had also commited to walking the stops to get my gels. So, as we neared mile 7, I pulled the gel from a pocket, hit my watch for the mile, downed the gel, and then made sure I was clear at the stop to grab 2 cups, walk, and down them both. For good measure, I even grabbed a 3rd cup and then I was off. As you can see, that slowed my mile 8 do about 10-15 seconds slower than my other miles.

Now, the race was spreading out a little, and now I had Wellesley to look forward to. As reported in magazines and countless little videos, you could hear it before you could see it. Passed mile 12 and not long after that, the sound began to come into my ears. It was mildly exciting to know what was coming. I stayed middle of the road, and was able to remain steady on my pace through that section. It was obvious those girls really enjoyed coming out to cheer on the runners year after year. Very cool stuff.

Next up was half-way, where I was just about on pace with what I thought I could do today. I was on pace to get just under 2:50, but I knew that the 2nd half of the race was the harder half, the money half, the gut half. And that was all yet to come.

From here, it was just holding pace until we got to the start of mile 17. Mile 16 closed with a big downhill, and once you hit the bottom of that, you turn right back uphill to start the Newton Hills. The first one starts just as your crossing an overpass, and doesn't really seem too bad. It's the first steep, steady uphill we face. Everything else was gradual or rolling, so to speak, so this was when your fitness, training and readiness all came to begin being tested. We made the first one with little fanfare. Just holding relatively steady @ 6:40 for that mile. The crazy part of the Newton Hills is that you don't get much downhill after you crest them. It's relatively flat to the start of the next hill.

Hill #2 seemed long... and that was a tough one. Still, there's a long way to go, so no matter what you're feeling, you can't freak out too much. Hill # 3 was the smallest, and wasn't too bad, but then came Heartbreak, and you get a good idea of why it's called that. You've been gradually bled in the first 3 hills. Heartbreak is almost like Hill #2, though not as long. Still, it's the toughest cause it's the 4th one, and really did a number on me. My slowest mile so far in the race was recorded here. But I wasn't really concerned about time at this point. I knew that half way through the hills, I had gone into survival mode. I'd taken my 3rd gel at 18 and my 4th at 21.

Finally, I crested Heartbreak and it was downhill to the finish... easy right? Wrong. Never had I felt like I felt in the final 4 miles. I tried to pick up the pace on the way down, as reflected by my 6:48 mile, but that was all I had left in the tank, and still what seemed an eternity to the finish. It was really trying the next miles, trying to hold it together. From one minute to the next, I went from feeling good, to feeling like crap, back and forth, all during the final miles.

Mentally, I knew that once we passed Boston College, there was a right turn, then a left onto Commonwealth, and that was it till we got to Hereford and Boylston. Still, Commonwealth seemed like a long ride down the road. I have to throw in here that before from before the Newton Hills began to here, I noticed that I was in the same pack... the same group of runners. We all passed eachother, back and forth over and over again over those final 10 miles. That told me each of us was going through the same thing. As bad as I felt like I was fading, it was strange that the same pack of probably 10-12 of us was passing people in front of us still who were falling apart worse than we were. However, we were staying together. That lifted me as much as anything in the actual race.

Finally came the final mile. Nothing was sweeter than seeing that big Citgo sign, Fenway park, the 40km sign and finally mile 25. Nothing would stop us from finishing now. I almost actually got a tear in my eye when I hit my watch at mile 25, saw my split (way slow), but even more so, knew that I was getting under 3 hours now by alot. It was only my 3rd marathon, but still, until this race, there was that doubt in my mind that I'd ever run a race without doing something really stupid and costing myself that one deal. Good feeling to know I was crossing that "threshold", so to speak.

Finally came Mass Ave, the run underneath a small bridge that, for all intents and purposes, eerily resembled one of the Allen Parkway hills, and here it was just 3/4 mile from the finish. We got back up that little incline, and there it was....the turn from Commonwealth to Hereford. It was right there.... half a mile from the finish. This turn was where all the largest crowd began. The noise was rising and really lifted us to the finish. Down Hereford for 2 blocks, then the left hand turn onto Boylston. What a mixture of feelings that anyone who's finished a marathon knows. The joy of being near the finish. The pain and exhaustion of having run 26 miles. The overwhelming desire to sprint to the finish, coupled with having fought off the overwhelming feeling to stop and walk for so many miles. Amazing. I looked at the crowds of people 8-10 deep along both sides of the street, all the way to the finish. Absolutely amazing.

I mustered the energy to raise my hands in the air, excited to finish, feeling overwhelmed that I'd just run the famed Boston Marathon, and jubilation of having run under 3-hours and PR'd on one of the toughest marathon courses in the world, if not the toughest. Who says Boston is not a PR course? :P I'm officially a Boston Marathon runner, a sub-3-hour marathon runner, and I've actually run a marathon and fought through the pain I've felt before, but this time ran it through to the finish... no walking. Honestly, I've never run anything so tough, nor have I ever felt so much pain during a race. This was one of the most awesome experiences ever. I'll do more marathons in the future, but this will always stand out for me the rest of my life.

Boston Marathon extras:

Here's some things that just didn't fit in with the telling of the actual running of the race.
  • I saw Geoff just a little before we were to head from Athlete's Village to the start line. We talked strategy and talked about the possibility of running together if we could get together. He was starting one corral in front of me, but we still discussed it, just in case. Turned out it was a good thing we didn't, as it's a toss up whether it would have helped me or cost me later. Geoff ran an outstanding race @ 2:48, a full 6 minutes ahead of me. His pace early for me might really have made it difficult to have hung on to the finish. My hat's off to Geoff for an outstanding race.
  • On our way to the start line, Geoff and I jogged a couple of blocks down one street and back. On the way down the street, going the opposite direction, we saw none other than Bill Rogers. I shouted to him "Hey Bill!" He waved, turned, and said "Hey! Good luck!" Awesome.
  • About 9 miles into the race, I ran past Team Hoyt, an inspiration to anyone who's ever even heard of them. I shouted a quick word of encouragement to Dick and Rick, heard countless others shout "Go Team Hoyt!" or "Go Dick!" I can't even describe just how meaningful it was to see these two on this famed course, one of the races they began qualifying for, and one of the most amazing parts of their amazing story.
  • After the race, as we finally got our way to the train station, we headed down an escalator, and while we awaited our subway, we walked by a lady down there, singing trying to get others to toss in some change for her. The song she was singing blew my mind... as close to literally as you can get to actually blowing your mind. If anyone has seen the movie Saint Ralph, there's a song played during the marathon race called Alleluia. The version in the movie is nothing short of incredible. Stirs my soul every time I hear it. Well, as we came down the escalator and walked past this woman, she was singing that song. My heart raced a little, and I turned to my brother and asked if he heard her, and he did. I mean, really... what are the chances?? If you haven't heard it, I'm not sure how you can hear it without getting the movie and watching it. It fits in perfectly, and is played at the right time to accentuate this part of the movie.
  • It was awesome travelling to run a marathon. Great stuff.
  • Around mile 14, I saw the most unexpected thing... a familiar face cheering us on. Olya was out there, awaiting Wayne, and as I ran down the right hand side of the road, shortly after taking a gel, I heard a "Go Sam", and was shocked, turned and saw her cheering. That caught me off guard, almost as much as hearing the song at the subway.
  • I wish I had counted the number of Dunkin Donuts on the route, but I have no doubt there were at least 8-10. They are like McDonald's there... every couple of blocks it seems. In the small town of Randolph where my hotel was, there were 2 within half a mile of eachother. Finally, on Tuesday morning, before heading to the airport, I got to enjoy one at breakfast.
  • It was an awesome feeling to have dinner with a group of Houston runners who'd run Boston at Grill 23 that evening. Olya, Wayne, Lance, and 4 or 5 others who's names escape me at the moment greeted me with applause when I arrived in the section they had reserved for us to eat. I had been the fastest among that group, and they almost embarrassed me with how awesome they all congratulated me on my run.
  • I made one phone call from the streets of Boston... all I could say was "That was the hardest thing I've ever done" and "I just ran the Boston Marathon."
  • I was 3rd among Houston-area runners, and 14th among Texas runners to finish.

And there's just about all I can think to fit into this inexcusably long post. Thanks for anyone who actually made it through to the end of it. Later all!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Final Boston Countdown

It's just about here, and I'm sitting in my hotel room, as my brother, nephew and parents are on their way to the Red Sox game at Fenway. One of the first things I did was go and get my race # and my Boston jacket....

So, now I'm just relaxing, thinking about the day ahead, thinking about the race tomorrow. I drove the course with my brother and nephew last night, but will likely do it again while it's day light out and take a few pictures before the race day festivities.

I have to say very little has gone as planned this week...nothing bad, just not as planne...and I'm feel very calm about tomorrow. I've been nervous, excited, all that stuff. Today, as I sit here, I feel prepared. I won't say overly confident, but prepared. Nothing will be a surprise tomorrow. The only variable will be how my body responds when it's time to go. I've put in the miles, put in the long runs, put in most of the workouts. Now it's just time to perform. I'm nervous, of course, this being my first Boston... the grand-daddy of marathons. The Super Bowl of marathons, as one guy told me. There's a history to this city and to this race that is unmatched. I've seen Paul Revere's house, driven by Boston Harbor... I mean this city is a part of the birth of our great country. Talk about history. And then, I'm running a race that is the longest running race in the world, this being the 113th running of the Boston Marathon. And if I'm not mistaken, the course has been the same course since 1927. How much cooler can it get? So yeah... I'm nervous about all that.

And here I sit, having run the hills in Conroe, having toughed out, quite possibly, tougher running conditions than anything to be faced here. Even the last day was cold and ridiculously windy, and yet, alone, I was able to hammer out 24.2 miles in Conroe when I didn't feel at 100%. Today, my body is recovered, I'm trained... just overall, I feel ready. Ready to tackle the challenge. To run the course that has humbled so many and given a dream-come-true moment for so many others. I'm ready to get to Hopkinton and start the race, to see the small towns go by, step by step. I'm ready to hit 16 miles and begin the infamous Newton Hills and culminate that experience with Heartbreak Hill. I'm ready to crest Heartbreak and begin the downhill run to the finish. Yeah, we drove it... it's not purely downhill...there's still some hills there...but it's the homestretch. I hope to push to the finish there.

I don't often try to relay goal too early, but I'll put it out there now.

I trained with the idea of 2:40 in mind. Honestly, had I been better prepared for the Houston Half, and completed THAT training properly, 2:40 might be realistic. Being here, I'm planning on going out at closer to 2:45 pace, maybe even 2:50 pace through half way. It's mainly downhill there, and the faster part of the course, but no need to use it up there. From there, still go easy so to speak until the Newton Hills. I won't go hammering the hills, but pushing through them will be what I have in mind and then going for it for the final 4 miles. I'd love to get 2:40, but I'm not sure if that's realistic. We'll see where I'm at @ 21.

I want to thank Sean Wade and his Kenyan Way training program for getting me prepared for this. Best training around, in my humble opinion. I want to thank all of those close to me and at a distance who have given me the kind of support one can only dream of but never really ask for. It's been unbelievable. My daughter is my inspiration... I can't even put it in to words. Lastly, and most imporantly, I thank God for giving me these abilities, this opportunity, and for surrounding me with those who have helped me get just a little closer to learning my potential. I'd be nowhere without Him.

So, there we have it. Time to sign off, and just relax more. I'm in Boston for the Boston Marathon, and I'm loving this feeling. Talk to yall again after.....

Sunday, February 15, 2009

If all we want to do is feel good about ourselves, jogging is the ticket. It doesn't challenge us. It doesn't test us. It doesn't exact a physical or psychological toll. Worst case scenario is, jogging may cause mild perspiration on color-coordinated sweat suits. But if we're willing to push ourselves into uncharted territory, a place littered with broken bodies and remnants of the human psyche, running may be what we're looking for. Without question, it dishes out more heaping helpings of humble pie than any sport we know of. Little wonder that so few people have the testicular fortitude to lace up and run like an animal.

- taken from a Pearl Izumi add in the March issue of Runner's World.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

1/31 Texas Med Center 5k - 17:32, 6th OA, 3rd AG (Long Course)

Missed mile 1 marker
2 miles - 11:30
3 miles - 5:32 (17:03)

It's very tough to guage this run, cause the course was long, but not sure by how much. It seemed to be a consensus among the top guys here that it was quite likely about a .1 or more miles long, for me, equating to about 33 seconds, bringing my time potentially just under 17:00. I was hoping for better, and thought I had better in me, but it just wasn't there. I'm not confident in any of the mile markers, so I don't know that my 3rd mile is accurate, but I know that I ran hard in the closing mile of the race, and felt like I ran pretty well.

The worst part is that I contemplated wearing my Garmin for the run, as I hadn't done a 5k since July 4th, I think. I wanted to be able to see if/when I fell off the pace, if I was erratic, etc. But I chose not to, as I don't wear it for racing. But today, I really should have gone with my gut and worn it. That would have erased a lot of guess-work on this one.

Oh is moving along well at this point, and I have potentially the Bayou City Classic to look forward to. I really need to look at how my long runs will go and when they will be before determining what races I'll be running, if any between now and Boston.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Racing Toughness

Part of me doesn't want to make this post cause of some of my lesser "fans" who think little of me as a runner due to my lack of consistency. However, it's just something on my mind since the Half, so I thought I'd just type it out, for the heck of it.

For those I've talked to at great depth about running, there's one thing I really admire about many runners that I don't necessarily feel that I've really shown, and that's toughness on race-day. It's not trainable, nor is it something you can teach someone how to find. It's just something that you either pull out at the right time in a race/run or you don't. When I think about my racing, that's something I feel like I've lacked and it's cost me some good race times.

A for instance could be this last race, the Houston Half. I have no doubt that I ran my butt off that Sunday, and I'm pretty proud of the time and the effort I gave out on the course. When I crossed the finish line, I could barely slow walk, and I felt 100% confident in saying that I'd given it all. And maybe a lot of this is hindsight being 20-20, but I'd love to have another shot at that final 1.5 miles. Actually, maybe the final 3. I know that I ran hard, but I just wonder if I really did have the ability to pull out one final gear in the final stretch, to have prevented those 4 women from passing me on Rusk. I know I pressed hard, but it just wasn't that finishing "kick", that I'm sure many of us "fantasize" about... the sad part is that I feel like many if not most other runners who's blogs I read and just runners I talk to have that gear.

Now, my explanations could be viewed as me just trying to explain it away, but I don't think so most of the time. There's the group who fly out of the blocks when the race starts, then battle through the middle of the run at a much slower pace, then just hammer it the final half or quarter mile. There's the folks who start out at a realtively "easier" pace (not to say an easy pace, but easier) with the intention of kicking at the end.

I can't even tell you how many times I wonder what's wrong with me when, even when I'm trained and well prepared, I see someone tell me they aimed for a goal time and came in a minute or more ahead of their goal for a race, and we're talking 5k and 10k. It's not how much they come under, but just how often I see that folks hit their goal times.

Then I think back to my best race of 2008, the Bayou City Classic, where I shot for running 5:30s, and came home with an average of 5:38, I think...whatever 35:04 is. Long and short, I missed that goal time too. So, do I just set goals that set me up to fail? Do I set myself out to run a time and hit a pace that leaves me wasted at the end, to where even the toughest of the tough-as-nails types wouldn't have enough to kick? Do I just push myself hard enough in the first 90% of the runs I do that I have nothing left to "pick it up" in the final 10% of a run? Well, I don't really know, but it bothers the heck out of me.

With the fact that I didn't feel well-prepared for the Houston Half, my biggest fear, so to speak, was what was coming around 9 or 10 miles. I approached it, though with an attitude of anticipation this time though. I ran smooth and worry-free and just looked forward to when the time to press through would come. While I ran a good time, I feel like I let myself down some by falling off the pace. With Boston on the horizon, I can't help but feel some anxiety and some excitement at what will come in miles 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21....this is the time that I need the most toughness but, as I've said, I don't know that I've ever shown it.

What I hope to do in my prep for Boston is to be so well trained that I put off the need for 'toughness' till as late in the race as possible, so that if I call on my body to respond and it doesn't, that I am far enough in that I lose as little time as possible, and can still finish at or close to my goal time. This brings in the dilema I have of whether I want to run to have some time in the "bank" late in the race, or do I run the 1st half in a manner that sets me up to run a strong 2nd half? My inexperience with Boston may be part of the reason for my dilemma, but it's all part of my mental gymnsastics.

If anyone ever looks at the mile splits of my long runs and wonders why I run the way I do, why I finish a long run seemingly pushing the pace, it's this feeling I have inside of feeling like I'm preparing myself for those closing miles. Preparing to finish strong. Granted, it's in a different realm trying to close a long-run @ 6:30 pace and closing a race @ 5:30 pace, but it's the mindset, I guess. I don't know that it makes any physiological difference, but psychologically it seems to for me.

I don't know... just something I've been thinking about and thought I'd put out there. Time to snack and get to sleep.

Monday, January 19, 2009

1/18 - Aramco Houston Half-Marathon, 1:17:18-PR

Half-Marathon - 1:17:18
5:54 avg pace
Overall - 91 (11th
Overall Male - 65
Age Group - 7th (1st Non-Elite)
12th Texan (I'll take that)

6:02, 5:41, 5:40, 5:58 - 23:21
5:55, 5:47, 5:52, 5:48 - 23:22
5:56, 5:58, 5:54, 6:04 - 23:52

When training began, I wanted to run 1:15 for this race. I knew it would take a ton of work. Having not done all the work necessary, I modified my goal a couple of weeks ago, and just saved my legs. I wanted to run in the 1:16s, and thought I had that fully in my grasp. In order to do 1:15, I'd need a 5:43-5:45 pace. I thought I'd give it a shot at 5:45 if could get there and hold it.

As the gun sounded, and a whole host of elites in front of us, I was a little unsure of where to "settle" in to get my pace right. I got a comfortable stride going and got into a rhythm right away, as I ran past a few folks. As we hit Elysian, I got in right beside a few folks, and just thought I'd sit right there... then we came upon the first mile marker, and as we approached, I knew I was going way too slow. So, I picked it up right away... and it felt good too. No strain, didn't feel too hard. At this point, I felt very encouraged.

As we cruised through miles 2 and 3, I was amazed at how quickly the race was going by. As we wound towards Montrose, this was the part of the race that I thought would be the most important, as it's a long stretch down one road, no turns (curves, but no turns) to the turn around @ about 8.5 miles. At this point in the course, I felt fast and strong...faster and stronger than I did in the first 4 miles, even though they came out just about even. I knew at this point that 1:15 was out of the question, but I wasn't worried about that, cause the pace was just what I wanted.

The best part was passing people all along this part of the race... from Studewood to Studemont to Montrose, turning around @ 8 and heading back towards Allen Parkway. All along here, I was passing people...not because I was accelerating, but because I was running my race and holding a steady pace.

Once we hit Allen Parkway and turned towards downtown, I knew the race was on. Here is where my faltering in training hurt me. I was able to get about half of this part running hard. But as we neared downtown, each time I called on a little more, I became quite well aware that the tank was done. In the final 1.5 miles, I was overtaken by 4 runners... all elite females, and all finished within 2 seconds of eachother and about 6-7 seconds in front of me. One other guy who I ran side-by-side with from about mile 9 through 12 also put on a strong closing mile, and he finished a good 16 seconds ahead of me.

Despite the finish, I felt proud of my effort. When I tried to close on these folks, I made up ground, but just couldn't get to them, so I had something for the finish but not much. I really do feel like I left it all on the course today. When I saw the time clicking as I approached the finish line, I was extremely happy at the huge PR. One of the other exciting things was the PR @ 10-miles. I've never run under 1-hour for 10-miles, but today I did....58:40, by my watch. No mats there, so nothing electronic, so technically it's unofficial, and it will remain unchaged on my PR section of my blog, but I felt amazing @ 10-miles for having run almost a minute and a half under the best 10-miles I'd done to date.

Some notes about things along the run. Friends cheering me on... awesome. I loved seeing those that came out just to cheer, and it's especially appreciated when you're on the list of specific people that someone is looking for. That was awesome. Hearing your name called out as you run by is a great feeling.

I made an effort to rely on my legs and not go to my arms till the going got tough late in the race. Until that point, it was all a leg race. Not sure if I'm conveying that correctly, but I believe it's been a problem for me in distance races. When the time called for it, I went to them, but I made every effort not to do that a second sooner than necessary.

I'm definitely needing to experiment with Gels for racing. I didn't take one today, but I can't help but wonder if that would have made a difference for me, either mental or physical, in the last 2 miles. I've only taken Gels in one race... last year's Houston Marathon, and I believe it helped me hold off the effects of having had the flu full force 6-7 days prior.

Okay... it's late, and I need to get my butt out of work. I worked late, then thought I'd get this done before heading out... now it just got later, darn it. Gotta scoot!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

11/16 San Antonio Half-Marathon - 1:19:45

6:06 avg pace
mile 1 - 6:10
mile 2 & 3 - 17:47 (11:37)
mile 4 - 23:51 (6:04)
mile 5 - 30:17 (6:26)
mile 6 - 36:05 (5:48)
mile 7 - 42:13 (6:08)
mile 8 - 48:09 (5:56)
mile 9 - 54:16 (6:06)
mile 10 - 1:00:29 (6:13)
mile 11 - 1:06:39 (6:10)
mile 12 - 1:12:55 (6:15)
Finish - 1:19:45 (6:50)

I was shooting for a better time, but was not able to bring my pace down like I thought I would. I opened up and started out slower than planned. It's likely that I hurt myself during miles 2 and 3. In mile 5, we ran uphill for about 3 blocks... definitely the slowest mile, and coming back down from that, hitting a 5:48 mile didn't feel all that bad. From the half-way point on, my run was very back and forth. I would pick up the pace, then start to feel like crap and my pace would slow... I'd get mad at myself for slowing and pick it up again, and back down till I got mad again and took off.

I feel 2 big things about this race... (1) I'm in better shape, but just have gone so long without racing, I can think of plenty of places along the course where I lost time. (2) I battled through to get the time I did. I feel good about the effort, and feel good with the time. When I knew I wouldn't get my goal time, I simply wanted to get below 1:20, which I thankfully did.

Time to start getting myself ready for Houston.