Sunday, October 29, 2006

Mission Im Possible

Today, I completed my first half marathon. Can I just say that again? Today, I completed my first half marathon. I guess it's still sinking in a bit. Last night, late, on my way to bed, I e-mailed coach Steeeve soliciting any last-minute advice on today's half. I did not check my e-mail again until after the race but when I got home, Steeve had responded. His response...


Guess I knew Steeeve would give that advice 'cause that's exactly what I did. I HAD A BLAST!!! Now, don't get me wrong. It was the hardest thing physically I've ever done but thanks to some great friends, an awesome running club, and my wonderful family cheering me on from home, this day gets filed way up at the top with some of the funnest days of my life.

I cannot say enough about how well this race was organized and run. I am so proud of my club, The Houston Striders, the organizers of the event. Barb, you put on a great show. Attention was paid to the smallest detail. Every mile marker had time keepers not only shouting out the clock time but also the pace. There were 2 time keepers at each mile marker. One would shout out the time, the other would shout out the pace. The person shouting out pace would read from a chart after her partner would shout out the time. So, you hear a resounding, "Forty-five, thirty. thirteen, twenty pace." Then 6 seconds later, "forty-five, thirty-six. Thirteen, twenty one pace..." Now, I'm not a very experienced racer but I don't think you get that at many races. There were well-managed water stops every one and a half miles with both gatorade and water, with energy gels at the stops around 8 miles. From the pre-race food to the post-race food to the band, and free massages from Koala Health and Wellness, packet pickup, chip pickup and drop off, results posting at the race, results acually online by midafternoon on race day... The whole thing was remarkable and made for a great experience. I'm so glad that this was my first half marathon. Aramco, you've got your work cut out for you. :) I know that behind the scenes, it must have been a logistical nighmare but Barb and the Striders made it all seamless to us runners. Great job, Striders!!!

I woke up before the alarm this morning, had a decent breakfast, and was out the door. I arrived in plenty time to mill around and visit with friends and talk strategy. It was like everywhere I turned, I saw a familiar face. I won't even attempt to name all the folks because this is going to be long enough. I met June in the parking lot and we picked up our chips. Pit stop and then back over to chip pickup area to meet one of my running partners, JoAnne. JoAnne and I have been doing long runs together. For the race, we agreed we wanted to start together and run a couple of miles together. Jo is an experienced runner and she knew that racing is individual so there was no pressure on either of our parts to stay together the whole race. Jo's normally faster than me so she worked her way up but I kept her in site and we were able to encourage each other at the turn around. Jo really finished strong which was her goal after crashing big time of dehydration on her previous half marathon. Jo ran so smart and patient and tough this morning and my hat is off to her. Way to go, Jo!!!

For the most part, Houston is flat. It hosts one of the fastest full marathons in the country. You really have to know where to go to get in any kind of hill work here in H-town. HOWEVER!!! Allen Parkway is a different story. The trails along Allen Parkway have a few gentle hills along Buffalo Bayou, but for the most part, running on the running trails is pretty easy and flat. But Allen Parkway, the street, has two underpasses between downtown and Shepherd that were killer. And given the fact that the course was 3 loops up and down Allen Parkway (well the first loop was just out Allen Parway and then it diverted south to complete), we encountered one of these underpasses 9 times. WOW!!! Is that right. Yep, one for lap one, then 4 for lap 2 and 4 for lap 3. This couse is not a walk in the park by any stretch, at least for this noobee!!!

My goal was to finish below 3 hours. That's right at 13:44 pace. A few minutes over 3 hours and I would have been ok. 2:50 and I would have retired. :) Glad to have the Garmin with me. Unfortunately, at the halfway point, I wanted to record my lap split but ended up pressing the STOP button. It was some time, maybe 2 or 3 minutes until I realized that I had stopped the clock. So the rest of my splits were off. Still, I continued to use the Garmin to pace myself, even though my miles were off. No matter. Like I said, the course was well marked.

The weather was very nice. Of couse, I'd rather it be in the 30's or 40's but I settled on dry and in the 50's at start. By the end of the race, it was closer to 70 but no humidity to speak of. I started out patiently. My first few miles were:

Mile 1 - 13:42
Mile 2 - 13:42
Mile 3 - 13:44
Mile 4 - 13:44

That was pretty consistent. I was feeling pretty good at this point and came to a place where a lot of people were passing on the other side of Allen Parkway. It was so awesome hearing my name and everybody encouraging each other out there. I swear, if someone wasn't shouting "looking good, Vic" from across the street, then someone was coming from behind (on their 3rd lap) saying "keep it up, Vic." Then, Steve was on the loud speaker around the halfway point and I hear, "...and here comes Vic Kaiser, right on pace for his sub-3 hour half marathon debut." One guy by the name of Dusty, I think, came up beside me and said, "are you Vic? Hello, I'm Dusty. Nice to meet you." It made me wonder if maybe he knew me from reading my blog or from reading an article in our club's newsletter and if just maybe he had ever been encouraged by something he read. I know one thing. It was meant a lot TO ME to meet Dusty and to get some words of encouragement from him. Thanks, Dusty. Anyway, for me this race really wasn't about my effort because I know if it weren't for the encouragement of runners and friends and my familiy, no way would I have been able to finish like I did.

Ok, on to the finish. Like I said, after mile 4, I was feeling pretty good. My next few miles were:

Mile 5 - 13:29
Mile 6 - 13:31

About here is where I screwed up the Garmin. It still recorded some miles they just weren't lined up with the course miles. I recorded a 13:26 and 13:40 next and then a 13:22. About here is where I started into my last loop and hit the first underpass. At this point, I started to feel something that kind of concerned me. My legs were feeling heavy. Now, I've run before with tired legs and with sore legs but never with HEAVY legs. It wasn't too bad but I was starting to feel it, especially after coming up from the underpass. Recorded a 13:59 which was good. I started replaying in my mind the thoughts I've had this week about being tough. To this point, I think I was patient but now was time to get tough

With about 5K left, I felt like the remaining distance would be familiar and manageable in my mind. 3 miles and some change. How many times have I done that? I can do 3 miles and some change. But I must admit, this was the toughest 3 miles I've every done. My legs were really starting to get heavy. I think if it weren't for the Garmin and knowin my actual pace, I would have thought that the effort I was putting forth was cerainly around 13:45 or so. I mean to me, I was picking it up a little and on my way to nailing these last 3 miles and change. But I looked down at my Garmin and it said I was cruising at around 14:05. Then at one time, I walked up the last half of the last underpass and my average pace for that lap jumped up to 14:20. I was realy losing it. So, once I leveled out of that last underpass, with about 1.5 miles to go, I started to concentrate, zone out even. I was running into the sun and it was taking it's toll. My legs reminded me of draggin big trash bags full of wet grass across the yard on a wed summer morning. Somewhere, though, I found a way to stay on pace, even pick it up a little. At about the 13 mile marker, things were a little vague. I heard some voices yelling my name but I did not look up. I don't know who they were but I think they were Striders and June and some of her friends. It's really kind of wierd thinking back on it now. I really don't remember much of that last .1 or .2 miles. I think June came out and ran a few yards with me. I'm not really sure. Some time before, Jon peeled away. He so kindly had run a mile or 2 with me down the home stretch. I don't really remember when he peeled off and let me run on to the finish. I do remember one thing, THAT BROWN MAT!!! It's just silly. I know I was just 100 yards from it but it seemed like it was 500 yards. I just looked at that mat and tried to pick up the garbage bags to make a b-line to the mat. As out of it as I was, I do remember looking down at the Garmin once in that last stretch to see my average pace. It was 13:38. I crossed the mat and everything came back into focus. Then I realized how heavy my legs really were. I made my way over to Lisa who so kindly untied my shoe and took my chip. Then she tied it back. I don't know if all this service was for me or if she was just scared I was going to fall over on top of her. LOL!!! Anyway, Lisa, ur a peach!!! Thanks for helping me out there.

Since my Garmin was so screwed up, I really didn't have a clue as to what my time was. I know the clock said 3:01:something but I didn't know my chip time. After 4 bottles of water, a banana, and a massage, my results were finally posted. Chip time, 2:59:56.3!!!. Can I say that again? Chip time, 2:59:56.3!!! Now, I would not have been down on myself at all for 3:02:00 or 3:05:00 but the 4-second, sub-3 hour half was SWEET!!!

Of course, I've heard others say this same thing. That was so hard and it was just half of a full marathon. How in the world would I possibly be able to do a full in January? Impossible!!! Well, if you asked me back in March if running a half marathon in 13:45 pace was in my future, I'd say you were crazy. Now, I'm starting to feel like a lot of things I never dreamed of may just be possible.

Friday, October 27, 2006

A little tough

Well, if Wednesday's 6-mile run was mostly about patience, Thursday's 3-miler was definitely about toughness. As much as a 3 mile run can test one's toughness, anyway. Summer's trying to die but Thursday afternoon found me running in the mid-80's with about 85% humidity and rain. This very much reminded me of last Wednesday when I totally crashed mentally under the heavy morning air. Well, not today.

Yes, it was only 3 miles but I was determined not to slog through these miles like a half-drowned rat. I stretched pretty good and felt well at the start. The plan for today, 3 easy miles. I stayed conversational through the workout and felt good. Around the 2 mile mark, I did start to feel that familiar just-walk-for-a-little-bit voice. I remembered the lesson from last week. That voice wasn't coming from my legs, they weren't tired. It wasn't coming from my lungs, I wasn't breathing that hard. This voice was coming from my mind and heart. So, I ignored it. I maintained my pace and kept running and finished strong. How tough would I have been with additional miles at this pace/effort, I don't know. But for those 3, I was happy.

Total miles - 3.0
Total time - 40:48
Mile 1 - 13:35
Mile 2 - 13:41
Mile 3 - 13:31
Average pace - 13:36

Now, off to Strider volunteer duties.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Be patient and tough


That’s right…it’s a marathon…be prepared to feel some discomfort at some point during the race. This is why we train. Training prepares our body to physically handle the miles at a given pace. Training also helps to mentally prepare us to stick things out when we might not feel like it. Be tough. -Kim Hager

Thinking about this morning's 6 mile training run, I wanted to concentrate on patience and toughness. Since I started doing mid-week long runs, it has not been a good experience until today. I did not get a chance to test my toughness this morning as patience won out big time. I knew that this 71 degree training run wasn't going to yield 6 sub-13 minute miles like the race conditions on Sunday did. I really felt like I needed to "remember" that very easy, long run training effort that I haven't executed in the past couple of weeks, racing 10 miles and 10K the last 2 weeks instead of long training runs. So, the theme this morning was patience. The only test of toughness was getting out of bed at 4:15 to make it to the park early enough to run and still get to work on time. I only snoozed once (8 minutes).

Here are the stats:
Total miles - 6.0
Total time - 1:23:21
Mile 1 - 14:10
Mile 2 - 14:12
Mile 3 - 14:01 (total for first 3 miles - 42:23 [14:08 pace])
Mile 4 - 13:50
Mile 5 - 13:41
Mile 6 - 13:28 (total for last 3 miles - 41:00 [13:40 pace])
Average pace - 13:54

I was very pleased with this morning's workout. I was patient with the pace and finished strong. I also had to take into account that I just ran 3 miles last night (about 9 hours before) so I'm good with the workout. 3 tomorrow and then off until the Half. If life allows, I'll meet the Striders tomorrow night for SMARTie Hop

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

3 easy and a familar face

3 easy miles on the schedule today. I failed to get up with my alarm this morning so I had to do it this evening. This kind of puts me in a jam because the 6 on tap for tomorrow will have to be done early in the morning. So, I really took these 3 easy, knowing 6 more were coming within the next 10 hours or so.

Here are the stats:
Total distance - 3 miles
Total time - 41:05
Mile 1 - 13:38
Mile 2 - 13:40
Mile 3 - 13:47
Average pace - 13:41 (target pace for the Half on Sunday)
Temperature - 70.7 degrees
Humidity - 56.8

I felt really good at that pace. I think I may be able to hand around there for 13.1 miles, provided the temps are good. It's looking like it's going to be a little cooler than it was this evening for the half so I'm feeling pretty good about the possibility of going sub-3. We'll see.

Oh, and who came up behind me, flying by at the speed of sound? None other than Pasadena's own Keith. What an honor to see this legend as he goes for a personal record 70 mile week this week. I found Keith at Memorial Park tonight during his 9 mile jaunt, his second workout of the day. Go Keith!!!

Anyone for pasta on Friday night?

I'm working late registration at Luke's on Friday night and will probably try to get out after that and get some pasta somewhere. Anyone want to join me? We can make it a "get-together". Maybe some trash talkin', some good eats, and of course a brew for Jamoosh or whoever else chooses to partake in such belt-bustin' beverages (not me!). :)

Post here and we'll start a list, then decide where to go. Or, if no one responds, I may just fly solo. No matter. It's all good.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

First 10K or Still Green

Well, I am continuing to gain experience, running my first 10K race this morning at the Bear Creek 10K. I may be gaining experience but it's apparent that I'm still very green. After I finished, Miriam extended her fist for a "cool runner's handshake" and a well done. I looked at her with a puzzled look and then down at my shirt thinking I had something on my shirt or something. Graciously, Miriam explained that no, she's not pointing at my shirt, she' offering one of those "cool runner's handshakes" where you basically just knock fists. I'm so stupid. Still, it was funny and worth mentioning.

This race was put on by my running club, The Houston Striders, and was FREE to anyone who wanted to race. One of the main reasons the Striders put on this race is because so many of our members are not able to race the Luke's/Koala Half Marathon next weekend because of volunteering duties. So, the Striders provide this FREE race as an alternative to running the half marathon or the half marathon relay next weekend. It' pretty cool that our local club can put on such a great event that is so well supported. We had water stops every 2 miles. There were mile markers every mile and an official time on a certified course. I may be wrong on the course certification but I know our club has run out here for many years and I'd take their word on the distance over any satellite or computer mapping any day.

I couldn't have asked for better conditions for my debut at the 10K distance. Unusually, the temps actually dropped after the start and through the finish. According to the weather at Hull Field, the temp at start was 59 and was 54 at the finish. The overcast skies gave no hint of rain and only helped keep us very cool and comfortable.

No pressure today since I was guaranteed a PR as a first timer. The plan was to just go out stong till I got warmed up, then try to hold that tempo effort as long as I could. It's the effort where I'm breathing hard but not gasping for air but if I ran any faster, I would be. I still don't know if that's how you're supposed to run a 10K. I just knew I wasn't going to RTYP!!! I knew going in that this a hilly course. Nothing major, not long steep hills. Just rolling hills. Up and down. My plan on the hills was to maintain an even effort going up the hills and then roll down the other side, parallel perpendicular to the ground.

So, the execution was pretty much as planned and my splits were pretty even. I picked it up a bit for the last .5 miles, to finish strong. I really liked the out and back course as I got to see everybody heading back and looking good. Here are the splits:

Total distance - 10K
Total time - 1:18:35
Mile 1 - 12:48
Mile 2 - 12:32
Mile 3 - 12:40
Mile 4 - 12:55
Mile 5 - 12:45
Mile 6 - 12:44
.2 miles - 0:2:07 (11:25 pace)

The predictors for my half marathon time, based on today's 1:18:35 10K finish, say that I should be able to finish the half marathon in 2:55:00, provided the temps are comparable and all other things are equal. Of course, anything can go wrong or right in any race so the 2:55:00 really serves no purpose to me other than the encouragement that it may be possible to break 3 hours. Funny thing, base on last weekend's, 10 mile race, the same predictor said I would run today's 10K in 1:25:19 and I blew that out of the water. What a difference no rain and 25 degrees makes. Overall, I'm please with my first 10K time. Look out, TXU Energy Turkey Trot 10K, I'm coming to get ya.

God Bless!!!

Friday, October 20, 2006

This is our time!!!

Runners, this is our time!!! Woohoo!!! I felt frisky this morning, sportin' my new USA 10-miler shirt and turning in 3 very easy miles at 13:20 avg. pace. What a difference a couple of days and 30 degrees make. Did I say WOOHOO!!!!! I think I did. Sorry.

Here are the stats:
Total distance - 3 miles (easy)
Total time - 40:00 even
Mile 1 - 13:30
Mile 2 - 13:24
Mile 3 - 13:05
Average pace - 13:20
Temperature - 54.2
Humidity - 78.6

I can't wait to hear all the good reports today. By the way, look here in the coming days for an important announcement. Well, important to me!

God Bless!!!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Wish it was 5 miles tomorrow or I'm positive!

Well, I would gladly trade today's 5 miles with tomorrow's 3. Even better would have been skipping today altogether and moving everyghing to Thursday and Friday. This morning's run reminded me so much of my first attempt at 12 miles back on October 1st. I started out too fast and the weather, especially the humidity, started to really press down on me. The only difference this morning was that my legs really felt pretty well. I think this morning's crash, after 3 miles was more mental and digestive than anything to do with the distance or my energy.

I've written this paragraph 4 times now, trying to put down on this blog WHAT WENT WRONG!!!. But you know what? I can't think of anything valid. I just did not have the mental fortitude to finish strong. I've been running pretty well lately and did not take into account the high temps this morning and the opressive humidity. I got nauseated and just fell apart mentally. I wasn't tough this morning. I wasn't disciplined and did not call on what I should have already learned by now, to slow down and be patient, pace myself, taking into account the weather. No excuse!!!

If it sounds like I'm beating myself up, maybe I am just a little. Just a little. I normally would not but this morning could have gone better with a just a little thought and toughness. I did finish the 5 miles and I did run the last ~.6 pretty strong but still conversational. Miles 1-3 were pretty good. But going into mile 4, I stopped to walk some. I walked again toward the end of mile 4 and again at the beginning of mile 5. Then, I sucked it up and ran the last ~.6 or so pretty well.

Funny thing, when I got back to the car, a gentleman that was parked next to me was stretching after his run. We started talking and turns out his run was almost the exact thing that I had just gone through. He said he had been getting used to running in a bit cooler temps and went out too fast at the beginning of his run. Then nausea set in and he struggled big time to just finish. I felt better after hearing that story.

I should have heeded Matt's admonition when I ran into him at the 0 mile marker. His exact words were, "It's hot!!!" Anyway, great to see Matt who I just met on Sunday at the 10-miler. Cool guy. Also saw Amalia for the second day in a row. Always great to see smiling faces out there when I'm running.

Here are the stats. They speak for themselves:
Total distance - 5.0 miles
Total time - 1:14:12
Mile 1 - 14:14
Mile 2 - 14:11 (so far, so good!)
Mile 3 - 14:21
Mile 4 - 15:59
Mile 5 - 15:25
Average pace - 14:51 (still acceptable for a training run)

Since I'm not running on Saturday because of the Bear Creek 10K on Sunday, I may rest tomorrow or swim and do Thursday's 3 on Friday morning (in the low 50s). We'll see.

God Bless

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Early, but not early enough

I'm back on schedule this week. After a couple of 10 pm runs last week because of dw being out of town, I've found a new appreciation for taking the time to run in the mornings before work. So, I got up early to make my way over to Memorial Park. It wasn't quite early enough though. I'd like to get to work by around 7:15 and didn't make it in until 8:00. Guess tomorrow I'll try to get out there earlier.

I felt pretty good this morning. It was cool. Humidity was high. Just a little residual soreness from Sunday's 10-mile race, around the quads area. Here are the stats:

Total distance - 3 miles
Total time - 41:10
Mile 1 - 13:51
Mile 2 - 13:43
Mile 3 - 13:35
Average pace - 13:45

By the way, I'm now the proud owner of 2 pairs of running shoes. I got the extra pair so I could start rotating them. It really helped since the shoes I wore Sunday are still recovering from running through the rain. I hope this helps prolong the life of both pairs and keeps them cumfy cushiony for me.

God bless!!

Official Results from USA 10-miler

Just a quick post of the official time from the USA 10-miler, posted on ITR

1st 5 mile - 1:13:48.5 (14:35 pace)
2nd 5 miles - 1:09:59.2 (14:00 pace)
Total time - 2:23:47.7
Chip time - 2:22:57.1

I can definitely beat that!!! ( 2007) :)

I usually don't go back and edit posts after comments have been made but I'm going to.

Regarding the negative split, I'm not really sure it's a good thing. I think it's an indication of my inexperience and frankly that I'm just a great big chicken. This was my first long(er) distance race and I was very concerned about going out too fast and crashing at the end. Personally, I have no idea how to run a longer race like this. Do you try to hold an even pace? Do you run harder at the beginning and then just try to hold on and gut it out and limp across the finish? Do you run till you puke? I have no idea. Race strategy is something I need to learn more about and something I'll gain with more experience. That's why the warmup series leading up to the marathon is going to be so important to me.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Not hammered but done

After Sunday's United Space Alliance 10-miler, a race distance PR for me, I still find myself seeking the elusive perfect race, a race with ideal conditions, and one that will give me some indication that the full marathon in January is probable or even possible in under 6 hours. I had hoped this would be the one and that it would give me a little bit of confidence going into the Koala/Luke's Locker Half Marathon in two weeks, a race with a 2:48 minute time limit, which closes the course completely after 3 hours. Can you tell I'm worried?

On to the good stuff!!! I spent Saturday and Sunday at a beach house in Galveston, fishing with the kids and relaxing. I arrived at UH-Clear Lake to light showers and overcast skies. Whenever I arrive at a race, I get this excited, nervous feeling about me, kind of like when you've waited in line to get on a roller coaster and you're next. I walked over to the tents and started to mingle. Lot's of familiar faces. I was trying to relax a little and clear my mind but unfortunately, laughingly, I cleared all the important stuff out as well. I almost forgot that this is a chip timed race and came reall close to not even going over to get my chip. LOL!!! Then I realized I left my Garmin, searching for satellite signal on top of my truck. I hope the feeling and craziness of race day never goes away. I hope it never becomes mundane to me. This is too much fun!

Of course, On The Run put on a great event. The race was very well organized. The course was very flat and there were a half dozen PR's by Striders and bloggers, including an awesome 1:17:34 by Steve, a speedy 1:30:39 by Jessica, and a brilliant 1:25;13 by Joe C of the Bay Area, just to name a few outstanding performances. First timers, June and Bill delivered stellar performances with 1:55:36 and 1:35:23 respectively. WTG everybody!!!

Unfortunately, my Garmin splits are a mess. For some reason, the 1 mile autolap was WAY early on mile one so I hit the Lap button twice. Then I turned the autolap off but passed the 4 mile marker without hitting the button. I did this two more times so suffice it to say, it's all screwed up. I'm not even going to try to figure it out. When the official times are posted, I'll update with my 5 mile time, recorded by the chip. Beyond that, I'm not sure. On the Garmin thing, most people I talked to showed the distance as 10.07-10.09. That's only about 140 yards. I've been reading a little about the accuracy of GPS and how it can be off. Motion Based does some fancy calculations to try to correct for the shortcomings of GPS but it's just silly for me to worry about all that. No system is perfect other than measuring it with a tape measure but GPS is probably about as good as it gets.

I ran pretty strong the entire race. One issue faced by this first timer is how fast to go, how much to conserve, not wanting to bonk by the end. Well, I guess that's several issues. I wondered most of the race if I should pick up the pace or if by doing so, I wouldn't have enough in the tank to finish. So, steady it was. I held about 14:30 pace. I think a couple of early miles were around 14:15. At mile 7, I picked it up a little and finished with a 13:39 mile 10. Speaking of finishing, my good friends Bill and Jon came out around mile 9 to pace me and give me a bit of a boost into the finish. Appreciate it guys. It really helped me focus for that last mile. Then, coming around the last corner and looking down a little less than a quarter mile, I saw June and Cassie hootin' and hollerin' and got an even bigger boost. The Striders tent was positioned very close to the chute so I received a big welcome and much trash talking there after turning in my chip.

My finishing time was around 2:23:00. Probably the highlight of the race was coming across the bridge by Clear Lake and looking out over the water at the wall of rain coming toward me. There was no doubt that it was headed my way. In a way, it was refreshing when the bottom dropped out. It kind of washed the "tired" right off of me. But my shoes got just a little bit heavier and the puddles got deeper and for about a half a mile there, I was running in about 2 inches of running watter, with cars splashing water on me as they drove by. It sounds like a horrible time but frankly, I had a blast. It wasn't like a training run where you can just live to train another day. THIS WAS A RACE!!! So, knowing that, I just embraced the conditions and turned it into a fun time. I actually ran with my eyes closed, only opening them briefly every 5 or 10 seconds to make sure my course was true but trying to protect them from the stinging downpour. FUN!!!

On to the half!!!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Hoppin' in the swamp...NOT!!!

First of all, let me thank everyone for your thoughtful and encouraging comments on the previous post. No disrespect to Mom. I know, as some of you reminded me, that Mom only cares for my well-being. And probably part of her wants to still have control over her little baby boy. And part of the problem stems from the myth that Pony mentioned that running is bad for you. Steeve, you're not hinting that you side with MOM, are you? :) Doug, you're a hoot!!! I'm sure you're speaking from experience about signing photographs sitting in the port-a-potty. LOL!!!

I've been looking forward to Thursday, 13 October 2006 for a couple of weeks now. I penciled it in on Hal's schedule along with several other fun events and races. It says, SMARTie Hop, 3 miles. Since J is out of town this week, I made arrangements for dear Mom and her friend to come over and watch the kids for a couple of hours. It was so nice of them to come out. I got Subway for everybody and prepared to leave.

As I was leaving the house, the skies looked ominous. Still, the nature of Houston thunderstorms is that they can be isolated to just one part of town so I pressed on. That dang storm seemed to be following me. Sure enough, when I arrived at TH park, the lightning and clouds were warning of an impending deluge. I arrived right at 7, about the time the workout was about to start. There was a group of Striders milling around, looking up at the sky, contemplating the situation. The grassy area where we do the stationary portion of the Hop workout was a swamp from rains earlier. The group planned on just trying to get in a few good miles before the bottom dropped out. I certainly had no plans (or ability) to try to keep up with them or to brave the storm. I guess this week's tornado that touched down in my neighborhood was still on my mind and I chickened out.

So, I drove back home, through the storm that I reckon was soon to come down on top of my fellow runners. I was surprised that I wasn't all that disappointed. I guess like just about everything I'm doing, it was a learning experience. I learned that sometimes, it just rains!!! How's that for looking at the bright side? Like Forrest Gump said, "It happens." Btw, here are some memorable quotes from Forrest Gump. They are awesome.

Well, that puts me down a little this week. 3 good miles on Tuesday, 3.9 on Wednesday (not 5 as planned), and missed the 3 on Thursday. So much for consistency. Yes, it will be nice to be well-recovered and rested for Sunday's Space City 10-miler but I'm training for the full in January. The 10-miler isn't my target race. I need to be consistent during the week. I'm happy though with Hal's schedule because on any other week, where Jan is home, the schedule is flexible enough to move workouts around a little. For example, I could very easily run 3 today and still have a full day's rest before Sunday's long run (normally scheduled for Saturday, but I can move it to Sunday because Monday is a rest day). Does that make sense? It just has more wiggle room than the Fit schedule. Here's the difference:

Fit schedule - 4 days - M W Th Sat
Higdon Schedule - 4 days - Tu W Th Sat

See how running 3 days in a row Tuesday, Wed, Thurs provides so much more flexibility? Well, at least for my life it does. This is boring and I'm rambling.

Later!! Like Sunday morning!!! I've quit trying to predict the weather for Sunday morning

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Not ideal conditions

The plan. Get the kids to bed. Run 5 miles around the block after they're all asleep, around 9:30. Unfortunately, the plan should have included a nap before, better meal planning through the day, yada, yada. I just felt a wee bit in a funk tonight. But, this is marathon training and if you can't run with a little funk now, you're sure not going to make the whole 26.2. So, off I went.

I basically carve out a 1.7 mile loop around several blocks. I felt pretty good. It was cool out. I would have finished strong but I started to feel a little twinge in my left heel. This isn't the "bad" foot so no worries. Rather than mess around, I stopped pretty quickly at 3.92 miles and just walked the little bit back to the house. I'm absolutely sure it's nothing. I figure if I wake up in the morning and have a new pain, I need to pay attention. If all is well, I overreacted. We'll see in the morning.

Here are the stats:
Total distance - 3.92 miles
Total time - 57:29
Mile 1 - 14:40
Mile 2 - 14:43
Mile 3 - 14:56
da change - 13:08 (14:18 pace)
Average pace - 14:40

By the way I get this e-mail from my mom tonight when I get back from my run. It said "You better watch it and if I were you after the Oct. 29th race, I would stop racing (you can still run) and concentrate on the children's activities. You just can't do both." Where in the world did that come from? Oh, and what's the difference between racing and "still running"? The fact is that she doesn't want me to do a marathon and she basically doesn't want me to run. Oh, here was my reply. "What are you talking about? I haven't missed one single football game of Dalton's. Jan and I split the soccer practices while the other fixes dinner. My running does not in any way interfere with the kid's activities. If you can point out where it has, I'm very open to listening. I ususally run before any of my children or wife even get out of bed. Also, you may have misunderstood. I mean it's been a little busy THIS WEEK while Jan is taking a break. [Jan's on a cruise with a girlfriend of hers] I can't get to work until after 9am because Ben's and Steph's bus doesn't leave until around 8:15. Monday, I took an earned vacation day with the approval of my manager. Tuesday, I had to leave around 3:45 to make it to Dalton's football game. And today, I had to leave around 4:20 to make it home to get Ben dressed for soccer practice. Running has nothing to do with my extra time off this week. I know I keep saying this and I don't mean to sound harsh but if I'm dead, I'm sure not going to do my kids any good and I certainly won't get my work done then." That was kind of harsh but I'm tired of it. I'm not doing this for selfish reasons. Does it make me feel good. Am I proud of my accomplishments? Yes, of course but I want to live long and enjoy an active lifestyle and teach my kids the same. I'd much rather get the cable hooked back up and order some pizza and veg out. But I'd be dead in 10 maybe 20 years, or sooner. Arrrrgggh!!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

No, Daddy, I'm tired!!!

A unique thought occurred to me when I got home today from my 13 y/o's football game. The plan was to wait until the 5 y/o went to bed and then sneak out for my 3 miler, staying on the block, probably just running back and forth a block in each direction. But I thought, hey, I'm a runner. I can run around Fairfield. How about if the 5 y/o goes with me and rides his bike? So, that's what we did.

It was a lot of fun (at first). I was running easy. The kiddo was riding easy, both of us just enjoying the evening. After about 1.75 miles, ADD set in and the kid started to get bored. He kept telling me, "I'm tired, Daddy." Of course, not having run in a couple of days and fully recovered from Saturday's 12 miler, I was the Energizer Bunny out there. About the time I got a good groove going..."My feet hurt, Daddy. Let's go home." I couldn't make him understand that we were near the end and a lot nearer to home than if we turned around and went back. Of couse, by the time we got home, he was fine and now upset with me at all. Despite the whining, I think he had a good time.

Total distance - 3.18
Mile 1 - 14:23
Mile 2 - 14:00
Mile 3 - 13:46
da change 2:23 (13:11 pace)
Average pace - 14:01
Temp - 72 degrees
Humidity - 96% (Whew!)

I really felt like I was in that run forever pace. Of course, I've never EVER run a longer distance at that pace but I felt really awesome. Looking forward to the Clear Lake

Cross-training in the garden

It wasn't my intention but a few hours weeding and mulching the front flower beds have resulted in some major soreness. My hammies are sore and tight. Guess the bending over. Man, as much as my fitness has improved, overall, I'm so out of shape. Must do some weight training!!

Missed my run this morning so will have to run late, like after 9 p.m. when I put the little one to bed. 3 miles. I'll post how it goes later.

The forecast for Clear Lake has deteriorated a bit from the sun and low 60's predicted late last week. Looks like showers and 70's for temps. We'll see. Should be fun.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Congratulations Runners!!!

I say congratulations because I know that everyone must have had a great run this morning. The weather was just fabulous and was my first taste of cooler temps since I started running (again). It sure makes all the difference in the world and gives me hope that as things continue to cool down, I will be able to complete the marathon.

There are some good words from a couple of good coaches regarding Thursday's mile time trial in the post below so go check it out.

Hal's schedule today called for 9 miles. Actually, now that I remember correctly, it's Katy Fit's schedule that called for 9 miles today. I just plugged it into Hal's schedule since I had already progressed further on my long runs. However, since last weekend's 12 miler was such a bonkin' bust, I decided to have another go at the distance today. Jo ran the first 9 with me. We had a great time enjoying the weather and Cullen park. My plan was to finish up 9 with Jo and then tack on 3 more at the end to make up the 12. Here are the stats:

Total time - 2:58:11
Total distance - 12 miles
Mile 1 - 15:29
Mile 2 - 15:30
Mile 3 - 15:16
Mile 4 - 15:32
Mile 5 - 15:18
Mile 6 - 15:10
Mile 7 - 15:14
Mile 8 - 15:20
Mile 9 - 14:54
Mile 10 - 13:45
Mile 11 - 13:39
Mile 12 - 12:58
Average pace - 14:51 mpm
Average temp - 63.8 degrees
Average humidity - 77.7%

By now, one may be wondering what in the world happened at Mile 10, after I dropped Jo off at the parking lot. Was it all downhill? Were hurricane force winds at my back? Was I chasing Miss America? No. No. and NO!!! I had the "opportunity" to stop off for a bathroom break. After that, a couple of my Luke's/Koala Half registrants wanted to combine their registrations and form a team for the relay so I had the forms in the car and walked over to make the corrections. Between the restroom and taking care of the registration, I had about a 4 or 5 minute break, not reflected in my splits, of course. This kind of bothered me as I wanted to just take off after the bathroom break but I needed to take care of this for my fellow Fitizens. After that rest, the cool weather just got to me and I was alone. I took off down the paths behind the parking lot. The paths come out at the bridge and cross over along the big field there. The whole loop is about 1 mile. I was really feeling my oats and thrilled with everything, the pain-free ankle, the weather, the 10-mile race coming up next week, the Bear Creek 10K, the Half, the full, the kids, the wife, and just life in general. I looked down at my Garmin and my pace had gotten down around 14:00 so I said, well, I'll just try to pick it up a little more and see if I can run these 3 miles around 13:45 (that's my goal marathon pace if I'm allowed to have one). Well, you see the results. 40:22 for 3 miles and at the end of a 9 mile long run to boot. Gotta be pleased with that. It was a huge confidence booster. Seem to be having a lot of those lately. Good!!! I need 'em.

Lastly, I wanted to post my HR splits. I must admit I was very, very pleased to see the easy effort I was able to maintain through 9 and then the moderate effort over the last 3.

MaxHR - 182 bpm
Resting HR, week of 10/01/06 - 62 bpm Mile 1 - 135 bpm (61% HRr)
Mile 2 - 139 bpm (65% HRr)
Mile 3 - 141 bpm (66% HRr)
Mile 4 - 139 bpm (65% HRr)
Mile 5 - 139 bpm (65% HRr)
Mile 6 - 140 bpm (66% HRr)
Mile 7 - 142 bpm (67% HRr)
Mile 8 - 143 bpm (68% HRr)
Mile 9 - 146 bpm (71% HRr)
Mile 10 - 142 bpm (67% HRr) [after the 4 or 5 minute rest]
Mile 11 - 157 bpm (80% HRr)
Mile 12 - 159 bpm (82% HRr)

God Bless!!!

Friday, October 06, 2006

11:07 mile. So what?

Someone on the Runners World forums asked me today what the 11:07 mile time trial means to my training. I really have no idea.

I couldn't help but plug the mile time into McMillan's running calculator at work today to see what came out. Here are some interesting predictions based on the 11:07 mile.

Equivalent performance:
5K - 38:31
10K - 1:20:00
10 mile - 2:14:03
Half marathon - 2:58:01
Marathon - 6:15:26

(Do keep in mind that a 5K runner is unlikely to run the equivalent time in the marathon off of 5K training. The runner would obviously need to train for the marathon to accomplish this equivalent time.)

I know I'm overanalyzing but I can't help but know that weather would play a HUGE part in these predictions. Since my 11:07 mile trial was executed in 90 degree temps, it may be safe to say that these times would be even better given better conditions. Still, I think for the conditions that I ran in, I was about as on my game as I could have been for that run. Good nutrition. Good sleep. Good hydration. New shoes. Squishy running track. Definitely optimal conditions except for the temperature.

I think that the training paces that McMillan provides are valuable and I am going to start using them to program my Garmin. Here is a sample of the training paces McMillan suggests:

Long runs - (14:51-15:51) (this happens to be the pace that I do my long runs at)
Tempo runs - (13:02 - 13:36)
Recovery jog - (15:51 - 16:21)
100m intervals - (35.7 - 39.3)
400m intervals - (2:37.2 - 2:49.1)
and so on...

Anyway, I'm don't want to go to being too scientific or rigid as I am enjoying just running and trying to feel it, but I think it's good to learn these paces and how they feel and what various workouts feel like.

So, for the 10-miler, I think this gives me a good idea of what I MAY expect from my performance. I was leaning more toward slogging in at 2:30 as a goal but McMillan predicts a 2:14:03. Runner's World predicts a 2:07:38. Yeah, right!!! Running Times calculator predicts 2:11:46. I think I'll be happy with anything between 2:14:00 and 2:25:00. That's 13:24 - 14:30 pace, certainly faster than any training run to date at that distance.

Well, this is of course just rambling. I have a lot to learn and very little race experience. I am just looking forward to running, racing, losing more weight, and continuting to have a blast!!!


Last night, the Striders/SMARTies were doing 1 mile time trials at Stratford High School so I thought I'd go out and "give it a whirl." Hal's schedule called for 3 miles. Perfect! One mile warm-up, one mile ALL-OUT, one mile cool-down.

I thought most of the day on a goal for the mile trial. This was the first time I've every run 1 mile as fast as I could so I really had no reference from which to set a goal. The only race I've run recently was the Fired Up 5K so I plugged my time (40:51) into the McMillan Running Calculator that I first came across on Bill's site. The predictor said I should be able to run a mile in 11:47, based on my 5K time. Yikes!!! When I arrived at Stratford, Steve asked me what I thought I was able to do. I told him what McMillan said and he said, ok, then you can shoot for 3 minutes for each of the first 3 laps and then kick it in on the last lap and see what you've got left at the end. So, I was shooting for around 12 minutes.

Steve had the clock set up at the start so we could see our time for each lap in big red numbers. That was cool. I did a mile warmup in comfortable fashion and then walked around for a bit waiting for my turn. Just before starting, I did a couple of 50 yard strides and was ready. Steve said Go so I went!

The very cool thing was that by the time I got around to the opposite side of the track (after 200m) There was Steve shouting out, giving me my 200m time. I also had my Garmin so the feedback was way more than adequate. Steve continued cutting accross the field every 200m to keep me going and make sure I knew where I was and how I was supposed to be feeling.

Another VERY COOL thing was that Jim and Rosa paced me the last 3 laps. They were such a big encouragement and pulled me along pretty hard. I must admit I was sucking wind just about the entire mile. As Steve said, the 3rd lap was hardest. I'm sure I slowed down a bit from the first 2. Next time, I'm going to keep my 1/4 mile splits. This time, I couldn't even think about reaching down to press that little lap button on the Garmin. The fourth and final lap is kind of hard to remember. I do remember Steve stepping in to run the last lap with me. As I came aroun the last lap, I think our pack picked some more encouragers. Jim and Rosa continued by my side and Steve was just in front of me. I don't know why or how but I said a few words (probably trying to be funny) but Steve said, Shut up and run!!! I picked it up a little, or at least it felt like I did, going into the last 200m. I was hurting. My chest felt like it was about to explode. About the time I was straightening out of the curve for the last 100, behind the encouragment of what seemed like a stadium full of cheering fans but was actually the awesome 5-10 (I don't know how many) pacers/encouragers we had picked up along the way, I somehow found a little extra from somewhere inside. I honestly don't know where it came from. Heck, I don't even know if I was going faster or if I was simply putting forth that much more effort to just maintain my pace. I don't know if Steve was slowing down but I started to gain on Steve's even pace. I think Steve was just trying to get me in without killing myself but I think he was as surprised as I was that I had a little (very little) kick at the end.

When it was over, I continued to hear all those voices, the crowd of well-wishers sending me congratualtions. The faithful 10 or 15 Striders who were there were such an encouragement to me. I couldn't catch my breath. I remember my baskeball coach from high school would never let us bend over and put our hands on our knees but when Steve told me to do just that, I was all to glad to oblige. After a few seconds, things began to come back into focus. LOL!!! I regained conciousness and remembered where I was. My time: 11:07!!! I never could have done that on my own. Thanks to the Striders who never make me feel as slow and big as I am. I am truly blessed to be part of such a class group. I dont' want to be melodramatic but the Striders are the best. They have meant so much to me over these past 2 years. Never once have I gotten anything but encouragement and camaraderie from this group. It is truly a unique organization.

Total distance - 3 miles
Warm-up mile - 14:45
Mile time trial - 11:07 (first time and PR!!)
Cool-down mile - 15:15

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Quit thinking about running while I'm running!!

Real good run this morning. 4 easy miles on the schedule. Oh, that brings me to something I've been meaning to post. I switched over to Hal Higdon't novice full marathon training program. There are a couple of reasons why I switched. The primary reason is that it provides a little more flexibility on the weekend long run. Because weekday runs are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, I can do my long run on either Saturday or Sunday and it doesn't screw up my week. Also, all the miles in this program are at easy pace. I plan to sprinkle in some quality runs once a week or once every two weeks. Plus I have the HARRA warmup series and Strider warmup series races so I have some variety built in there. Higdon's novice program has a mid-week mini-long run on Wednesdays. Anyway, you can follow the link if you want to see. I do plan on doing some long runs with the Katy Fit group when I can.

So, the run this morning was fun. I thought a lot less about my running while I was running this morning. I tried to just relax a little bit. I'm usually thinking about my stride or my foot/ankle or my pace or the splits... I usually run pretty tense. This morning, about 1.5 miles into the run, I just relaxed and thought about other things and ran.

Despite the pace as shown below, I really was comforatably conversational for all 4 miles. My pace was just up a bit. Can't explain that. Oh, and I strapped on the HRM for the first time in a long time just for informational purposes.

Total distance - 4.0 miles
Time - 56:33
Mile 1 - 14:38 (137 bpm)
Mile 2 - 14:29 (147 bpm)
Mile 3 - 13:55 (152 bpm)
Mile 4 - 13:29 (157 bpm)
Average pace - 14:09
Average HR - 148 (71% HRr)

I saw Lisa F. this morning but for the second time just walked on by, well, ran on by. Hope to have one more chance one day. I really miss her around here. Lisa, if you're out there, miss you!!! You rock!!!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Brain-dead in the wee hours

Made my way to Memorial this morning for my scheduled 3 miles. I guess all the synapses were not firing completely as I forgot to bring my work clothes with me. So, after the run, I had to drive all the way back out to Cypress to shower and change. I was so thrilled to not have to fight traffic this morning. Plus I got done early enough, I was going to get into work a little early which was good because I'm leaving early for a massage appointment. At the trunk, after the my run, I hear my cell phone and it's DW calling to tell me that my clothes were still haning on the chair. CRUD!!!

Had a good run. I was still a little sore from the weekend but the 3 seemed to loosen me up and I actually feel better after the run than I did before. Stats:

Total distance - 3 miles
Total time - 43:58
Mile 1 - 14:47
Mile 2 - 14:42
Mile 3 - 14:28

103 days to Houston!!!

Price of gas down but the cost of living just went up

Well, I paid $1.94 this morning for regular unleaded with my .10 Kroger discount. That's good. But the cost of living just went up dramatically today. Starbuck's raised the price of a venti coffee to $2.00. I don't know why $1.95 was ok with me but $2.00 sticks in my craw big time. I'm going to have to get a part-time job, I guess.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Blogging for granted

"A blog is a personal diary. A daily pulpit. A collaborative space. A political soapbox. A breaking-news outlet. A collection of links. Your own private thoughts. Memos to the world.

Your blog is whatever you want it to be. There are millions of them, in all shapes and sizes, and there are no real rules.

In simple terms, a blog is a web site, where you write stuff on an ongoing basis. New stuff shows up at the top, so your visitors can read what's new. Then they comment on it or link to it or email you. Or not."

A blog is whatever you want it to be. Mmmmm... Whatever I want it to be. I would have to ponder that for a while before I could put down in words what I want my blog to be. However, I don't have to think long about what the others' blogs ant the blogging community have meant to me.

To me, the central theme of life is relationships. My spiritual life is about a relationship with Christ. At the core of my social life is my relationship with my wife and my children. There are relationships at work with my peers as well as those above me. Business relationships, neighbors, close friends, casual acquaintances, family. Life is all about relationships. For me, even though my running and my physical fitness is much about a personal, inner struggle and quest, it's more so about relationships. I really believe that through a healthy lifestyle, I can be a better friend, a better husband, a better father, a better employee, and a better follower of Christ.

So, what do I want my blog to be? I want it to be a vehicle for developing relationships, creating new ones and so far, mission accomplished. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful group of friends that I have met and gotten to know through blogging. Thank you for sharing your lives with me, your struggles, your victories, and sometimes what may be Too Much Information. :o)

I know that blogging opens up parts of our lives to the world (literally). Also, blogging can become mundane. It opens us up to ridicule, critisism, flaming. But it also helps build relationships. We get to know each other. We get to encourage each other. I get advice from some pretty awesome runners. I learn from others' victories and from their defeats. By the very vulnerability that opens us up to critisism, we gain so much more in the building of relationships with friends.

So, thank you friends for not taking blogging for granted. Thank you for sharing your lives with me and with the world. Thanks you for opening up your lives to me and the world to see. Thanks for letting me get to know you. I truly count you as my friends.

God bless!!!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

12.89 and Bonk!!!

Not a very good job pacing this morning. Mr. Consistency stayed home. I was very pumped up after last night's frivolity at the Cross Country relay and thrilled that my ankle not only survived but felt pretty good. My splits were all over the map. See...

Mile 1 - 14:49
Mile 2 - 15:19
Mile 3 - 15:17
Mile 4 - 15:00
Mile 5 - 15:14
Mile 6 - 14:22
Mile 7 - 15:09
Mile 8 - 14:31
Mile 9 - 16:47
- here's where the walking started, and we had about a 1:15 stop to refill the water bottles.
Mile 10 - 17:56 - Get up and go got up and went.
Mile 11 - 18:54 - Walked most of this mile.
Mile 12 - 18:59 - Same story a mile 11.
.89 - Due to poor navigation and one wrong turn, we ended up .89 miles from our intended finish near the tennis center.

So, actually, through 8 miles, I was pretty good. Sub-15 mpm average and ended up finishing 8 in 1:59:44. Given the humidity and the temps, though, this "speedy" 8 probably did me in for the next 4. Still, tack on my 2 miles at the XC and that's 10 miles at sub-15 average in some pretty wicked conditions temperature and humidity-wise.

Am I disappointed? Just a little. Did I learn something? Yes, I think so. If I had these 12 to do all over again, knowing that the weather was going to be pretty heavy, I would have started out a little slower. Maybe started out 15:30-15:45 and then just try to finish stronger. Even though I felt pretty good this morning, I still think the cross county took a little out of me. Most importantly, I feel like I really stressed the system this morning and look forward to some good recovery tonight and tomorrow.

I'm pretty tired or I'd go on more. Thanks Jo for sticking with me this morning. I'm really glad I had someone to run with. June, Cassie, Jon, Edwin, great to see you all. I treasure our friendships and love seeing you out there on a run. It really helps me.

God Bless!!!