Archive for February, 2010

Austin Marathon 2/14/2010

February 25, 2010

After running the Austin Marathon five times in a row between 2000 and 2004, I skipped it five times in a row between 2005 and 2009.  I decided to run it again in 2010 (though I’m not yet prepared to declare this the start of a new streak).

I was really looking forward to Austin.  The course would be familiar, having run portions of it a half-dozen times in training.  No travelling to get there.  Getting to sleep in my own bed.  The annual pre-marathon party at the house the Friday before.  Kel and Bailey being on the course at several spots (I think they made 4 or 5 stops).  No large cash outlay to get there/drive around/sleep.

Everything seemed to be shaping up nicely for race day.  Training went well, I got a good night’s sleep the two nights before the race, I was eating right, and even managed to drop a few lbs in the four weeks between Houston and Austin.  The weather was even being somewhat cooperative (decent temps…still high humidity).

I met Sandy, TJ, and Al on race morning and we hung out for 30 minutes or so prior to the start before heading to our respective corrals.  I seeded myself slightly ahead of the 3:40 pace group (led by my friend Jen who nailed the time perfectly).  I figured I would see them again at some point and asked Jen to give me a hard kick in the ass if/when that occurred.

The noiseless pyrotechnics went off and the masses headed south down Congress (and by “down” I mean up).  I’ve discovered a cool thing about excel and splits so I’m going to do something a little different.  Beside the split for each mile I’m going to put (in parentheses) my average pace for the race.  This is kinda cool because it illustrates, for me at least, why going out fast is so tempting.  I had on my wrist a 3:40 pace band which calls for an even pace of 8:23 per mile.

Mile 1 = 8:22 (8:22) – good pacing
Mile 2 = 8:19 (8:20) – going carelessly uphill
Mile 3 = 8:11 (8:17) – last of the initial climb
Mile 4 = 8:08 (8:15) – let the downhill begin
Mile 5 = 7:44 (8:08) – effortless
Mile 6 = 7:51 (8:05) – passed the Governor
Mile 7 = 8:06 (8:05) – received water and manpill from Jimi
Mile 8 = 8:02 (8:05) – heading past the rock
Mile 9 = 8:25 (8:07) – working the uphill on Veterans
Mile 10 = 8:26 (8:09) – running into the sun on Enfield
Mile 11 = 8:30 (8:11) – taking on the Expo rollers
Mile 12 = 8:42 (8:13) – ran w/ Aaron for a while
Mile 13 = 8:39 (8:15) – gets really flat through here
Half = 1:48:35 – probably going to regret this
Mile 14 = 8:39 (8:17) – hello POJ
Mile 15 = 9:03 (8:20) – that was a fake 9, had to stop for a sec
Mile 16 = 8:49 (8:22) – back on track, 3:40 group passed me
Mile 17 = 8:45 (8:23) – Great Northern is a long, straight street
Mile 18 = 9:04 (8:25) – that was a real 9
Mile 19 = 9:03 (8:27) – giving up on 3:40
Mile 20 = 9:00 (8:29) – hello Raul, LA, Jack, Jeanne
Mile 21 = 9:17 (8:31) – trying to keep it together
Mile 22 = 9:29 (8:34) – Alan rides along with me for a while
Mile 23 = 9:32 (8:36) – giving up on 3:45
Mile 24 = 9:45 (8:39) – c/m passes me
Mile 25 = 9:30 (8:41) – hello Dyana, Hillary, and Kirk
Mile 26 = 10:20 (8:45) – Sontag runs out of the crowd
Mile .2 = 1:45 (8:46) – thank you finish line

3:49:42…my second best marathon time ever.  On that course, on that day…I’ll take it.

This race also marked the completion of Marathons of Texas (Dallas, Houston, and Austin back-to-back) and earned me some extra bling.

We convened at County Line on the Lake for lunch around 1:30.  That place is so freaking good it’s absurd.  When I eat there I want to go home and destroy my pit with a sledgehammer.  Seriously, I couldn’t get any further from worthy.  I stuffed my gut, washed it all down with a couple of Shiners, and headed back to the house for a nap.

I honored my pledge to go “old school” at Austin and left the Garmin at home…opting for the Timex with a pace band.  I liked it.  I’ll continue to train with the Garmin and race with the Timex for the foreseeable future.

I’ve discovered a new wrinkle on the old pace band theme from a company called pacetat.  They’re basically temporary tattoos that you put on your forearm (or wherever) as opposed to the old wrap around pace bands (you know, the ones you see littered all over the race course around mile 21 as people start to realize that their goals were a little lofty).  I look forward to breaking one out at a race soon.  Poconos?

Next up is Cowtown on 2/27/2010.  It should be a good race…though I’ve never done marathons this close together.  Four weeks seems ok, two weeks is a little tight.  I’m leaning towards going for a 3:45 at even pace (8:34).

Chevron Houston Marathon 1/17/2010

February 11, 2010

We moved to Austin in 1999.  After being here for 11 years, Austin feels like my hometown.  So much so that when people ask me where I’m from…I say Austin without hesitation.  I was, however, born in Houston.  It is strange driving into a town where I have so much history yet feeling no different than arriving into any other “out-of-town” destination to run a race.  Very strange.

On Saturday, we arrived at the Simpon’s house where we would be staying for the weekend.  The Monday following the race was MLK Day.  I didn’t have to work and there was no school (so we’d be able to spend two nights). We spent the afternoon visiting the expo for packet pick-up and attempting to drive the course.  Kel wanted to try and see me a few times during the race so we plotted a few points and crossed our fingers that she would be able to navigate to them on race day.

We got back to the Simpson’s that evening and were greeted by an excellent dinner of grilled chicken breast and spaghetti!  Mr. Clint worked magic on the grill!  The chicken was moist and delicious.  Mrs. Sharon handled the spaghetti and it was out of this world!  I washed it all down with a single Coors Light and hit the sack in anticipation of an early wake up.

On the way into downtown, my little brother (who was already at the start getting ready to run his first marathon) called to let us know that the traffic at the closest exit was gnarled and told us where to exit and how to get through downtown to avoid it.  It worked out perfectly and Kel was able to drop me at the Hilton to meet Al, Sandy, POJ, TJ, C/M, Allegra, Ryan, Daniel, and Sontag about 45 minutes before the start (I know Paul Williams wouldn’t approve but it was more than enough time for the rest of us).

There is a running axiom which dictates that you don’t “try out” new gear on race day.  You should always try it out on a long run first.  The reason is simple…shoes/socks can cause blisters and shirts/shorts can rub or chafe.  I was concerned that I wouldn’t see Kel at our prescribed points along the race where she would be handing me my “crack” (crack = Enervitene).  I thought the answer to that was shorts with pockets along the back to tote the crack myself.  I found a pair and did one or two short runs in them to make sure they fit well and moved with me and, satisfied that they would, wore them for this race.  Mistake.  I never actually put the three packets of crack in the pockets during my short test runs.  Immediately upon exiting the hotel I knew it wasn’t going to work.  The shorts were falling down and I hadn’t even broken into a slow jog.  Wanting to be optimistic…I ran a little and, sure enough, my pants hit the ground.  Gold in my mouth, hat turned sideways, going downtown with my pants on the ground. 

I ended up having to carry my “crack” in order to keep from exposing my crack.

I wouldn’t discover the bigger mistake until after the race and suffice it to say it was horribly unthinkable…and it took 10 days to properly heal.

Winding through downtown looking for our starting corral was interesting.  We finally stumbled upon it (accidentally I’m sure) and did some last minute stretching.  I looked over near the corral fence and spotted my offensive line coach from college, Coach Amick!  I’ve run into him a few times over the years at different races in Austin but it had been a while (probably because I haven’t really raced in Austin in four or five years).  We quickly caught up, I introduced him to the shipmates that were close by, and then the starting gun fired.  I guess it’s time to start running!

Mile 1 = 8:50 (decent pace but very crowded)
Mile 2 = 9:00 (so crowded that I stop to pee)
Mile 3 = 8:24 (TJ passes me)
Mile 4 = 8:12 (starting to sweat…not good)
Mile 5 = 8:18 (running behind a girl who starts to look familiar)
Mile 6 = 8:23 (figure out the girl is Rachel, funny)
Mile 7 = 8:21 (pass TJ and get caught by Sontag)
Mile 8 = 8:27 (Sontag is running the mini, their u-turn coming up)
Mile 9 = 8:35 (see Kel for the first time…nice job, honey)
Mile 10 = 8:38 (always nice to knock out the first 10)
Mile 11 = 8:39 (second 10 underway, feeling ok)
Mile 12 = 8:49 (long shady section with a cool breeze)
Mile 13 = 8:47 (C/M catches me)
Mile 14 = 8:36 (C/M and I sing a journey duet together)
Mile 15 = 8:31 (running with C/M is starting to hurt…bad)
Mile 16 = 8:47 (bye C/M, she’ll hang 12 minutes on me by the end)
Mile 17 = 8:58 (see Kel, my mom, and both of my sister-in-laws)
Mile 18 = 9:14 (cracked 9 at the same point as Whiterock)
Mile 19 = 9:25 (saw Sprouts and Kirk somewhere around here)
Mile 20 = 9:30 (somebody find me a finish line)
Mile 21 = 9:28 (energized by being caught by the 3:50 pace group)
Mile 22 = 9:48 (bonus visit by Kel, lost the 3:50 pace group)
Mile 23 = 9:47 (ship cheering section; Art, Sprouts, Hills, Kirk)
Mile 24 = 9:52 (think I might be able to hold ’em under 10)
Mile 25 = 10:10 (think wrong, same spot as Whiterock again)
Mile 26 = 9:45 (again with the fear of getting caught by Sandy)
Mile .2 = 3:24 (sweet relief)

Total Time = 3:56:48

A little slower than Dallas but I’ll take it!

The “runner’s only” finish area inside the George R. Brown Convention Center was nice.  I made my way to the water and then found a banana.  I recall reading about the hot breakfast on marathonguide.com and thinking about how good that sounded (on paper).  When I went through the area where they were serving it I almost hurled.  There were many people enjoying it, though, so I hurried through so as not to spoil their breakfast.

I grabbed my finisher’s shirt (nice Under Armour) and mug (a little small for beer but it’s cool) and started looking for the rest of the ship.  The more I looked around the worse I felt.  I quickly turned my attention to finding Kel and made a mad dash for the exit.  I napped a little in the car and was feeling better by time we got back to the Simpson’s.  We headed over to Lupe Tortilla where several shipmates had gathered for a late lunch prior to hitting the road back to Austin.  After downing a couple of fajitas and Shiners…things were starting to look up!

The Austin Marathon is next…followed by Cowtown two weeks later.  I’m really hoping for good weather at one or both.  My marathon PR is now six years old and I’d really like to give it the updating it deserves.  I’ve decided to lose the Garmin and go with the regular watch and a pace band at Austin.  Old school.