race recap

Trail Running & Brazos Bend 100

14884596_10154488233718564_6498371586880915198_oI’ve been running a lot of trails lately. Near our house are several miles of wooded trails that run through the flood zone of a creek. I’ve always been a little afraid to wonder out into the woods alone to run them but this past summer I stumbled upon a group who runs them regularly and now I am getting my fill of saunters through the woods. I love the trails. I love being outside, I love jumping over logs and roots and the endless switchbacks. The trails are great for running, maybe not so good for ankle sprains, but if you’re careful the uneven footing of the trails and the necessary hopping and skipping do wonders for building your foot, calf and ankle muscles as well as offering multiple opportunities to practice stability and balance.

Trail runners are a different breed. Not only are we all just a little more crazy than road runners, there’s something about the snakes, bugs and constant threat of falling that makes the running friendship a little stronger, a little more intimate. When you run on the road, you come home sweaty. When you run the trails you come home, sweaty, dirty and possibly bloody. It’s much more fun. Though I have only known them for a few months, my trail friends have quickly become my family.

Thanks to their encouragement, I ran my first trail race on Saturday! With just 7 weeks notice I decided that Brazos Bend 100 – the full marathon distance – would be my trail debut. I didn’t do much training specific to this race. Since I was focused on training for Shiner, I didn’t do traditional mileage building. I threw in an 18 and 20 mile run (18 on the road and 20 on the trails) and that was about it.

I didn’t have a plan for the race. I figured I’d see what pace felt comfortable and go with it. Just a couple of miles in I settled at around an 8:05. It was cold outside (low 40s and breezy), my heart rate was low, it felt sustainable. The trails were flat and fast. Obviously trails aren’t going to be as fast as a road but they were mostly crushed gravel access roads and well worn paths with few roots and almost no elevation change.

20161210_071536Mile 1 – 8:23
Mile 2 – 7:55
Mile 3 – 8:04
Mile 4 – 8:06

At mile 4, I ate my first Gu which I immediately regretted. It felt like someone had taken a chainsaw to my stomach.

Mile 5 – 8:03
Mile 6 – 8:04
Mile 7 – 8:02
Mile 8 – 8:03

Hoping the issues with the first Gu had passed, I took my second Gu and could barely keep it down. It took a mile to eat the whole thing and once it was gone I decided I wasn’t eating any more. Ever.

Mile 9 – 8:07
Mile 10 – 7:57
Mile 11 – 7:45
Mile 12 – 8:04
Mile 13 – 8:28
Mile 14 – 8:08
Mile 15 – 8:09
Mile 16 – 8:16
Mile 17 –  8:34

The lack of quality training runs and the trails caught up to me. At Mile 18, I could feel the stabilizing muscles in my hips start to get weak – I had to slow down because I was worried I’d catch my foot on one of the large rocks in the trail and my hips wouldn’t have the strength to keep me from falling over.

It was also around this time that I accidentally ran into a family friend. At the mile 17 aid station a tall Scandinavian man who looked incredibly familiar started running beside me. As we ran he began asking me very specific questions, almost like he knew me. I was a little confused, how could this mystery Scandinavian know me so well? After a half mile of listening to his thick accent, I realized knew him! It was Andreas, my sister-in-law’s, brother’s, wife’s, twin sister’s, husband! Did you follow that? I have only met him a handful of times thus me not immediately recognizing him. I knew he was a marathoner but I had no idea he was running BB100. It’s a small world!

He was facing similar discomfort due to an IT band problem and we ran on and off together for the remainder of the race.

Mile 18 – 8:28
Mile 19 – 8:50
Mile 20 – 9:58

Around the magical mile 20, the lack of adequate fuel and my poor tired hips collided. The one-two punch slowed my pace to what felt like a crawl. My glute minimus and medius were burning like they’d been set on fire and I had no energy at all. I had a moment where I was seriously considering burning all my running shoes and finding a different hobby.

From that point forward, I decided to begin a walk/run strategy – run until the lap beep went off on my Garmin then walk until I felt I could run again. The walking interval started at 2 minutes and went up to 4 minutes and the run intervals were at about a 9:30 pace. Though I could have run straight through I’m not sure it would have been much faster and the run/walk strategy helped in the motivation department significantly.

Mile 21 – 11:13
Mile 22 – 8:45

Andreas and I stopped at the aid station at mile 22 and I saw a friend who was volunteering. She picked me back up emotionally, told me I looked strong and that it was almost over. I ate 1/4 of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, sucked it up and we went back out onto the course. Andreas pushed me to run to the next aid station without walking and though he left me he told me he would meet me there.

Mile 23 – 11:10
Mile 24 – 11:23

At the last aid station I drank a shot of Coke and it was like nectar from God. The most wonderfully delicious thing I’ve ever put in my mouth. Ever. And another 1/4 PB&J.

Mile 25 – 11:04

Andreas informed me his IT band tightness was going away and I told him to leave me. I didn’t want to hold him back.

Mile 26 – 11:03

This is where a marathon should stop. This one kept going. Recent rains flooded the trails in the back of the park and race organizers had to change the course at the last minute so this particular race was almost 28 miles (27.79 according to my Garmin). I was joking to friends about this change in the days before the race but those last two miles were no joke. They were the tipping point from the race being pleasantly uncomfortable to downright painful.

Mile 27 – 12:04
Mile 28 – 9:02

20161210_131615As I was finishing I saw Andreas giving me the thumbs up, I returned the gesture as I passed and went through the finish chute.

Official time was 4:10.04 – which if it had been an actual marathon of the 26.2 variety would have been a 3:49. It’s a good time considering the conditions, and the lack of training. It was also my personal distance record, the furthest I’ve ever run. I am happy with that.

After the race was over, I looked for Andreas but I lost him in the crowd. I walked out to the car, changed clothes, ate some tacos and drank my first Coke in almost two years. It was easily the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted! Clearly, I needed the sugar. I then sat for an hour and 45 minutes waiting for the rest of my group to cross the finish line.

This was my fifth marathon but the first I’ve done alone. Jason took the kids camping for the weekend instead of coming to the race and since I was the first to finish from our group there was no one was waiting for me at the finish line. There were not no post race hugs, no congratulations. No one to ask me how I felt or to help me over to the car. No one I could complain to about how badly my legs ached. It was a little depressing, I’m not gonna lie. It was a lonely time during which I had plenty of time to think about the race.

Though I am still thrilled with my time (I was wanting a sub-4 hour, 26.2) I am disappointed in how I let myself fall apart the last 7 miles.

I haven’t trained with Gu since March. After The Woodlands Marathon I decided I was going to work on my fat adaption and aerobic development which meant I didn’t need the sugar in Gu. All my runs (including that 18 and 20 miler) have been at an aerobic pace and slow twitch fibers don’t need sugar to operate, they need fat. The shorter, tempo runs I did leading up to Shiner fell solidly into the anaerobic sugar burning category but they were all so short that I didn’t need fuel. Since I was fat adapting I didn’t need all the complex carbs in my diet so I cut almost all of them out. The results have been great. I’ve lost the last little bit of extra fat I was carrying around and the extra protein coupled with strength training has made me stronger than ever. My stomach however was no longer used to the carb bomb in a Gu. It revolted with a vengeance.

In addition, I wasn’t prepared for the trail. Although, I’ve been doing almost all my weekend long runs on trails for almost six months, all of that running has been at a slower pace. Our trails are technical. Rooty, hilly, winding, dirt paths. You can’t run any faster than an 11 minute mile on them or you’ll end up tripping on a treeroot and diving headfirst into a prickly bush.

Thanks to all those long trail runs, my stabilizing muscles were prepared for the total body workout that trail running provides and training for Shiner made my body more than ready to sustain race pace.

Unfortunately, this being my first trail race, I didn’t think about what would happen to my body if those stabilizing muscles had to do the work of the trails and support the extra force that comes with speed. Rookie mistake. I was ready for race pace on the road OR a slow trail run. I wasn’t ready for race pace on the trails.

Every race you learn and adapt. So now I know. I will begin to experiment with UCAN, which I’ve wanted to do anyway, and I need to put some extra time into working more on my hips (something I already knew but have been actively avoiding because it hurts!) and hopefully next time I will be more prepared.

Somehow, amid all this I still managed to win my age group. I have no idea how that happened. I had given up hope of placing when I started run walking at the end of the race so needless to say I was a little surprised when the race results were finally posted.

Overall place: 14; Overall Female: 4; Age Group (F 30-39): 1

Marathons are hard, they never get any easier. No matter how many I run, how good of shape I’m in or how well prepared I may be, I am always going to push myself. I am always going to give the course everything my body has. For me, marathons are meant to be raced, not just finished. For that reason, they will always be hard. They will always push me to my limits of pain tolerance and endurance.

In 2017, I will run my first real ultra. I don’t know when or where or what distance but I do know one thing…between now an then I need to learn to slow down!

Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Half Recap

What a whirlwind few weeks we’ve had around here! One Saturday morning, a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, we were sitting around the kitchen while I made breakfast. Evie was whining, Alvy was crying, Jason had his head buried in the computer and I was trying my best to ignore all of them so that I didn’t overcook our eggs. Just when I was about to snap, Jason, who had been extremely quiet all morning, handed me a sheet of paper. Airline tickets to for us all to go to San Juan. We were going on vacation! In two weeks! Ack!

Puerto Rico

We had a great time on the beach! It’s amazing what a week in the sand and sun can do for your morale. BUT this post isn’t titled Puerto Rico Vacation Recap so I’ll skip to the important part. We were to arrive home just 48 hours prior to the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Half Marathon, which I’d been training for since September. Hmmmm. Interesting.

The end result? Apparently copious pina coladas and unlimited beach time are good for tapering because I ran a 5 minute PR! 1:48:33! Granted when I began this training cycle my first long run was 12 miles so I wasn’t training for distance, I was training for speed – which worked!

We ran this race in 2011. Since then the course has changed so I was unfamiliar with the route. On Saturday morning before we left our house for San Antonio I looked at the route online and printed out our confirmation sheets. When I grabbed the confirmation sheets off the printer I saw my corral. 4?!?! I felt my heart skip a beat.

Do they have the right person? Me? 4? Are they sure?

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The last time we ran this race I was in corral 13. Corral 4 is….not 13. I wasn’t nervous about the race at all until then. Then I started second guessing my pina coladas and every other ounce of my training. Did I run enough intervals? Would my feet give me problems? Should I back off a corral or two?

No. You trained to run a 1:49, your corral is for a 1:49. Do not let the corral intimidate you. Do not be afraid of the pain. Don’t be a wuss. Put on your big girl panties and go do it.

I didn’t really have much of a plan, just stick as close to an 8:00 minute mile as I could.

Right off the start line I could tell it was going to be a great day. My legs felt fresh, running was easy. The weather was perfect for racing (low 50s). I was keeping a nice pace and it wasn’t difficult at all. I was focusing on my pace and my form and those first few miles flew by. I was so focused that I ran right past the Alamo and never even saw it.

Mile 1 – 8:08
Mile 2 – 7:44
Mile 3 – 7:59
Mile 4 – 8:09
Mile 5 – 8:04

HILLS. HOLY HILLS. Living in Houston I forget that hills exist. The course was relatively flat but I think the event planners found every single hill in San Antonio. There’s nothing like that here shy of an overpass and I just can’t train for them. They kicked my butt and are the reason that I’m still sore. I haven’t been sore from a run in YEARS.

Elevation

Mile 6 – 8:41
Mile 7 – 8:33

I recovered from the hills…kind of.  Thighs felt a little wobbly but I had no joint pain, no cramping, no big cause for concern.

Mile 8 – 8:04
Mile 9 – 7:55
Mile 10 – 7:50
Mile 11 – 8:11

I started doing math in my head. If I can keep this pace for two more miles……then I hit a wall.

Almost instantly things became exceptionally hard. Around the same time I found myself in hole in the pack, practically running alone. It was me and two male runners both of whom were just a couple of paces in front of me.

Male runner #1 turns his head towards me and says, “You go girl. You got this!” He obviously could tell I was beginning to struggle.

Male runner #2 musters his best high-pitch female voice and says, “Thank you. I think I’ll be just fine.”

Male runner #1 says, “Not you. Her.”

I started giggling. Thanks guys. I needed that.

Runners are awesome.

By mile 12 I was completely spent. My legs were moving but I couldn’t feel them. My energy was completely drained and I really had nothing left to give the course. I did the best I could to maintain my pace to the finish. When I saw the finish line up ahead I started crying simply because I was almost done.

Mile 12 – 8:28
Mile 13 – 8:36

I crossed the finish line and I could no longer stand. Two very nice volunteers held me up while I convinced my legs that they really needed to walk back to the hotel.

I left San Antonio with absolutely no regrets. I gave that race every bit I had, all my energy both physical and mental was left there on the course. I can say for certain that I could not have run a better race.

Standings

My next goal is a big one. According to McMillan to qualify for Boston I need to be able to run a 1:44 half. Time to shave off 4 minutes!

Hottest Half Recap

recap imageI understand it’s been six weeks since I ran the Hottest Half and my recap window has long since past but I do want to talk a bit about this race. I’ve wanted to run this race for quite some time but the timing never seemed to work out. A few weeks prior to the event I finally decided I was going to do it and I spent all of three weeks training.

The race was August 24. The high for that day was 100 degrees F but the race was run early in the morning so the temperature at the start was only about 80.

This was a small race, only around 1,000 participants which started and ended in the design district just west of downtown Dallas. The course went through the flood plain along the Trinity River which had very few trees and only partial shade. I don’t normally race wearing a shirt but for this particular race I chose to wear a very sheer Nike tank because I wanted to keep the sun off my body. I wore sunglasses (and I took a hat but I never put it on) and my Enduracool towel. Before the race began I made sure the towel was wet and I wore it tied around my neck like scarf. At every water stop I took two cups of water. One to drink and one to pour over my towel to keep it wet. This strategy worked well and I never had a problem with the heat.

Begin rant.

I’m not sure I would run this race again just simply because the course included three miles of running off road (miles 8, 9 & 10). This wasn’t a nice stretch of gravel either it was on a service road that was peppered in rocks the size of golf balls. Since no one wanted to risk a twisted ankle it forced everyone onto a muddy shoulder, set on an incline, in a single file line. This reason alone would keep me from running this race again.

But unfortunately, I’ve got a second reason I don’t want to run this race again. The distance. It is a given that a runner is never going to be able to run the shortest possible route in a race. I get this. I understand that races are measured for the race distance to be the shortest possible route and most runners will run further. I get that. I don’t expect my Garmin to tell me I ran exactly 13.1 miles. I am familiar with the USA Track & Field requirements for measuring a course. I know all these things. I also understand USATF states that GPS devices always measure long and that their accuracy can be questionable due to tall buildings or trees.

When I ran the Woodlands Marathon earlier this year my Garmin told me I ran 26.46 miles. Somehow over the course I picked up a quarter mile by not taking the shortest possible route. I was okay with this. It seemed reasonable. In the Houston half I ran a tenth (.10) of a mile too far, again reasonable.

In the Hottest Half I ran a full half mile too far. A HALF MILE. I just don’t see how I can only pick up a quarter mile in a full marathon but double that in only half that distance, especially in a race this small where I didn’t have to dodge other runners every time I went around a corner.

Let me also clarify that this wasn’t an issue with my watch. This race took place in a flood area where there are no trees and tall buildings to interfere with the GPS and I know it wasn’t just my watch that recorded this discrepancy. Since I ran without headphones I could hear all the other GPS watches chiming every mile within just a few seconds of mine. It wasn’t just me.

Along with that, the mile markers along the course weren’t anywhere near where they should have been. The early mile markers were almost a full quarter mile off and the later ones weren’t anywhere close. Mile marker 12 was only a half mile from the finish line. These two factors left me not trusting the course measurement. I’m sure the race organizers will say the course was measured correctly and I have no way to prove them wrong but what I can tell them is no runner, especially one trying to PR, wants to be forced to run an extra half mile over a half marathon distance – it’s an issue with the course. For that reason, I won’t be running Hottest Half again.

Rant over.

Post Race PhotoSomehow I still managed to PR with a 1:54:00 so it’s not all bad.

Overall: 108/1197
Gender 27/631
Age group: 9/127

{Splits}

Mile 1 – 8:39
Mile 2 – 8:11
Mile 3 – 8:12
Mile 4 – 8:04
Mile 5 – 8:10
Mile 6 – 8:07
Mile 8 – 8:30
Mile 9 – 8:30
Mile 10 – 8:40
Mile 11 – 8:19
Mile 12 – 8:26
Mile 13 – 8:38

I’m glad I finally got to run this race, it’d been on my radar for a while. I was nervous about the “hottest” part of the Hottest Half but that didn’t turn out to be a problem at all. We had fun playing in Dallas as a family for a couple of days – we went to all our favorite places, ate at all our favorite restaurants and reminisced about our life there. I’d like to make a race in Dallas an annual event, maybe I’ll try to run Big D Half in April. Big D is always a favorite!

The Hottest Half!

Hottest-Half-logo-2014-sI’ve always said that I like being half marathon ready. Meaning that I’m in good enough shape that I could hop into a half marathon with very little additional preparation. I’ve been in that place in my training for a while now and I’ve finally decided to pull the trigger.

I registered for the Hottest Half!

I officially have three weeks to get myself ready. Last night I crafted a three week training plan and am ready to get started!

Though this plan is only three weeks long it is by far the most technical plan I’ve ever undertaken. I’ve never actually tried to hit paces before during training, I’ve always just winged it based on feel but I’m at a place now where I won’t continue to improve unless I get slightly more serious with my training plans.

Hottest Half Training Shedule

Notice there’s no off days? That’s because I’m still streaking, today is day 107! I’m not sure how that’s going to affect my training so I’m giving myself the option of switching the Friday 4-miler to 1-mile if I feel my body needs the break.

The paces here are calculated off a finish time of 1:50 and honestly I think that’s realistic. I’ve been doing 800 meter intervals at a 7:34 pace once a week for the last several weeks so tomorrow’s run actually will be a bit easy (knock on wood) and the weekly mileage is spot on. I ran 40 miles last week so I don’t see the total mileage being a problem. I can easily maintain a 9 minute/mile while pushing the stroller so a race pace of 8:24 might be pushing it a little but not too far off.

I plan on doing the intervals on the treadmill at the gym, the remainder of the weekday runs will be done pushing the double stroller (including the tempo) and Jason can watch the kids on Saturday and Sunday for my long run and race pace run.

Despite the name, I’m not worried about the heat. I lived in Dallas for six years so I’m familiar with the weather. Now I live in Houston and I run outside almost every day, even during the summer. I’m as acclimated to the heat as I can get so it shouldn’t be much of a shock.

I am so excited about this! I’ve wanted to run this race for a long, long time but the timing never worked out for me. I’ve been either pregnant or recovering from having a baby during the training window for the last four years but this is the year! EXCITED!

The Woodlands Marathon, Race Recap

20140301_065725Saturday, I completed my second marathon. What a race it was! The weather was less than ideal, between 70-80 degrees and 100% humidity. Not exactly perfect racing conditions.

The day didn’t start out quite like I expected. I was supposed to pick up my training partner, Meycy at her house at 5 AM, at 4:55 my eyes shot open and I looked at my watch. I bolted out of bed and didn’t even have time to wonder why the alarm I set didn’t wake me up.

I brewed a pot of coffee, threw on my running clothes (which I had thankfully laid out the night before) and by 5:07, I was sitting in her driveway.

We were parked by 6 AM. Even though we got there an hour early by the time I’d pumped and we’d waited in line for the restroom we barely made it to our corral before the horn went off. It made for a very frantic morning.

The Result

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Official Time – 4:16.33/9:42
A PR BY 20 MINUTES!

Age Group Results: 19/96

Gender Results: 110/513

Total Rank: 393/1230

 

The Race Summary

Miles 1-4, were a planned warm up. Meycy and I stayed together as we bobbed and weaved our way through the crowd. Sometime around mile 4, she stopped to do something to her phone and I lost her. I didn’t see her again until the finish.

Mile 1 – 9:45
Mile 2 – 9:24
Mile 3 – 9:54
Mile 4 – 9:29

After I lost Meycy, I plugged in my headphones and started to focus on the task at hand.

Mile 5 – 9:18
Mile 6 – 9:18

10k Split – 59:40.08

Mile 7 – 9:02
Mile 8 – 9:03
Mile 9 – 9:13
Mile 10 – 9:20
Mile 11 – 8:57
Mile 12 – 9:05
Mile 13 – 9:04

13.1 Split – 2:02.55

The first half of the race was uneventful. By the halfway mark I felt great. My legs were loose and my energy was high. I didn’t realize how hilly The Woodlands is; I swear we climbed a mountain (by Houston standards) at mile 10! I called my husband halfway and told him I was running a relatively easy 9 minute/mile pace and I’d call him back at mile 20.

Mile 14 – 9:04
Mile 15 – 8:58
Mile 16 – 9:30
Mile 17 – 9:16
Mile 18 – 9:05
Mile 19 – 9:33
Mile 20 – 9:47

Around mile 20 I started to feel fatigued. My legs became heavy and my hips were on fire. I called my husband to inform him my pace had slowed and that my legs were starting to give out.

Mile 21 – 9:52

35k Split – 3:24.98

The sun, which had been nicely hidden behind an overcast sky, suddenly came out and we found ourselves without any shade. The temperature went up from a bearable 70 degrees to a scorching 80 degrees in just a matter of minutes.

Mile 22 – 10:39
Mile 23 – 11:01

I felt like I was barely moving. The only sensation coming from my lower body was pain. I had to actually look down at my feet to make sure I was still running. Whatever little energy I had left was being sucked out by the sun.

The other runners were clearly suffering the same fate. The pace of the entire field slowed; almost as many people were walking as running. Over my headphones I could hear heart rate monitor alarms going off as heart rates maxed out. On the side of the road I saw a woman vomit.

I tried to focus on the music in my ears and just stare ahead. I could hear myself audibly groaning as I struggled to put one foot in front of the other.

Mile 24 – 11:43
Mile 25 – 12:10

photo (6)I saw a spectator sign that said, “You’re an inspiration,” and I fought back tears. I tried to remind myself that wasting energy by crying wasn’t going to get me to the finish line any faster. Instead I tried to use those emotions to push myself through. Just use it, I kept telling myself. Just use it.

Mile 26 – 10:26

Going around the last corner a volunteer said, “Just 1/4 mile. You can do it!” At that point I couldn’t hold it back any longer. Tears started flowing like a waterfall. I started hyperventilating trying to hold them back but it was no use.

Another volunteer stood in the middle of the finish chute saying, “Smile! You just finished a marathon!”

I did my best to conjure a smile for the camera as I crossed the finish line and just like that, it was over.

The Aftermath

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I hobbled out of the finish chute and over to the food tent. With a breakfast taco in hand I went over to where I promised Meycy we’d meet up and sat down on the ground and waited.

45 minutes later I saw her limping over toward me. She looked like you’d expect for a woman who’d just finished her first marathon to look, exhausted but elated.

“I hate you,” she said.
I replied, “I know.”

This wasn’t just a marathon. It was an 18 week journey, an adventure.  We spent dozens of hours away from our kids and husbands as we pounded the pavement during a brutally cold winter. We were chased by dogs, almost hit by cars and scared out of our skin by a pair of donkeys on a country road in the total darkness of early morning.

It was awesome.

Two days later, I am still sore and exhausted. I’m not exactly sure where to go from here. I plan on taking a full week off to allow my body to heal and then after that I don’t know. I’d love to qualify for the Houston Marathon and I think now I’m in good enough shape to do that in either the 10k (51 mins) or half distance (1:53). But I haven’t made any concrete plans to try.

What I DO know is that some time around Halloween, you’ll find me in the darkness of early morning, running the streets of my neighborhood preparing, yet again, to do something extraordinary…complete marathon #3.

Houston Half Recap

DISCLAIMER: This is long. I’m sorry.

A couple weeks ago my husband and I ran the Houston Half Marathon. Yes, I realize it’s been a full two weeks since the race so this post is rather belated. But, hey right now my life is just a little crazy. Getting this up at all is a small victory.

There’s only one word that can describe the experience. Rain. The race was planned to start at 7 am but thanks to a line of thunderstorms and heavy rain that moved through the area the start was postponed an hour to 8 am.

So, we sat around for an hour in the parking garage (it was warm and dry in there!) waiting for the rain to let up.

The delay wasn’t really a big deal except that I ended up eating my pre-race banana an hour too early and by the time the race started I was starving.

Because of the rain I have almost no pictures of the event. I wasn’t too motivated to take my camera out in the epic downpour. I think this one sums it up the best.

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My husband hung his shirt on the baby gate to dry out.

THE RACE

The race is an out and back which started and ended at Sam Houston Park in downtown Houston. The first bit meandered around downtown and then finally down Allen Parkway to Memorial Park and back to downtown.

The weather was a very cool 60 degrees and it rained during the ENTIRE race. I don’t mind racing in the rain, it kept my body cool and the clouds kept the sun away but being wet after the race wasn’t fun at all.

This was a smaller run, about 5000 runners and since it was small there wasn’t a waved start which was a little frustrating. The funnel effect of the downtown streets and the crowd of people running different speeds made finding my pace almost impossible for the first two miles. I bobbed and weaved around people just trying to settle in. Around mile three the crowd thinned out a bit and everyone was starting to run in a group of people their own pace. My husband found me around mile two and ran with me for about a mile but then he peeled off at a rest station and I didn’t see him again until the finish.

The race itself was organized well. Rest stations were about every 1.5-2 miles and were well stocked with Gatorade and water. The course was well marked and had police at every intersection. EMTs were patrolling the course on bicycles looking for people in need of medical attention.

I think the worst part of this race was something the race organizers couldn’t control – the mud at the post race party at Sam Houston Park. It was horrible. It made the post race “party” more of a grab a donut and go home type of event. This wasn’t mud in the traditional sense. This was brown primordial goop that was slippery! Oh so slippery! You couldn’t get to the food tent or any of the vendor tents without risking a fall in the muck. That and there was no toilet paper left in any of the portable toilets by the time the race was over.

MY PACE

My stretch goal for this run was to break two hours. I set the virtual partner on my Garmin for a 9 minute mile and made it my goal to beat it. I knew if I could average 9 minute miles then breaking two hours was a given.

My racing strategy was to run 9:30 the first mile, 9:15 the second, and then settle into 9 for the remainder of the first half. The second half I could focus on negative splitting and making up the lost time.

This was a small race (less than 5,000) and therefore didn’t have a
wave start. The crowd during the first couple miles made intentional pacing almost impossible. It was more of a do-the-best-you-can kind of situation but the rest of the plan worked out well.

Splits were: 9:23, 9:12, 8:53, 9:08, 8:40, 8:43, 8:55, 8:48, 8:45, 8:33, 8:32, 9:02, 8:37

Official time – 1:56.28

Overall – 924/4543
Gender – 252/2378
Age Group (F 30-34) – 48/391
Avearage Pace – 8:53 min/mile

1st Half – 59:09 (9:01 min/mile)
2nd Half – 57:22 (8:45 min/mile)

PR by a whopping 13 minutes! 

I stopped at every water stop through the first half of the race and then only one in the second half. Took a Gu (Roctane Cherry Lime) at mile 7.

My legs felt surprisingly good throughout the race. Around mile 10 I started cramping in my left shin and foot but was able to run through it. By the time I finished the race though my thighs felt like someone had been pounding them with a hammer. My pacing strategy worked well; at the finish I had the perfect amount of energy left. I felt like I had pushed my body as hard as I could and left the course with absolutely no regrets.

THE AFTERMATH

Since the post race party was more of a muddy shiver fest we grabbed a few bites of food and then left. I changed into dry clothes in the car so at least I would be dry on the way home.

After picking up the kids at my parents house and visiting for a little bit we finally made it back to our house around 2. We immediately laid Evie down for a nap. I laid down with the baby for a nap around 3 and we all woke back up around 6.

We had planned on grilling burgers for dinner but we were both so tired we ordered pizza instead.

At 8:30 I laid down in bed to nurse the baby and fell asleep again. This time for the night.

I was so tired that I accidentally slept in one of my contacts. When I woke up I couldn’t see a thing out of my right eye and was a little freaked out. I kept putting eye drops in my eye thinking it was just really dry. It took me an hour to finally go look in the mirror to figure it out!

For those of you wondering, yes I wear a contact in each eye. I thought I took them both out before I laid down to feed the baby. I succeeded in removing the left one (which I put in the right side of the contact case?) and failed at removing the right one entirely, even though I distinctly remember taking it out. I must have been very, very tired.

THE SURPRISE

I think the biggest surprise of the day was my husband! He didn’t train AT ALL – like he maybe ran a total of 20 miles in the three months leading up to the race. He was planning on running/walking since he was so out of shape but somehow he still ran a 2:04! 2:04!!! No walking involved. Mind blown.

Rock n Roll San Antonio

This weekend was the much anticipated Rock n’ Roll San Antonio Half Marathon. We left our house Saturday morning and began what turned into a 5 hour drive to the Alamo City (it’s really only a 3 hour drive but thanks to me forgetting an important piece of the breastpump we had to turn around after we’d already been gone an hour). Evie cried almost the entire trip and by the time we arrived I was about ready to jump out of the car.

We immediately checked in to the hotel and went to pick up our race packets.

A little sidenote: Evie discovered the power of her voice on Friday. By this I mean she discovered how to scream (not cry) at the top of her lungs so loudly that it makes you suffer temporary hearing loss. She now does this at every possible opportunity. Sidenote over.

My parents are awesome and came with us to babysit during the race so after we picked up our packets we all went to dinner. Unfortunately, we spent the entire meal trying to get Evie to stop screaming. How do you teach a 6-month old baby that it’s not okay to yell in a restaurant?

“No honey, we don’t yell. It’s not considerate to the other people here.”

Uh no. Let me just go ahead and tell you that doesn’t work. Instead my mom, the saint, bounced, sang to and played with her so I could eat. Thank you, mom.

On the way back to the hotel we walked by the Alamo which is beautiful at night. My dad, being the very proud and loyal Texan he is was determined to have little Evie touch it. Apparently it’s a “federal offense” to have a 6-month old baby put one finger on the structure, we were sternly warned by a policeman who was hiding in the bushes. Uh huh. Poo-poo head. That’s what I think about that.

We woke up at 5:30 the next morning for the race. We dropped off the baby with my parents at 6 and by 6:30 we were at the start line.

For me, the race was great. My carb loading on Friday and Saturday was extremely successful and if you can call 13 miles easy, I think this race qualifies. I finished in exactly 2:10:00  which oddly enough is my EXACT same finishing time for the Virginia Beach half we ran a year ago, down to the second! I am still perplexed by how odd that coincidence is. I was mildly sore the remainder of the day Sunday and Monday but by Tuesday afternoon I was ache and pain free. Yay!

For Jason, the race was slightly different. After developing a massive leg cramp around mile 4 he limped through the remaining 9 miles. Though somehow he still managed to break the 2 hour mark, go honey! This small personal victory was overshadowed by something much, much more serious. As he was crossing the finish line Jason saw a fellow runner collapse and die. Not figuratively. Literally. It’s one thing to know that a runner dies during an endurance event but it’s something entirely different to actually see it happen. Right there. The man who had been running beside him for the last mile just keeled over and died. It has been haunting him for the last 3 days. It’s a shockingly real reminder of how dangerous endurance running is, especially in the heat. Not something to be taken lightly.

After the race, we reunited with my parents, showered and went to Tony Romas on the Riverwalk where we proceeded to eat a massive hamburger. A small reward for months of training and one really long run.

My parents left after the burger and our little family spent the remainder of the afternoon laying in bed sleeping off our exhausting morning. I had a massage that evening and the most wonderful husband ever babysat. Early Monday morning we hopped in the car and drove back home. This time, with a much more content child. Thank goodness.