Monday, February 20, 2017

2017 Austin Half Marathon

I have been eating a lot of BBQ lately. A lot. 53 places in 35 days for a freelance gig. I did not gain any weight, but I was not happy with the way I was feeling. I needed to jump start my diet and fitness level. I saw on social media that the finishers of the Austin Half Marathon/Marathon were earning a medal that doubled as a belt bucket. When I saw that, I was all in. At this point, it was only four weeks till the race. I have been running 3 miles a few times a week so I needed to speed up the training quite a bit. The first week I ran 3, 3, and 5. The following week I ran 3, 3, 5, and 7. The third week I ran 3, 5, 7, 3, and 10. The week of the race I ran 3, 5, 7, and 3. I did my best to get ready for the race.
Shot of the Capitol from the start line
The winters in Texas can be crazy. At the start of the race, the temperature was 66 degrees and 93% humidity. That is way too warm for February. When you are running, it normally feels 20 degrees warmer and then add the humidity on top of that? It was not going to be a pretty race. My PR for a half was 1:31.54. I knew that no way in the hell I was going to even touch it. My goal was to finish under two hours.
Mile 6
Mile 7
My plan was to hang out with the 3:45 marathon pace group for as long as can. About mile 3, I lost sight of them. My right shin was killing me from the start of the race. I think I might have hurt it a week before playing kickball. I am in a kickball league but decided to not play this previous Friday night to conserve my legs and not further injury myself. With the volume of running I have been putting in, my legs had been tired for about two weeks now. The climb up Congress Ave. felt fine. I was feeling strong. The descent down First St. gave me a nice break. Running by the Beef Team cheering section gave me a boost. I saw Amber around mile 7. I stopped, hugged her, gave her a kiss, and took a selfie. I love my wife and appreciate her support. The old me would have not wanted to give away any time. The older I get, the more laid back I have become.
Selfie with the wife at mile 7
Since my last Austin race, the half marathon race course has changed. The course takes you south of Austin High and further west to the intersection of Lake Austin and Enfield. My body did not love me starting mile eight. The lack of training was starting to show. My pace was over a 9 minute mile. Then the rolling hills came. I somehow how managed to tackle them without losing any more time. I used to say I eat hills for breakfast. Times have changed though. The big hill at Enfield and Lamar was the last challenge of the race. I was passing people up it so that felt good. There used to be a couple of rolling hills to finish the race, but they left it for the marathoners instead. With the finish basically being downhill, I punched it with a quarter mile left.

I ran 13.1 miles for a free beer...
My official time was 1:56.02. I finished under 2 hours, and it was not my slowest half either. Win-win. My pace was under nine minutes. None of my training runs were under nine minutes either so I felt pretty good about that. What is next? I wanted to run a marathon this winter, but I knew that going to Europe for over two weeks in November/December would have made training impossible. Before the end of the year, I do want to run a marathon. I just need about a good four months of training. We shall see.

Until next time, happy running...

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Fit Foodie 5K

Representing Beef Team
Oh man! It has been a hot minute. I am still running. Most of my focus has been with and everything that has to do with barbecue. It has been over two years since I ran a race! I miss the feeling you get after a race. That runner's high that cannot be matched. You put all this work into it, and you feel like you have accomplished something. I saw that a lot of my Austin food blogger friends were participating in the Fit Foodie 5K and the activities associated with the weekend long event. I was on the fence but ultimately signed up, thinking I needed a running challenge.
My wife and I have been on the Whole 30 diet for the month of June. It is basically where all you eat is meats, vegetables, and fruits. No dairy, no sugar, no alcohol, and no legumes. Sounds terrible, right? I feel great, but my workouts have suffered. I just do not have the energy to push through. My morning runs have been about 30 seconds per mile slower too. Going into the race, I had no idea what to expect from my body. I wanted to run strong and faster than my normal runs.
I got to the start line a little later than I wanted to. Access to the garage to park in was closed off. I eventually found a spot along the street a half mile away. When the race started, I just went for it. I had to dodge some slower runners. I do not get why some people line up so close to the start. They end up just getting in the way. I felt great. I ended pushing it too hard though. I get that competitive spirit from running around faster runners and try to keep up. I ran a 6:36 for the first mile. That is way too quick. However it is good to know that I can still run that fast. The humidity got to me. My clothes were soaked in no time, and I had trouble breathing. I suffered through the second mile and had a time of 7:43. Some of the course was on a trail which I did not expect. It slowed me down a little bit. My pace kept slipping, and I clocked the third mile at 8:11. I was able to finish strong and sprint to the finish line. My official time ended up being 23:41. It was not my fastest, but I was fine with the results.
A medal for a 5k?
I am not the biggest fan of 5K's or any short races for that matter. I prefer half and full marathons. I do not have the discipline in the shorter races. I just lay it all out there. If I use the same strategy for longer races, I would be screwed. I had fun at the race. It was good to get out there. I did not stick around to check out the post-race festivities because my parents were coming to town. What is next on the agenda? I wanted to do a winter marathon but that idea has been scrapped. We are going to Spain and Italy in November for a couple of weeks so training would be a problem. I might run a half marathon in January or February. We will see.
True story
Until next time, happy running...

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Number 5

The Austin Marathon was finally upon us. I had no expectations for the race considering how I ran the Rogue 30K. After 3M, I took a week off of running. My right knee was hurting, and I could not bear the pain while walking let alone running. I might have hurt it playing basketball. After my knee started to feel better, I ran as much as I could. I ran four to five times a week. I mixed in some speed and hill work in there a few times. I feel like I am cheating myself by not having a strict training plan. I only had one 20 mile long run which I ran a week before the race. The 30K was my only other long run. I struggled with both runs.

The night before the race, I went to see Young the Giant in concert. What?! Yeah I did that. My buddy Rob and I have bought tickets to a bunch of concerts this year. I did not realize that this one fell on the night before the marathon. I was on my feet for about three hours, but I did not drink any alcohol though. I ended up getting about five hours of sleep which is fine because I normally do not sleep very well the night before a marathon. On Friday night, I got about six hours because I wanted to wake up early to watch the USA vs. Russia hockey game.

The weather forecast all week for Sunday was not looking good. It was going to be warmer than usual. The morning of the race, it was in the 50's with a humidity of 95%. Yikes. The race started cloudy, and thank goodness, it stayed that way. If the sun had came out, I would have been toast. I made a conscious effort to drink more water leading up to the race to make sure I did not cramp. I ate a small bowl of cereal the morning of the race. +Amber McGee dropped me off at the starting line about 15 minutes before the race which is early for me as of late. I sucked down a gel right before the start. That was the extent of my fueling before and during the race. I had extra gels, but I was running on how my body felt. I did not have a goal going into the race. I knew a PR was out of the question. I just wanted to finish under four hours without walking. At the back of my mind, a 3:45 time would have been ideal. I also wore a brand new pair of shoes to race in. Good thing that did not backfire in my face.

I started the race in the middle of the pack to make sure I did not go too fast. I wanted to keep the pace under 8:30. My plan was to bank time which is probably not smart. I wanted to build a cushion in case I started to slow down. Around mile two, my lower back was starting to hurt. My back has been hurting of late for whatever reason. The crawl up Congress Avenue felt good. My ankle started to feel funny on South First Street. I kept feeling I was going to twist it throughout the race. I took on some kind of liquid at every water stop. The weird thing is I never had to stop during the race for a bathroom break.

The crowd support this year has been better than in the past. I felt like there were more people cheering us runners on. I ran my fastest mile from seven to eight probably because of the energy I felt from the Beef Team cheering section. There were a ton of them. Livestrong used to have an awesome cheering section around mile nine. Freescale replaced them as the title sponsor this year and picked up where Livestrong left off. The Freescale volunteers/employees were having themselves a party. At mile 10, I had stop for a brief moment. My calf compression sleeve was starting to rub my left heel raw. I had to put some Vaseline on the spot.

The miles leading up to 18 were pretty uneventful. I kept an even and steady pace. Around Great Northern Boulevard, my legs were starting to feel heavy. It did not help that Great Northern is a false flat. It looks flat, but in reality, it is an incline. My pace was starting to slow down. I had a feeling the next eight miles was going to be a fight. My legs felt tired during the concert so I knew I clearly made a mistake there. It was more of a mental fight than a physical one to resist the urge to walk. During the race, I was waiting for the hills to go away, but it never did. The 3:40 pace group passed me around mile 22. That was not a good sign because I did not even try to hang with them. I was counting the miles down as I went. At mile 23, I was like "come you wuss, you run 3 miles all the time." I was going to have to grind it out. You start to see more causalities when you run through campus. People were starting to walk, and it can be discouraging and disheartening.

When I crossed MLK, it was the home stretch. I knew there were two hills before the downhill finish. I enjoy running up hills and have always been a strong hill runner. I picked up the pace and was passing people on the hills. However I have a poor memory. I thought the light ahead was 11th Street, but it was actually 12th. Come on! I had one more hill and block to conquer. I turned on the jets and took off for the finish line. I crossed with a time of 3:42.42. I was satisfied with the result. I did not train correctly, but I ran the race with a decent time without injuring myself. Next time I run a marathon, I will train properly.

Thanks to everyone who was out there cheering me on. To my awesome wife- cheering for me at multiple spots with our friend Eileen. To Chloe- who flew from Atlanta to cheer me on, sort of. To Mike and Michelle- who probably wanted to run but are about to move to Switzerland. To Mike Galante- who was out for a morning run and ran by and gave me some encouragement.

What is next? Hopefully the New York City Marathon in October. I will find out at the end of March if I get in through the lottery process. I would also considering running the Capital to Coast relay again. I might try to win a couple of local 5K's in Kyle. I sort of feel like I am cheating when I run those but oh well.

Until next time, happy running...

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Bridge

The Austin Marathon is coming up soon. What have I done since then?

Run for the Water was a week after my relay. My legs and body were not ready for the 10 mile race. Also I was still trying to catch up on sleep. It was rainy when I was parking the car. I met up with some people at work and ended up getting to the starting line a little bit late. I was stuck in the back which was not necessarily a bad thing. It prevented me from going out to fast. I did not think it would have matter though. I just could not turn it on this day. The rain stopped but the humidity stuck around. My official time ended up being 01:15:51. I was little disappointed in not getting a PR, but I knew it was probably not in the cards.

Decker Challenge Half-Marathon was next on the list. I am starting to become pretty careless about what I do around race day now. I have stopped worrying about the amount of sleep and what I eat or drink. We went to Houston the Thursday before to see Justin Timberlake in concert, and it was awesome. We ate a lot of barbecue and sushi and also had a few drinks on that trip. We drove back Saturday because my work had a Christmas party that night. I ate a bunch of junk food and had some Shiner Cheer on draft that night at the party. This was the first time I ever drank before a race. I ended up getting six hours of sleep that night. I left the house 45 minutes before the start of the race and got there with five minutes to spare. It was below freezing this morning, and I saw snow and ice on the drive to the race. I have never ran Decker, but I knew it was going to be hilly. I wore tights for the first time for a race. I kept a nice pace with a lot of strong effort on the uphills. Someone along the course called me an "uphill beast." I will take that as a compliment. Around mile 10, there was a king of the hill challenge. I sprinted up that hill and felt great. I finished the race strong and ended up with an acceptable time of 1:38:45.

Rogue 30K was a lot sooner than I expected. Last year, it was after the 3M Half-Marathon, but the 30K was two weeks before this time. I have not been running as much. I have been hovering around 30 miles a week, and the week before the race I ran 14 miles. I thought that I can make the jump to 18.6 miles easily. Boy, I ended up being wrong. My goal was to stick with the 8:00 minute a mile pace group. My easy pace is normally around 8:30 so I thought that was doable. When I left the house the temperature was around 55 degrees. When I got to the start line, it was 37 degrees so I was underdressed. I should have had on an extra layer that I could have shed and an ear band. It was definitely cold at times with the stiff wind. The race itself was pretty eventful the first 13 miles or so. My legs were starting to tighten up all over. I started to fall of the pace. Around mile 17 or so, I could not fight my legs any longer and had to walk. I was devastated because I have never walked during a race before. I alternated running and walking till I crossed the finish line. My finishing time was 2:39:22 which was about 12 minutes slower than last year. Sometimes I think having bad races make you a better runner in the long run.

3M Half-Marathon was the fifth race in the Austin Distance Challenge. 3M is a faster race because the course is mostly downhill. They also changed the course this year to not include such an uphill finish. I knew I was not going to get a personal record (PR) because I have not been running as much or as fast. The weather was perfect for a half-marathon. It was nice and cool, but you could still wear a short sleeve shirt and shorts. I got to the start time with two minutes to spare. I have been cutting it close lately in getting to races. Around mile three, my claves were tightening, and I was getting shin splints. I was like crap, not this again. I fought them for most of the race. I never get shin splints. It might have been the shoes I was wearing. I had my own personal cheering section following me around the course. My wife, +Amber McGee, is pretty awesome and I guess Amanda, Eileen, and Scott are too. I kept a pretty consistent pace throughout the race. I finished the race strong and was happy with that. I should have turned it up more with three miles left. Oh well. My official time was 1:37:49. The goal coming into the race was to finish it faster than Decker. Goal met!

What is next? The Austin Marathon is four weeks away. I am a little scared/worried about it. We shall see.

Until next time, happy running...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

It's Been A While

I am still here. Nothing too exciting has happened on the running front. I have started my own barbecue blog that you can find here. I have not done a race since the Cleveland Marathon back in May. The weather in Texas this summer was not too bad. Even though it was not as hot, I struggled to hit a 100 miles every month, but I still managed to. Racing season is finally upon us.

Sometime this summer, one of my managers, Thomas, at Progressive brought up an idea of doing a relay race to me. It is called the Capital to Coast Relay. The course is a 223 mile trek from Austin to Corpus Christi. There are 36 legs of the race that is split among the team. We were able to put a team of 11 employees together plus a spouse. I did not really train for it. The only thing I did differently to prepare for the race was run three times within a 24 hour window. I did that the two weekends prior to the race. I would run 7+ miles each time. The second run was always the hardest.

We met up at work at 3 am on Friday so that meant that I was getting up at 2:15 am. I do not recall ever waking up that early. I have been up at that time after a night of drinking though. I ended up only getting two hours of sleep that night. We loaded up the two vehicles at work and headed to the starting line. Our team's first leg was at 4 am starting from Republic Square Park. Paul, Jesus, Evette, Gracie, Christy, and Henry were in the first vehicle. My vehicle had Cat, Amy, Patsy, Raquel, and Thomas. Our vehicle was slated to run the 7-12, 19-24, and 31-36 legs. We would run anywhere from 4 to 9 miles and then swap out with another teammate at various exchange points. Based on our pace and start time, we should be at the finish line by 5:30 pm the next day.

Our first leg out of our group was not supposed to start until 10 am or so. We ended up hanging out at a Starbucks parking lot for a while. We tried to rest, but our attempts were futile. I think everyone was excited to get out there and run. We met up with the first group during their fifth leg to hook them up with breakfast tacos. We were doing great on time at that point. I tried to eat a little bit throughout the day. I just did not want to cramp up during my run. Because our route took us through Lockhart, I could not pass up some barbecue. I had to grab a slice of moist brisket from Black's.

The weather was perfect for the first round of legs. It was overcast and cool. I did not run my first leg till almost 4 pm. I wanted our vehicle to meet me somewhere in the middle of the leg so I can grab some water. Running out in BFE is not always the safest thing so we ran with our phones. I love my Lululemon shorts because they have a zippered pocket big enough for my iPhone. I have not been doing a lot of speed or hill work so I only pushed the pace a little bit. I was hoping to catch another team, but I did not see anyone till almost the exchange point. It was misty during the run, but I felt great. During parts of the run, the scenery was beautiful. At times, I did not feel like I was in Texas. When I finished my 8.5 miles in Seguin, we were about 30 minutes ahead of schedule. Afterwards, our vehicle went to a hotel, showered up, grabbed a bite, and took a nap. I only got about an hour in and was not ready to wake up.

It rained on the first vehicle during their second leg. When our vehicle started our legs, it was misting and a little humid. We were giving back a little bit of time because we were getting tired, and the second run of the day was always a pain for all of us. We had to wear a reflective vest, headlamps, and blinkers so we could see and also for cars to see us. Running in the pitch black in the middle of nowhere was eerie and freaky but sort of relaxing. We had no idea what was out there. We parked the vehicle along the side of the road quite frequently to check up on our comrades. I had a bagel about four hours before my run which ended up being a bad idea.

When I started my leg, it was almost 4 am. I do most of runs early in the morning so I was used to the time. During the six mile leg, I had stomach cramps. It was weird because I was hungry at the same time. My legs were really sore so my pace suffered a little. I am glad I did not run into any coyotes or rattlesnakes. I would often see stuff move in the distance or in the corner of my eye. It might have been my imagination, but my heart skipped a beat each time. When I finally got to the exchange point, we were still on pace. Everyone in the vehicle was tired at that point. We drove to Karnes City because one of the school's gyms was open to the runners. They had sleeping cots and shower available to us. That was nice of them. I was able to get another hour of sleep in.

Before heading out for the last leg, we grabbed some donuts and kolaches. The last leg was tough for our whole team. The first vehicle was juggling runners and legs so we would not lose a lot of time. People were picking up extra miles. There was a finishing deadline of 6 pm. We were not going to take a chance and miss out on getting our medals. The sun was out when our vehicle started our last leg. It started to warm up pretty fast. Our runners were starting to cramp up and getting dehydrated. The sun has always been my kryptonite. It just zaps your energy. I was trying to balance drinking enough water and Gatorade without needing to use the bathroom during my leg.

I wanted to take it easy and soak it in on my last leg. We were starting to lose chunks of time, but I knew if our vehicle gave me an hour to finish, we would be fine. When we were planning the legs, I wanted the longest and last leg because I would consider myself a strong runner. I was the closer of the group. When it was my turn, I pushed the pace because I had to. The last six mile stretch was on the shoulder of a freeway/causeway along the Gulf of Mexico. I basically wanted to finish as fast as I can so I would not die. I kept thinking if I was hit by a car, would I be smushed into the barrier or go over into the ocean and drown? I ran with a bottle of water so our vehicle did not have to give me any support because it would have been too dangerous. It was funny though because they tried to throw me a bottle when they drove by, but the bottle exploded when it hit the ground.

I turned on the jets the last mile or so. I actually past another team down the stretch. I am surprised I had enough in the tank to run this fast especially with the sun beating down on me. The whole team met up with me with about a block left, and we crossed the finish line together. It was a great feeling to work as a team and accomplish a goal together. We gained and lost time along the way, but it was a part of the adventure. The finish line was right on the beach and about 10 feet from the ocean. Our finishing backdrop was the USS Lexington. We snapped a few photos and had some beers after the race. We ended up finishing 32nd out of 36 teams. At least we were not last. There was a runner who ran all 223 miles by himself. It took over 60 hours for him to do so. Wow!

After we showered and got settled in our hotel room, we went to dinner across the street at Blackbeard's. One of their special was all you can eat shrimp. As many of you should know, I always try to eat a 100 shrimp every year at Red Lobster. These gulf shrimp at Blackbeard's were huge. With four beers in me, I only managed to eat 35 fried shrimp. Fail. I wanted to go out with the group after dinner, but I was exhausted. I went back to the hotel room and caught a little bit of FSU/Clemson game. I turned off the TV when I heard someone in the room snoring, but before I could take out my contacts, I was out.

On the way out of town the next morning, we stopped at the original Whataburger. It was two stories, but it was nothing special. At this point, we were excited to go home and return back to normalcy. Congratulations to everyone on the team. Without you guys, I would have not been able to cross the finish line. We were in together no matter what the results were or our time. I also want to take this opportunity to thank Thomas for planning and putting the team together. I know Raquel and Henry helped as well. Also I wanted to give a shout out to our sponsors Lauren Concrete and New Braunfels Machine. Without them, running this race might not have been possible for all of us.

This was the first time I have done anything like this. Would I do it again? Maybe. The lack of sleep is my only complaint. I did have a lot of fun though. Timing for next year would also be an issue as well. I am hoping to run the New York City marathon next year which is around the same time if I can get into it. We shall see.

What's next? I am doing the Austin Distance Challenge which comprises of six races. They are a 10K, 10 miler, half-marathon, 30K, another half-marathon, and then a full marathon (26.2 miles for those counting at home). I will probably join back up with Rogue soon so I can set a new PR for the Austin Marathon.

Until next time, happy running.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Cleveland Rocks...

For a while, I knew I had a work presentation in Cleveland, OH. I was going to be there during the third week of May. During the last week of April, I found out that Cleveland had a marathon the same weekend I was supposed to be there. I knew someone who was going to run it so I thought about cheering them on during the race. The more I thought about it, I was like hey, I could easily run the half marathon. As I dove into it a little bit more, I contemplated about running the full marathon. I asked around to see what everyone thought. Most of the responses were encouraging. I eventually said sure why not, let's do this and signed up.

With my crazy running month in March, I had a decent base. I also normally run at least a ten miler once a week. I had four weeks of training to get ready for the race, but I had only three long runs with no tapering to get close to 26.2 miles. When we were out of town in Lubbock on that first Saturday, I ran 14 miles. I felt like I ran all over the city. The following weekend I ran 18 miles through our neighborhood. It was downright boring. When I ran 22 miles the weekend before the race, it was tough and hot. As the miles piled up, the temperature and the sun got hotter. I struggled to the end because of the heat. I did the best I could to get ready for a marathon with less than a month of training.

Because I had trouble sleeping the night before my flight to Cleveland, I only got in about four hours of sleep. My flight was at 7 am so I could get in early enough to have time to pick up my race packet at the expo. I was able to sleep a little bit on my flights. After I picked up the rental car at the airport, I headed straight to the expo. At the expo, I met up with a person I knew from my facebook running group. It is cool to meet other runners in other cities. I grew up in the Cleveland area so I was familiar with it. I drove by our old home and took a picture of it. I stopped by an old friend's house. Her mom had worked with my mom and her dad had worked with my dad back in the day. I had dinner with her and her family which was nice, and we caught up and reminisce. After dinner, I went to check into my hotel which was across town. I am not a fan of the speed limits because it was 60 mph on the freeway and 25 on the side street. Because I am a speed demon, I am glad I do not live there.

I woke up the next morning on my own at 4:30 am. It was a good thing because I had set my alarm for 4:40 pm. I ended up only getting about three hours of sleep. I had a granola bar for breakfast, but the hotel was also gracious enough to get me a bagel and a banana. I drove downtown and found parking in between the starting line and Progressive Field. I was going to the Indians game after the race. Some of you know I hate to pay for parking, but shelling out five bucks was worth it this morning. I did not have to worry about finding a spot plus I parked at one location all day. It was about a mile walk to the start line, and once I got there, Mother Nature called at the right time. I also used gear check for the first time ever. I did not want to run with a giant key chain from the rental car in my pocket.

With a short training regimen, I had no idea what my goal for the race was. At the expo, one of the pacers said I should just shoot for 4 hour marathon and maybe 3:45 at best. When I got to the starting line, I lined up with the 3:30 group. I am pretty stubborn and felt like 3:30 would not be out of the question. The weather was overcast and a little bit humid, but it felt pretty nice at the start. The first few miles of the race were pretty uneventful. We ran along the lake and through some nicer neighborhoods. Some parts of the course were familiar to me, and it definitely jogged my childhood memories. There were a lot of people out cheering for the first half of the race. I gave a little bit of gas around mile 6 and decided to catch up to the 3:25 pace group. Around mile 11, the sun started to peak out. I had a feeling this was not going to be good. Training in Texas is definitely good practice for the heat and humidity, but you never hope to race in that kind of weather though. I was checking the forecast all week before the race, and the highs and lows were around 50/30. Of course the starting temperature was around the mid 60's this day.

At the split where the half marathoners and marathoners went their separate ways, there were a lot of people cheering. I like it when there is a big crowd because there is so much energy in the air. After the split, the crowd was nonexistent, and the energy was zapped. Houston was my first marathon, and I loved the crowd support there. I need to run the Chicago and NYC marathon soon. I heard it is one big giant party along the course. The next stretch of the race was really boring. We ran by industrial areas and warehouses. I started to pass people who were walking at this point. It was disheartening to see this because most people put in a lot of training to then get defeated by the sun. I noticed my pace was starting to slip so I picked it up a little. I took a quick pit stop at mile 18 which is strange because I normally have to go around mile 10. The next few miles were through a nice shaded park. I had no idea this park existed when I was growing up. The shade definitely helped me because after the park, the sun was starting to get to me.

There was an underpass at mile 22 that I felt like I was walking up it because I was running so slowly. I swear I am allergic to the sun. I fought the urge to walk. At this point of all of my marathons, I start to doubt myself. Why do I choose to run marathons? Did I go out too fast? Is this my last marathon? The way this race was going for me was similar to the Lubbock marathon. I started too fast and faded in the sun. I did not feel like I hit a wall though. I took 3 gels along the course, and that was enough energy for me. The race volunteers were hosing people down with water at every water stop. I normally would not want to get wet to avoid blisters and chaffing, but I did not mind it all this day. I was still passing people as the miles racked up. In past races, my calves would tighten up towards the end. Today it was a different story. Before the race, I bought some compression calf sleeves. I wore them for the first time on race day, and they felt great. I felt no fatigue or tightness in them during the race. You could see downtown Cleveland starting at mile 22.5. It felt so close, but yet so far away.

At mile 25, I drank some water and knew the finish line was so close. I got water at every water stop during the race to make sure I was well hydrated. I was hoping to get some kind of sports drink at a couple of the stops, but they had blueberry blast Powerade each time. I am not sure why they had that because that is a terrible flavor to drink during a race. At every stop at the end, I grabbed a cup hoping it was something else. Nope. As I started to see the crowd pick up, I felt a third wind come on and sprinted for the finish line. I was passing people left and right and felt fast for once. I crossed the finish line with a respectable time of 3:31:44. I told everyone my goal was to run under a 4 hour marathon, but secretly I wanted to PR. None of my miles were over a 9 min/mile pace. Given the amount of training I put in and the weather conditions, I was happy with my results.

When I finished the race, the temperatures were in the high 70's. That's definitely warm for me. They say when you are running, it feels 20 degrees warmer. Yikes. I drank a bottle of water and ate a popsicle after the crossing the line. I changed and got my finisher's beer. I am not a fan of Miller Lite, but today, it tasted so good. I was crunched on time so I ate some fish and chips at an Irish pub along the way to the ballpark and washed it down with a local beer. My seat was behind home plate which was awesome, and it was not expensive at all. +Amber McGee and I are a fan of Leininkugel's Summer Shandy. I got one at the ballpark, and it was so much better on draft especially on that warm day. I am pretty sure most beers are better on tap.

As of right now, I can officially say my race season is over. I have said that like three times in the last couple of months. I am sure Amber is happy to hear that. I will keep running my usual 100 miles each month. The Austin marathon entry fee has been taken care of so I assume that will be my next marathon. I have few races leading up to that in the fall.

Until next time, happy running.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Fill in the blank...

I am going to try to close the gap with this post. I ran the Austin Marathon back in February. Three months have gone by since then. After every marathon I have run, I get/feel depressed. I am on this high after the race that I do not want to come back down from. I love the feeling of racing and accomplishment. I wish I could bottle up that feeling. I always have an itch to run another marathon right away. Also after each marathon, I tend to put on a little bit of weight because I stop running as much.

For the month of March, I set a goal to run ten miles every day to avoid weight gain. On the second day of the month, the goal was put to the test. I heard a 5K was being put on in BCK (Big City Kyle, that's what +Amber McGee refers to our town). I looked up the results from last year and thought to myself that I could actually win this race. I am not a big fan of 5K's and 10K's because I am so used to running the longer distances, I do not know how to pace myself in the shorter races. I also do not think I am as fast in the shorter distances. Thinking I had a chance, I signed up for it. This was going to my second 5K race ever. At the beginning of the race, I thought I needed to hang with the leading pack and lay down the hammer at the end to win. When the race started, I had to avoid running over the kids who were also participating. They sprinted as far as they can and then ran out of gas. Right off the bat, there was a guy in front of me. I was like crap, I am going to have to work for this victory. I finally passed him around mile 2, and the only thing between me and the finish was a slight hill at the end. I love inclines and powered through it without any issues. I crossed the line first without any other runners in sight. I WON! I actually f-ing won a race with a time of 21:05. It was a pretty cool feeling. In between the finish of the race and the awards ceremony, I actually ran another seven miles to get my ten in for the day.

Waking up every day to run ten miles was tough. Some mornings I just wanted to stay in bed. One Saturday, I had to wake up at 5:30 am to get the run in because we had early SXSW plans. Because I won the 5K, I won a free month to Camp Gladiator. Camp Gladiator is an outdoor boot camp. So with that, running, and my usual pickup basketball games, my legs held up pretty well throughout the month. My IT band was a little bothersome in the beginning, but it got stronger as the days past. I finally made it to the end of the month without any major hiccups. I ended up running more miles than what Amber put on her car for the month of March.

In the month of April, I ran two more 5K's. I finished second in one of them and first in the other. I was a little bit disappointed on the second place finish because I was hoping I would win three races. After winning the second 5K, I was not that excited. It was cool that I won, but that was about it. I was not a fan of that race because a part of it was through a park on trails. Running on trails just eats up your energy. I think I am going to stick to running the longer races from now on.

After those races, I thought my racing season was over. I was wrong. One of my friends wanted to run a ten miler because she had just turned 30. She had actually run a half marathon before I did. Well on her last long run, she fell and hurt herself. I felt bad for her, but I was able to run for free under her bib (Thanks, Eileen). In the first part of April, I did not log that many miles. I guess my body was little bit tired from my mileage in March. I was not ready to race a longer distance. The race was Austin 10/20, and this was its' second year. The race is pretty flat and is held in the Domain area. Going into the race, I knew I could not set a personal record. I just went out and ran the entire race at a comfortable pace. It was overcast that day and a little humid, but other than that, it was good racing weather especially for April. I ended up running a respectable time of 1:13. You got a free beer at the end of the race which was pretty cool. I started a running group on Facebook with members all over the world last August. After the race, I met a few of them who lived in Texas.

What's next? Is my racing season officially over? I told you I was going to try to bridge the gap...

Until next time, happy running.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Round 3

Last time, I wrote about my disappointing results from my second marathon in September. Running is supposed to be fun and healthy. It was my point to make it feel that way. I did make a commitment to myself to not to run slower than a 9 minute mile anytime soon. There has been a lot of racing and running since then. I will now try to bring everyone back up to speed. This might end up being a novel so get ready.

I was not training with Rogue after the Panhandle Marathon (Lubbock, TX). I will be back though. Running can be an expensive sport. Training programs, race fees, multiple pairs of shoes, and apparel can add up pretty quick. I was just going to run/train on my own for the time being. I have been running on average 30-40 miles a week. I planned on ending my running season with the Austin Marathon. My wife and I had thought about moving, so I wanted to run that just in case we do end up leaving. I would have regret moving away without running the full here. I should have signed up for the Austin Distance Challenge because I ended up running 4 of the 6 races anyways.

On my 32nd birthday, I ran the Run for the Water 10 miler. It was a cool and brisk morning which is the perfect running weather. The course was a tad hillier than I thought it would be. When you run with Rogue, you run on streets you would have never run on otherwise. You get familiar with the streets and know where all of the “hills” are. Sometimes your memory fails you though. I went out a little too hard in the beginning because the hills came into play in the middle of the race. The hills felt like they were hiding at every turn. I love hills during training, but not on race day. I was glad once the course took us back to Lake Austin Blvd. Overall, I was happy running a 1:11. Every year, Red Lobster runs the Endless Shrimp promotion. So to honor my time, I ate 111 shrimps.

The Formula Run was not a part of the distance challenge, but I ended up running it because I won a pair of free entries. I brought my buddy Dave with me. We were fraternity brothers at Texas, and we trained and ran our first half marathon (2011 3M) together. The race was at the new Circuit of the Americas course. The race track setup is awesome, and facilities looked world class. I did not get tickets for the US Grand Prix which I was a little bummed about, but I will not miss out on it next year. The course length was a little bit over a 5K. I really do not like running short races. I have no idea how fast I can go for a short period of time. I do not even remember what my time was. Also when you “run a race with me,” I am more than likely to leave you. I am just too selfish and competitive when it comes to races. I feel like I only push myself really hard during race day. During training, I would push myself but never to my maximum potential.

In the month of December, I started to increase my overall mileage because the Austin marathon was only two months away. I started to increase my long run distance and started to incorporate speed and hill work into my running schedule. I used 3M Half Marathon to gauge how my “training” was going. Because I have lost quite bit of weight since running, I had a lot of clothes that did not fit. I had compiled a bunch of long sleeve button downs, perfect to wear to the starting line on cold mornings. It was f-ing cold the morning of 3M. I do not think I have ever raced in weather like that before. At times along the course, you had to run into a headwind, and that did not feel great. This was also the first time I ran a “long distance” race without fuel. I had some Gatorade along the course, but I had no gels or chews with me. My goal was to run an even pace throughout the race. The course was set up a little bit different when I ran it in 2011. The finish had a few more hills. I ended up with a time of 1:31, an 8 minute PR, so I was pretty happy with the results.

The Rogue 30K was coming, and I had no interest in it. I live in Kyle, and the race was in Cedar Park. That is a long drive early in the morning. I was now a full time Beef Team member which meant a portion of my race fees would be reimbursed. I saw that Rogue had a discount code for members, and then all of sudden, I was on board. I was bumping my long distance run by two miles each week. I was supposed to run 18 miles that week, so it just became a win-win situation. 30K is unknown racing distance for me. I did not want to push the pace too hard because the marathon was in three weeks. The plan was to meet up with another Rogue Manny at the start of the race, but I never saw him at the start. My friend Michelle was also running the race. I started the race with her, but left her pretty quickly. I always feel rude when I do this. She was doing all of the Austin Distance Challenge races so she can get her jacket. I wanted to keep the pace under an 8 minute mile because I had no idea what the course had in store for me. It was a really humid day. Once again, I forgo any fuel during the race. The course was also hillier than I expected. It was the story of my life. I kept a steady pace and finally ran into Manny during the run. I ran with him for a few miles and picked up the pace in the end. I finished with a time of 2:26. I really enjoyed the race and saw parts of Cedar Park I would never see otherwise. I think it is my new favorite distance. You would have to train a little bit for it, but nothing like you would do for a marathon. I run all the time so I feel like I would not need to train for a half marathon. It is like the perfect distance. I wish there were more 30K’s out there. Kudos to Rogue on the inaugural race.

I am typically a late registrant for races. I always think I will get hurt and wait till the last minute to register. I am okay with paying the extra cost as oppose to me losing out on money if I cannot make the race. For once, my procrastination paid off. The Austin Marathon was offering a buy one entry this year and get one free entry next year. Before the marathon, I only planned one 20 mile run. In my prior training, I would do 4-5. I felt crappy after the twenty mile run, and I also took no fuel again during the run. The confidence I had after the 30K was shattered. The following week I had a taper run, and race week was suddenly upon us. I ate out all week that week. Most people would advise against this. I wanted to change it up this time around. My throat felt weird on Valentine’s Day, and I felt like I was getting sick. I was like oh no, this cannot be happening. I knew I could not drink Saturday night so we went to happy hour at Moontower Saloon on Friday evening. It was co-owned by a fraternity brother. The place is pretty chill, but it is mostly outside. It was cold that night, and I forgot my jacket at home. I would love to go back once the weather is pretty.

On Saturday morning, I felt like crap. I was achy, coughing, running a fever, and had chills. I napped and watched Teen Mom 2 all day with my wife, +Amber McGee. I tried to keep it really low key and not over extend myself. I loaded up on Costco pizza and Wingstop’s wings for dinner. It took me awhile to fall asleep, but I got a solid six hours of sleep in.Cereal was my go-to breakfast on race days. Because I was sick on Saturday, we did not go to the store. Crap! We were out of milk. I ended up eating pancakes with syrup and Greek yogurt before the race. Lol. That is the breakfast of champions. I was feeling a little bit better this morning. After breakfast, Mother Nature was right on cue. You guys do not want to hear this, but I am glad I am regular. If not, my races could be literally crappy. Amber dropped me off near the finish line. She got me some Lululemon running shorts for Christmas so I was sporting those. They are awesome because they have a zipped pocket big enough for my iPhone and also side pockets too. I wish they had built in compression shorts though.

The race temperature was ideal. It was cool enough that I had to sport a button down to the starting line. I must have looked funny. My wife calls me a trickle runner. I am not fast so I finish behind the main pack of runners. I wanted to run around a 3:20, but there was no pace group for that. I just started a little behind a 3:25 group. I ran with a plastic water bottle to avoid the crowd at the first few water stops. I saw Ruth England, my Rogue coach, and Amber around mile 7. Because I ran the Austin Half last year, the first ten miles were pretty uneventful. I did eat a whole bag of chews within the first ten miles. I have been avoiding any fuel during my long runs so during race day, my body would hopefully treat the food as rocket fuel. When the half and full marathoners split, the vibe changed. My mentality at that point was all business. Right after the turn on to Enfield, it was an uphill climb. I was like what I am getting myself into; this is not going to be easy. The crawl along Exposition was tough, but I got a quick break when I had to stop at a port a potty. Going in, I knew the course was hilly, but I did not expect to see so many inclines.

My wife is awesome. She is always out there in whatever weather Mother Nature throws at her. I always tell her that she can stay home. I always appreciate it when she is out there supporting/cheering me on. I saw her again at mile 14, so I was able to get rid of my gloves and arm warmers. I sucked down a gel right after that. I took on some kind of liquid every water stop to insure I did not cramp. The run up Great Northern was not bad at all, but I did not expect to see anymore inclines expect for the ones on Duval and San Jacinto. I was wrong again. I ate one more gel around mile 20 and was gearing myself for the home stretch. I started to slow down a tad when I turned on to Duval. I struggled up any incline, but I was able to recover pretty well after the peak. I wanted to turn it up along Duval, but it never happened. My pace slowed down noticeably the last 2 miles. I just wanted to finish this thing. Walking crossed my mind a few times, but I am too mentally tough to succumb to do that. The last climb on San Jacinto was terrible. I felt like I was walking up it. I turned on to 11th and was able to give it little bit of gas towards the finish line. When I crossed the line, I was relieved. I ended up running a 3:24:09, a 7 minute PR. I was definitely happy with my result. The pace over the last few miles was never over a 9 minute mile. After races, I normally hit up a brunch buffet like Trudy’s or Iron Cactus. I was still sick so I thought a little soup would not hurt. We went to Pho Saigon, but it was nothing amazing. I have had better.

So what’s next? I might enter a local 5K in March, but my racing season is pretty much over. I will keep a 30 miles running week. I plan to start up with Rogue in September because I plan to do the Austin Distance Challenge next time. The entry fee for the Austin Marathon is already taken care of so that will probably be my next marathon. I hope one of my partners in crime, Cassundra, would get healthy again so she can push me. Amber and I have some big plans for the future so running marathons might take a backseat to that.

Until next time, happy running.

Friday, October 5, 2012

When faster is not enough...

No one ever said this would be easy. Running my first marathon is the easiest thing I have done at this point. I was about to run my second marathon, with a a different goal the second go around. My goal for my first was to finish under four hours and not walk any of it, and I ran a 3:35. My ultimate goal is to qualify for the Boston marathon, which at my age is a 3:05. Going into my second race, I thought could reduce the gap in half; anything less would be unacceptable.

I wanted to do the Panhandle Marathon in Lubbock because my wife’s family lives there, so it was killing two birds with one stone. I found out about the race at the end of April during the middle of my soccer season. I started to train at the end of May when soccer was over. My first time with Rogue I ran at a beginner level, and this time, I ran at an advanced level, cramming 800 miles into a four months period. Running 50 miles a week is definitely tougher than running 40; it is obviously a bigger time commitment. During training, I stayed relatively injury free. I had some inside knee pain on both legs. Icing them down helped a lot. I also developed this weird pain in my right foot that felt like I had jammed my pinkie toe. In August, we went on a no alcohol, white starches/breads, dessert, and cheese diet, and it definitely helped with training. I felt great. The only bad run I had during training was the 24 miler, but other than that, I had a lot of confidence going into the race.

We got to Lubbock on Thursday. When you are out of town, it is hard to eat healthy. I had lived in the Lubbock for a little bit so we ate at some of the familiar places. Lubbock has so many restaurants, and most of them are chains. On Friday, I was anxious to get the iPhone 5 that I had preordered and shipped to Lubbock. I was hoping I would not miss the UPS guy because if I had, the phones probably would have been reshipped to Austin. It finally came at 6pm after I waited around all day. I tried to keep Saturday low-key. I picked up my packet with our friend, Ginger. I am actually proud of her. She had never run further than a 5k, and I convinced her to run the half marathon. I can only imagine training for it with two kids when you are not a runner in the first place would be tough, but she did it. My wife and I then hung out with her mom, grilled out, and watched football. I actually took a nap during the visit. For some reason, I never napped after my long runs on Saturdays. I was always doing something. We went to check in at the hotel and met up with the Beef Team (a great group of people who love running and beef) for our pre race meal, then went to bed around 9:30.

Sleeping Saturday night was a struggle. It took a while to fall asleep, and I kept waking up. I got out about at 6am before the alarm would go off. I had a bagel, and Mother Nature was right on cue. The hotel was a mile away from the start line, so I walked there. I actually need the “warm-up” because my right hamstring was sore from kicking a football with Ginger’s kid, Hunter. The race started at 7:30 which I thought was kind of late. It was the inaugural race, and there were about 150 marathon runners. When the field took off, it spread out thin fast. There were a lot of turns within the first three miles, and right about then, I was running by myself. I had no music with me, so it was just the sound of my shoes hitting the pavement. It was a brisk morning, and I felt great in the beginning. I signed up thinking the race would be flat because Lubbock is so flat that if you stood on a penny, you could see Dallas or at least that is what they say.

Around mile eight, I made a quick pit stop and lost about forty seconds. In the first ten miles, the race included every hill in Lubbock. I did not even know these hills had existed. Thank goodness I train in Austin and attacked them with ease. For some reason during training, every time I see a hill, I always sped up it. It is speed work in disguise. When I finished the first half of the race, I was sitting at 1:35. I knew I was making good time. When I started the race, I had two packets of chews and three packets of gel. I tried Accel Gel for the first time, and I really liked it. The first 18 miles were pretty uneventful. The course took us through Mackenzie Park, Texas Tech, and Greek circle. Things started to go downhill at that point when my legs started to cramp. I had the same issues with cramping at the Houston marathon around the same mileage. However in Houston, I was able to turn it on the last six miles while I was trying to chase down Cassundra. This time I had no Cassundra, it was getting hotter, and I was starting to slow down. I feel like the sun is my kryptonite.

Around mile 21, I saw my wife. I had seen her a few times along the course, and it was good to see her out there supporting me. At this point, I thought about walking, but I did not want to let her I know I was hurting. The cramping and heat was getting to me. I almost cried thinking about how much work I put into the training, and I was blowing it on race day. The last five miles I kept thinking I could turn it on any second, but as the miles past, I was going slower. At mile 24, two people actually passed me. Normally I am the one passing people at the end. I finally crossed the line pissed off at 3:31. I told myself anything short of a ten minute PR would be disappointing. I somehow ended up finishing seventh, but I knew I could have done so much better. If I ran the race I had in mind, I could have finished fourth or fifth. Ginger finished her half before I finished. We were supposed to celebrate at brunch, so we went to Blue Mesa where I had a few mimosas. Later, we celebrated with some friends by shot-gunning beers in the front yard. Classy.

I have been mad at myself for the last week or so, but I am over it now. During the race, I thought about never running a marathon again, but I am ready to run another marathon. So what is next? I am planning to do the Run for the Water 10 miler for my birthday. I will probably run the 3M half with a 1:30 in mind, and have a little fun running the Austin marathon. All of us have goals in mind, but at the end of the day, running is supposed to be fun, healthy, and something we enjoy. So just go out there and run and do not worry about anything else.

Until next time, happy running.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Back for more!

Oh man, it has been a while. This post I promise will be not a novel, merely an update about my next chapter in my running “career.” Last time, I had recapped about the Austin half marathon, and since then I have only run one race, the Statesman Cap 10k, at a respectable 46:07. This was my first 10k race. It was very hot that day, and I also ran it without a running partner. My weekly mileage has also dropped off ever since the Houston marathon. I felt like I had lost some of my fitness level. At times during the race, I actually felt like stopping. Did I lose my passion for running?

After the race, I took a “break” from running. I was still running, but without a true purpose. I felt sort of lost. My goal for 2012 was to run 1k miles, but I was nowhere on pace. I was only running a few times a week to stay in shape. In January I ran 105 miles, 80 in February, 65 in March, and only 30 in April. It was a disturbing downward spiral. Amber and I did a lot of traveling in April, and most of my runs were in different cities. I was in Cleveland for work and ran in 40 degrees weather which felt awesome. I was able to sneak a couple of runs in Vegas. One run was colder and the other was warmer. The run in Baltimore felt like a nice brisk morning.

After the Houston marathon, I started doing a lot of weight training. I started putting on muscle weight and ended up 10 pounds heavier; I’m pretty sure my terrible diet plus my lack of running did not help. I also joined a soccer league. I have never played organized soccer, but I loved it. Sure I was not the best player, but on the field, I can run all day and could get to balls faster than most people. I stopped had playing basketball a month before the marathon to avoid getting injured, buyI have been playing basketball about 4 times a week as well.

When the Philly group was announced, I was slightly interested. It would be cool to train with familiar faces again and with Ruth as the coach. After my crazy travel month in April, I did not think we would able to swing a trip to Philadelphia. If we were going to go, we would have to make a vacation out of it. I thought about San Antonio, but considering what happened with the weather last year, I was not going to take my chances. Somehow I found out about the inaugural Panhandle Marathon in Lubbock, a place that I survived for three years and where my wife’s family still lives. As it’s something of a home away from home, it was a good pick.

The soccer season was not going to be over till Memorial Day weekend so I could not start with Ruth’s group until June. I had to build the mileage quickly. I went from running 4 miles the second week of May to 28 miles the following week. I am surprised my IT band was not bothering me as much. When I started marathon training last time, it was always sore. So going into the first week with Rogue this time, I ran 35 miles the previous week with the farthest long run of 10 miles.

My goal time coming into training is somewhere between a 3:35 (what I ran my only marathon at) and a BQ. We will see how training goes…

Until next time, happy running.