Monday, March 12, 2012

From Houston to Austin to…

I promise this entry will not be a novel this time. After my first marathon, I was on a running high. I wanted to run the Austin full marathon. My coach, Ruth, advised against. I figured with all of my training that I have done, I would be easy to keep up the mileage and run Austin with a simple goal of finishing under 4 hours. My partners in crime, Cassundra and Manny, were doing the half. So with a little of hesitation, I signed up for the half marathon. I knew with running half, I did not need to keep a 40+ miles running week. I scaled everything back and was running about 20 miles over 4 days a week. Some of the runners from Team Veggie joined the advanced 10k group, but I was not interested in running as much after the marathon. I know it builds speed, but I will find a way to improve my speed in the future. It could be me being stubborn thinking I can do it on my own, but we will see.

The last month of marathon training I had scaled back extracurricular activities. I normally play basketball at work during lunch. I stopped that just in case I got hurt for some reason. With the race over, I started playing basketball again. The running definitely has helped with my speed and stamina. My game was off when I got back so it has been frustrating. When marathon training started, I only had time to lift weights once a week for about 30 minutes. Without the strict schedule or the time constraint, I am now able to lift weights twice a week for an hour each time. I have always wanted to be jacked, but as a runner, is that possible?

The time between the Houston marathon and the Austin half marathon felt like forever. I guess I like the feeling of racing because you get a sense of ccomplishment. Good thing I did not thoose to run the full. I started to lose interest in running just a little bit before the race. Going into the race, my only half time was 3M in 2011 where I ran a 1:58. I knew that I could beat that easily. I wanted to run a 1:30, but I figured I was out of my mind. I met Cassundra, Manny, and another Rogue, Becky at Rogue at 6 am. We warmed up by running to the start line. I got a pace band from Ruth to run it under 1:45, but I knew I was going to leave the throttle wide open. It was a cooler morning so it was great race weather. I was once again sporting my Beef Team shirt. One of these races I will finally wear a Rogue shirt.

We started off running an 8 minute pace. It felt fast, but great on my legs. It was definitely crowded even though we started out in the 3:20 pace group. I saw my wife at mile 2. It is awesome that she shows up to the race to support me although I tell her she does not have to. I do not recall that Congress Avenue is a gradual incline. I started to pick up the pace and left my running buddies around mile 4. I was thinking uh oh. I am on my own at this point. Cassundra caught up with me around mile 7. She is a great partner although I secretly think she is faster. We always have a good pace going when we run together. We passed through the Beef Team cheering section around mile 8 which was cool. I saw my wife again with our friend, Lauren, at the turn in front of city hall. The Livestrong section
along Cesar Chavez was awesome. I love it when the crowd provides energy to the race. We made a quit pit stop shortly after. After that, there was a steady climb towards Mopac. I was not a big fan of that. I was starting to feel sluggish. I was thinking to myself, was I out of shape?

Along the feeder of Mopac, I was like this sucks. It was a little hilly, and I was starting to doubt myself of my time. Cassundra started to pull away somewhere along Enfield. I ran by a supporter who said in a very monotone voice, “Make this race your bitch.” I laughed out loud and heeded her advice. The “big” hill at Lamar was not big at all. I raced past everyone up the hill and even passed Cassundra. At the top, I was like I should be able to coast to the
big finish along San Jacinto. It was nothing like that. You had to deal with a few more hills before San Jac. At that point, my claves started to tighten up. I was like this is the worst timing.

Cassundra and I were side by side when I decided to sprint with 800 meters left. With about 400 meters left, my calves tighten up even more, and I laid off the gas just enough for her to finish a second ahead. One of these days I will get her. My time was 1:39:44. It was an 18 minute personal record, not bad at the end of the day. I also learned that I am pretty decent hill runner. I, however, was disappointed with the crowd support. It was thinned out and not very loud. Houston’s crowd was absolutely incredible. I fed off the energy.

I have one more race before I am done running races for the season. I did not plan to do the Capitol 10K because it is so crowded, but my half marathon time was good enough to qualify for an earlier wave so I went ahead and registered. I am starting to replace my Saturday long runs with soccer. I figured with all the running I do, it can help me with my stamina, and I think soccer can help with my speed a little bit. What’s after that? I know I will run a marathon in the fall or winter. Where is the question? I like Ruth a lot as a coach so I might end up with whatever group she will be with. At the start of this whole running process, I never thought I would say this- I want to qualify for Boston. It is probably going to take either a few more races or for me to get older to jump into the next age group. I might have to get to Cassundra to try to run a 3:10 one of these days. LOL. I think it would be an awesome experience to run Boston.

Until next time, happy running.