Saturday, January 31, 2009

Rockets 5K - 2nd Overall!

I ran a great race today and finished in 16:12 and came in 2nd overall. Bill who trains with the Kenyan Way program with me won in 16:01. This was a post-college 5k PR for me. I went into the race hoping to be able to run 16:15, but I didn't know if I would be able to or not. I'm in good shape from all the marathon training I've been doing, but I really haven't done any speedwork geared towards 5k or 10k training recently. The closest thing I did was a 10 x 800 workout with 1 minute rest between each 800 at a 2:39 average. I wanted to try to run about 5:15 pace for each of the first 2 miles and then see what I had left. It seemed like in a lot of the 5k's I ran last year I would take it out too hard and hit a pretty good 2 mile time, but then I would really struggle coming in the last mile.

The weather ended up being really nice. It was in the low 50's and sunny. The race started a few minutes late, but it gave me time to do a couple extra strides and stretch a little more. When the gun when off, a ton of high school looking guys took it out hard. I went through the first mile in 5:12 and was right on pace where I wanted to be. There were one or two guys who had a small lead and I was in a pack of about 8 -1 2 guys. Shortly after mile 1, we made a couple of quick turns and started heading back into downtown. At this point, I moved up into about 4th place. Bill was a couple seconds ahead and in 2nd place. The guy who was leading looked like he started to fade and Bill took the lead somewhere around the halfway point. I passed the guy who had been leading and took 3rd. The other guy in the lead pack stayed right on Bill's tail for about 1/2 a mile and started to fade a little. I caught him right around mile 2 and I passed mile 2 at 10:25 so I was right on pace. I felt really good after two miles. I was relaxed and felt like I was running pretty smooth and would be able to finish strong. I gradually pulled away from the 3rd place guy and was all alone in 2nd. Bill had put about 8 - 10 seconds between me and him and it was just too much of a gap to close when he wasn't slowing down at all. I really didn't feel like I was laboring until we had about 600 meters left, but I was close enough to the finish to just push it in hard. I pretended it was my last 800m interval in my 10 x 800 workout and it was time to push it in hard. The race went down a tunnel into the Toyota center and we finished on the basketball court. I really wasn't looking at my watch or thinking about time until I got onto the court and was kicking it in the last 20 meters and saw the clock was under 16:15. At the awards, they announced my time as 16:12.5.

After the race I didn't really feel that tired. It was almost as if I could have run harder, but I'm not really sure where I could have picked it up during the race because I never felt like I had an extra gear. I'm really happy with my time considering I haven't been doing any speedwork and that is a great start to the year. Unfortunately I really won't be doing much speedwork for the shorter races until after the Boston Marathon and the weather is going to be much warmer for all of the late spring and summer races. The time I ran today is 25 seconds faster than my best 5k time from last season. After the race today, I'm very confident I can get under 16:00 sometime this year. I don't remember my exact 5k PR from college but I think it was either 15:48 or 15:51 and those times are definitely within reach.

I got a trophy for finishing 2nd, and I thought maybe they would give the top winners 2 or 4 Rockets tickets to a game, but they didn't give us anything else. I did read on the website that they are supposed to recognize the top 3 overall finishers on the court during a timeout of the Rockets game on Feb 3. I guess we'll see if they contact me or if anything comes of that.

I'm off to play some video games and grab lunch at Chick-Fil-A. My prediction for the Superbowl tomorrow is Cardinals win 31-24.

Friday, January 30, 2009

2 loops easy at the park

I missed my Thursday run so I did a little over 6 miles today. I had intended to run at lunch yesterday, but I was involved in a meeting that went a lot longer than I anticipated that I had needed to be there. I thought I would leave about 10:00 or 10:30. but I ended up needing to stay to the end and they brought lunch in and the meeting went until 12:30. I had a dinner I had to be at after work that started at 6:30 so I didn't have time to run after work either.

I had the day off today, but it was too cold to get up and run in the morning so I waited until it was warmer in the afternoon. I did my regular run to the park do two loops and run back home which is right at 6.4 miles. I was kind of bored during the run today so I started counting things. First I counted 1000 steps I took while I was running, but that got kind of boring too. Then I decided to count how many steps I took in a 1/4 mile and it was 306. Then I decided to count how many cars went by on the mile long stretch of the trail along Memorial Dr and I counted exactly 300. I did my 6.4 miles in 46:10 which averages out to a 7:12 pace.

I'm planning on doing the Rockets 5k tomorrow if I get there early enough to register before the race. My goal is to run a sub 16:15. I'm not sure what kind of 5k shape I'm in right now. I've got a great base built up from all the marathon training and I think a 5:15 pace is doable. The weather looks like it should be pretty good for the race. I'd really like to run a sub 16:00 5k sometime this year, but I'm not sure if I'll get enough 5k speedwork in with my Boston marathon training and it's tough to run real fast in the summer 5k's when it is 80 degrees out.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

6 Mile Run

I felt great today. This is my first run this week where my leg muscles didn't get sore or I didn't feel like I was working hard to maintain pace the last couple of miles. I went out for a run at lunch on a 6 mile route up in the woodlands near my office. I checked the weather before I headed out and it was 43 degrees out with a windchill of 38. Fortunately I packed a long sleeve shirt in my bag before I left this morning. It was a little frigid the first mile and my hands were freezing. It wasn't so bad in the sun, but it got chilly in the shade. I've run this route with my Garmin before, but there are several different paths I can take the first mile and I don't remember exactly where each mile is at. There are a couple points on the run where I usually check my watch out and can use as a reference for how fast or slow I am running. The first two miles were at an average pace and I was feeling pretty good and finally getting reasonably warm. About midway through the run I was wishing I had just worn the long sleeve shirt only instead of it on top of my short sleeve shirt. At about mile 4 I was cruising and took off the long sleeve shirt only to get a blasted by the wind about 30 seconds later. I was cruising the rest of the way in and felt strong the last couple of miles. Sometimes I wonder if I should do more runs on routes without mileage markers or without the Garmin so I'm not always worrying about my pace. I finished the 6 miles in 40:40. I was really tempted to go out and run about 12 400's to get myself used to running with some speed again, but I'm trying not to do anything dumb and make sure that I am fully recovered from the marathon.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ultimate Frisbee Day

Instead of a regular run today I played Ultimate frisbee with a group of guys from work. It's about a 3/4 mile jog over to the field we play it. It's a nice activity to break up the monotony of a lot of easy runs this week since I'm not doing any speed workout and sprinting up and down the field a few times helps get in some strides. I should be back to running tomorrow.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Another Easy Day

I did another 2 laps of memorial park after work. My legs definitely felt better today than my previous two runs. It was about 65 degrees and a little muggy out. I actually really like training in relatively warm weather, but I hate racing in it. The run was pretty uneventful. I enjoy running at night under the lights at the park, especially when you can see a few stars or the moon out. The park was fairly crowded for a Monday evening. The last couple of miles my legs were feeling a little tired, but it wasn't too bad. I ran the 6.4 miles route in 45:30 which is just over a 7:00 pace.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Easy Run

After yesterday's quick run, I just needed something nice and easy.  I headed out about 5:30 pm to run two loops at Memorial Park.  My leg muscles didn't feel quite as sore as yesterday, but I was a little tired and not real motivated.  I ran 6.4 miles in 47:50 which works out to just under 7:30 pace.

The plan is still to take it easy and run the Rockets 5k this weekend.  I was looking at last year's results and I should have been able to get 3rd overall if I had run last year.  Who knows who will show up this year?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

First post marathon run

I finally made it out for my first post-marathon run.  After the marathon I didn't have any injuries but my legs were pretty sore the first couple days after the race, especially my quads.  On Monday and Tuesday I was shuffling up and down the stairs like an old man.

I planned on going out and doing about 8 miles at 7:00 -7:15 pace if my legs felt ok.  It was about 52 degrees out and a bit breezy.  Since it was the first run since the marathon and I was running at the park, I had to wear my marathon finisher's shirt today.  It was a little chilly so I was running at a fairly brisk pace the first mile trying to warm up.  My legs still felt a little sore from the race, but nothing too uncomfortable.  I settled into a pretty steady pace of just under 7:00/mile and I was content to knock out the run at that pace.  About 3 miles in, I passed a guy who picked up the pace to stay with me.  We were about 1/2 a mile from the start/finish area near the tennis center and I figured the guy was just kicking it in.  After he stayed with me for a while he asked me what pace I was running and I told him I was doing 6:55 or 7:00.  Usually I turn around at the tennis center and do a lap in the opposite direction but the guy I was with said he had another mile to go so I decided just to keep running with him since it took a little monotony out of the run.  Somehow in his last mile, we managed to pick up the pace from 6:57 to 6:41.  He peeled off at his car and I had about 3 miles to go.  I hate slowing down and I was feeling pretty fresh so I just kept up the same pace and ran the rest of the run at about 6:35 pace.  I finished the 8 miles in 54:20 which works out to about 6:47 pace.  I was a little sore and tired at the end of the run but I was happy to get out there and knock out a good run.

I plan to keep it fairly easy this coming week and not do any speedwork.  I might run the Rockets 5k next Saturday if I feel ok this week.  Then it's on to getting my mileage back up and getting ready for the Boston Marathon

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Marathon Results

At least I finished. That pretty much sums up my day. 3:03:20. My 2nd fastest marathon ever. My slowest completed marathon ever.

Last year I had run the Houston marathon in 2:47:24 and my goal was to go under 2:45 and hopefully under 2:43. My training really went well this year and I felt like I was in better shape than last year. I was running faster times on some of the hard workouts, I PR’d in a 10 mile race in November, and I felt a lot stronger on my long runs this year compared to last year. Based on my 10 mile time, one race calculator told me that I could run a 2:40, but I didn’t want to go for that and crash and miss out on breaking 2:45. My goal was to hit the halfway point at about 1:22 (~6:15 pace) and if things were going well, run a negative split and go under 1:21 (~6:10 pace) for the second half.

Unfortunately the weather forecast shifted a few days ahead of the race from being absolutely ideal to being on the warm side, but tolerable. Of course Sunday morning, it was even a few degrees warmer and the starting temp was about 60 degreees which is 10 – 15 degrees warmer than what I would consider ideal. I would rather it be in the upper 30’s or low 40’s than 60+, but you have to take what nature hands you. I contemplated being smart and dropping my first half pace to about 6:25/mile and then trying to pick it up to 6:10 pace in the 2nd half of the race which would still get me in about 2:45, but it would basically take a 2:43 out of play. As I sat on the toilet at 5:15 am contemplating my race strategy, I figured that the pace calculator said I could run a 2:40 marathon so I really was backing off a little from that so I didn’t need to slow my pace any more. Once you already have an answer in mind, it isn’t really that hard to come up with a reasonable justification. Mistake #1.

I got a good starting position and hit my first mile in 6:20 which is exactly where I wanted to be. I wore my garmin and heart rate monitor and I was a little concerned the first 4-5 miles how high my heartrate was. Last year it started off lower and then gradually built up. About mile 6 it finally dropped about 4 bpm back to a level I was a little more comfortable with and I decided it was probably early race nervousness and anxiety that was making it run high and I didn’t need to slow my pace down. Mistake #2. At mile 6, I was right at a 6:15 pace and not having any trouble knocking out 6:15 miles. I grabbed a bottle of Gatorade when I passed my wife at mile 7 and drank that over the next 3/4 of a mile. Since it was warm and I was worried about losing too much sodium and electrolytes, I was drinking more Gatorade than I usually would get on my training runs. At all the early aid stations, I was drinking mostly Gatorade and I was grabbing something at every aid station and I never drank that often during my training. Mistake #3. I didn’t want to get dehydrated and start cramping or run out of energy and bonk.

Just before the aid station at mile 10, I ate my first energy gel and grabbed 2 cups of water as I ran through the aid station to chase it down with. I was still feeling decent and hitting 6:15’s. I was with about 5 other guys and over the next couple miles we dropped a couple of them, but started slipping to 6:17 – 6:20/mile pace. I hit the halfway point at 1:22:10 and I felt like I still had a shot at hitting 2:45, but unless I got a second wind and was able to pick it up at the end, I was worried that my 2:43 goal was slipping away.

One of the biggest hills in the course is in mile 15 and one of the guys I was with pulled a little bit ahead. I let him go on the uphill because I was saving my energy for when I got to the top of the overpass and I figured I would catch him on the downhill. He kept pushing on the downhill and I never caught back up to him. I stayed just a few seconds behind him and was still running with another guy for the next mile or so. I saw my wife again a little before mile 17 and grabbed another bottle of Gatorade, a cap (to keep the sun out of my eyes) and another energy gel. I told her I thought I probably was going to miss my 2:45 by a minute or two because my legs were starting feel tired and I had slipped down to 6:20 – 6:25 pace at this point. I ate my energy gel and started chasing it with my Gatorade. Mistake #4. I would have preferred to have water to chase it with, but I didn’t have any right there and the next aid station wasn’t for another 2/3 of a mile. I made it about 1/4 of a mile past where I ate the gel and my stomach said no thanks. I stopped in the middle of the road and started puking. A couple guys who passed me while I stopped asked if I was ok and a police officer came over to check on me. I said I was fine and after about 4 nice heaves, my stomach was cleared out and I started running again. I still had about 1/2 of my bottle of Gatorade so I drank that to try to get some fluid back in me. I was pretty worried about getting dehydrated after I saw how much liquid had come back out of me. I lost about 40 seconds, but I got back to under 6:30 pace after I started running again. I felt ok through mile 19 and I thought I still might be able to get 2:45 at that point because I was convincing myself that I was still going to be able to pick it up the last few miles going back into downtown. I’ve run dozens of training runs and races over that finishing stretch and I was mentally prepared to finish strong.

After about mile 19, things really started going downhill. My legs really started feeling tired and my hamstrings were starting to tighten up on me and I felt like I was starting to get a little dehydrated. Between the sun beating down and throwing up, I felt like I was kind of fighting a losing battle on the hydration front. My left sock also got a little bunched up under the ball of my foot and was pretty uncomfortable. I knew my wife would be meeting me again between mile 21 and 22, so I kept pushing through the pain until I got to her. I was down to about 6:40 pace and any illusions of a 2:45 were gone by now and I was just hoping to get in below 2:50. My hamstrings were really hurting and part of me wanted to just throw in the towel at that point, but this was the 3rd marathon I had attempted and I didn’t want 2 DNF’s in 3 tries. I stopped for about 3 minutes to stretch out my hamstrings and adjust my sock and try to refocus. While I was sitting on the curb stretching, Bill, one of my running partners went by. It was his first marathon and he was shooting for a 2:49. I told my wife I had given up hitting a good time, but I was going to finish the race. I had one more energy gel so I took it and drank some Gatorade and started down the road again. My hamstrings were still killing me and I saw a medical tent about 1/2 a mile down the road so I stopped by to see if they could help me out. They massaged out my hamstrings and stretched me out for about 6 minutes. I saw a ton of people go by, but I wasn’t really concerned with time anymore and I just wanted to be able to finish without having to walk most of the last 4 miles. My legs weren’t really feeling too much better so they rubbed a bunch of icy hot on my hamstrings and that did the trick. The pain was gone and so I took off again and I figured with all the rest I had gotten in the past mile, I could probably knock out the last 4 miles in 25 – 26 minutes and pass a bunch of the people that had gone by me.

I passed mile 22 and made it about a 1/4 of a mile and then my stomach had other ideas. I started puking again and cleaned out my stomach. I didn’t have any energy gels left or Gatorade with me which was probably a good thing at this point. My hamstrings were feeling good so I started up again and made it to the next water stop at mile 23. I decided to drink mostly water and I would stop and walk through the water stop instead of running through since my time was shot. I really wasn’t even looking at my watch anymore at this point. I made it to the finish without any other issues and crossed the line in 3:03:20. I was 16 minutes off my time from last year and I was kind of disappointed I didn’t break three hours, but I was relieved to be finished. I figured that with throwing up a couple of times and having about 10 minutes worth of stops to deal with my tight and cramping hamstrings, I was ok with just finishing. I checked my Garmin after the race and I was able to stay under 7:00 pace the entire race where I was actually running and not stopped for some reason or another.

Here’s a few key things that I learned. I really need to back off on my goal pace when it is warm. I think my biggest problem was that I was drinking too much extra Gatorade because I was concerned about losing electrolytes. The Gatorade and energy gels didn’t agree with my stomach and it was all downhill from there. If I drank water instead of Gatorade at most of the water stops, I might have been ok. I think all of the sugar and electrolytes from the Gatorade and energy gels upset my stomach. I think I was getting too much fluid in my stomach. I don't think I would have cramped up or started getting dehydrated if I hadn't thrown up. During my training runs, I would go at least 3 miles between water stops and I was getting something every mile and a half. I think I am also going to try to experiment with the clif shot blocks instead of a gel on my training runs and see how that goes. I’ve never had stomach issues or problems on the shorter races. I’m running Boston in April so hopefully I will get things sorted out by then so I can challenge Ryan Hall for the title or at least go under 2:45.