I’m running in this pic down MLK Blvd which separates the UT campus from the Texas Capitol complex. I beat all of those 20 year old kids you see behind me, except for Bradley Stocky – the 47 year old man dressed in black in the left of this picture. I beat his clock time by 5 seconds, but he beat my chip time by 2 seconds; which is to say he crossed the starting line 7 seconds behind me. I ran the first half about a minute faster but he must have had me in his sights the last few miles. He certainly kicked it in stronger than I did running that final quarter mile down MLK to the finish. I did let up a little bit the last hundred yards because I don’t like to finish too out of breath. This race was a week ago but I’m posting the picture in recognition of MLK day.
I drove my brother’s
Toyota Tundra around town while down in Texas for 4 weeks and was always refueling at $50 a pop. Despite its 20 gallon tank, gas guzzlers like that are always running on empty. And that works as a metaphor to describe me during my last week in Texas. Work busted my balls and I missed running on Tuesday and Wednesday. I was able to follow up the half marathon on Sunday with 7 miles on Monday and I thought that was going to be it for the week. Work was weighing heavy on me and I wasn’t sure today would ever come. Then someone at work said some nice things to me that picked me up and re-energized me. Suddenly I was looking forward to my Thursday and Friday meetings and squeezed in runs both days. I was even in good spirits watching Lance own up to Oprah – tragic as that story is.
Not sure where this second picture was taken. My gloves are off so definitely after 4 miles. I’m guessing between 7 and 8 miles, likely where we turned off Shoal Creek onto 45th Street. If it looks like Suzanne is passing me here, I can tell you two things. First, she is half my age. Second, I beat her by nearly a half minute. More likely this is where I passed her. I was cutting corners everywhere. I like the way we both leaned into this curve though. That’s racing a half marathon at a 7:23 pace.
I saw my time at 9 miles and did the math. I was going to finish under my 1:45 goal – a PR in a half marathon. In fact I knew I could slow down a bit and still finish under 1:45. But my stretch goal of 1:40 was within reach if I maintained my pace. And I knew I felt good enough to maintain my pace without question. But like recognition for doing a good job, feedback like this motivated me. I sped up a little more. Marginally, but I picked it up. With 3 miles left, a pack of runners surged from behind me and I matched their pace. We surged again with 2 miles remaining on Duval and yet again in the hills of the UT campus. I finished strong and a good 3 minutes under my stretch goal.
I took that momentum into a tough work week. I started out the week with a big agenda and a plan to check off action items like miles in a race. I stumbled early on but got picked back up by a buddy and finished strong.
It was a good 3 weeks with my mom. She’s doing well. She learned both the iPad and apps on Windows 8. Not that she didn’t bitch about Windows but who doesn’t. The mind is still sharp. Fixin’ to board my flight home tomorrow. Going to see Django tonight at the Alamo Draft House to recharge and hit the road running again next week.
Woke up at zero dark thirty to a cold Austin for the 6:45am start to this half marathon. Can’t complain considering the temperature back home is closer to zero° and ice. This wouldn’t be bad running weather if not for the 15 mile an hour wind that makes 40° feel like 33°. I loaded my gear bag with tons of dressing options – expecting to wear the gloves – and dry clothes to change into after the finish for breakfast.
In terms of expectations, I know I’m not in the same shape I was in at the end of 2012, but I was hoping to run under an 8 minute pace. Since my return to road races I have yet to do that in a half marathon. I generally just run these things like any other workouts but woke up today feeling a bit edgy. I think it might be from hooking up with a college buddy, Kenneth Hausmann last week to watch a bowl game. Ken has an awesome house on Lake Austin. Oddly enough I think he’s more into his houseboat. His funniest joke of the night was when he said he should probably have it insured as he gave me a tour. Ken owns a Farmers Insurance agency.
Ken’s wife Debbie made us a nice dinner and I met his youngest daughter Mia whom they adopted from China. She’s totally deaf but can hear fine due to some amazing technology that incorporates implants and magnets. Mia looks as happy as she is beautiful. Part of my tour included Ken’s trophy collection. Apparently while I was raising kids and building a career, Ken squeezed in twenty years of road runs. He’s run Boston several times and has never missed the Capitol 10K. When I say he has a mountain of trophies, I mean he has hundreds piled up on a workbench in his garage. Some are traditional trophies, others are medals, or plaques, or plates – even a couple of dog bowls. Many of them 1st place. And all I’ve thought about since is how cool it would be to run a half marathon time today – in Ken’s backyard – that will make him feel slow and old. Because we’re friends.
Fortunately it never rained. The only cold part of this event was standing around before the start. Because my brother dropped me off, I only had to stand around for a half hour or so. Steve also shot some video around ten miles in front of the Hyde Park Bar & Grill. I wore two shirts, neither heavy, but covered with my North Face shell to break the wind. I also wore a pair of running tights that are thin enough to wear in the summer, some gloves and a runner’s hat. I would say I geared up perfectly. I pocketed the gloves after four miles, and I would have been fine without tights – but they made the start much more comfortable.
Every two miles displayed a pace clock and I appeared to be running on target for an 8 minute per mile pace. I typically like to warm up with a 9 minute pace for the first few miles, but my goal to break 1:45 would require starting out faster and holding it. My stretch goal was 1:40 and my fantasy was 1:30. A boy can dream. But even the 1:45 would be a PR and would require some racing tactics. Starting out slow is smart for warming up, but presents a risk if I don’t have the energy or drive to pick it up. Starting out too fast risks building up lactic acid and not being able to recover from oxygen debt.
I lined up behind the 1:45 pace group and suspect I passed both them and the 1:40 pace sign in the first mile when it was too crowded to notice. The wind was in our faces the first half mile but wasn’t noticeable as we turned east on Kramer. There were only a few short streets later in the race where we ran into head winds and it was never a big deal. I don’t think a 15 mph wind has a big impact on time but it would have made today colder if we were running into it. I do suspect the 400 foot drop in elevation over the 13 miles is helpful. Not to the point it affects the course’s USATF legitimacy, but it sure beats a 400 foot elevation gain. The combination of the elevation drop and the wind at our backs likely lead to a number of runners doing well. I don’t know my official chip time yet but the clock said 1:37. We ate breakfast at one of my favorite Austin eateries – Kerbey Lane. Not a bad way to start a new year of running.
Seriously. Two days of non-stop rain. Today was great (although I didn’t run) and tomorrow should be awesome too, but then it will rain again for the weekend – during the 3M Half Marathon. And it will be cold – around 40°. Bummer. This pic is at the east end of the Brushy Creek Regional Trail after a 6 mile run Wednesday. The trail was flooded throughout my run like the water you see behind me. The ground is pretty saturated around here. Worse, the mold count is high.
My brother will drive me to the race start which is cool because it’s located 13 miles away from the race finish and this over-priced event doesn’t provide transportation. My suggestion to them is to use their gear bag buses to drive runners from the finish to the start. Runners could park at the finish, take the bus to the start, leave their gear in the bus, and run the course back to where they parked their car. But what do I know?
I’m hoping to buy some inserts at the race expo on Friday or Saturday because my racing flats don’t have any inserts of any kind in them currently. I could transfer the inserts from my training shoes if necessary. Race start is early – at 6:45 am Sunday. Breakfast will be around 10am at either Magnolia Cafe on Lake Austin Boulevard or Kerbey Lane Cafe on Kerbey Lane.
Ran 56 miles so far this week, some on Town Lake but mostly on the Brushy Creek Regional Trail. Much of it in the Texas rain. That’s a really good week of mileage for me considering this is winter. Haven’t been doing weights or situps; I did try one day but they hurt. First trick is to establish my routine, then I can enhance it with calisthenics. One more week of prep before running the Austin 3M Half Marathon on Sunday the 13th.
Not sure how well I’ll do but would like to push myself a bit. I’ll have been in Texas for 3 weeks at that point so my blood will have lost most of its high altitude benefits. At least I’ve always been told it takes about 3 weeks for the cardiopulmonary system to acclimate to altitude changes. That’s to start to adapt, maybe 6 weeks to fully acclimate. But all I ever really read on the topic is to adjust to higher altitude. I know it’s critical to hydrate and vitamins are smart. I’m just assuming it takes a similar amount of time to lose the conditioning.
It’s a funny thing anyway. At sea level, you can run harder and faster. Very curious to understand training techniques for adapting to lower altitude. I suspect speed workouts, fartleks, repetitions on the track are all advisable. I’m even thinking of running an asynchronous pace in the 3M Half – fartlek style. There’s really not that much time to train so why not do it in the run itself? I’ll start out controlled (slow) and rather than smoothly unwinding I might over pace myself, then recover with a slower pace, and repeat. That will likely annoy other runners pacing with me. They can suck it, I’m in an experimental mood. And it won’t be easy to pull off. I’m gambling that my conditioning is good enough to be able to recover from oxygen debt after each fast pace run.
I am somewhat concerned on how much situps hurt when I tried some the other day. My core is feeling like it did when I had arthritis. I’ll be bummed if it returned. If I have to get another steroid shot, despite what I might have said in previous blog posts on the topic, I think I’ll opt for the anesthesia next time. Taking a shot from a needle bigger than Dallas in a hip joint isn’t something I care to ever experience again.
A little word on the pic above. It’s from the 2010 Austin Marathon – which I ran in 2011. This pic still works for me as it symbolizes running in Austin and it’s free. I don’t see any good graphics from the 3M Half Marathon which I’ll be running next weekend. Sort of disappointing considering their outrageous registration fee. The Boulder Marathon prints up cool posters too. Cool enough like this one to frame and hang on the wall. 3M better at least have some good swag.