Friday, November 25, 2011

Another Milestone - 2011 Dallas YMCA Turkey trot

      I took the train downtown and arrived at the Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot around 7:30 am.  Hung around the Community Coffee stand trying to warm myself up with coffee.  The weather was very chilly around 45 degrees and foggy. So foggy that you couldn't see past maybe the 20th floor on most of the skyscrapers downtown.  I hung around there for a few and ran into Cynthia, a good buddy of mine who was running the 5K.  We shivered and chatted for a minute or two over coffee. Then around 8:15 I noticed the crowd thickening and figured I'd better make my way to the start line.  As I weaved my way to the front of the crowd who most was warming up to the music that the DJ was playing, one of Dallas' Finest at the far barricade spotted me and noticed I had a blue bib on which means I'm a timed runner.  She summoned me to come through the barricade since I was timed.  I didn't know that the timed runners had that privilege.  I was able to walk right up to the start line.  I wish I had known that last year.  After a couple minutes, one of my runner buddies, Vonnie from the Dallas Runners Club (DRC) tapped me from behind.  I was happy to see her because I had gotten to be lonely standing there by myself.  Everything was perfect so far, the weather, the atmosphere... except one thing.  I had to go to the restroom.   Badly.  Vonnie suggested since I still had about 25 minutes before the start of the race I make a run for it but I decided to just tough it out.  I could probably hold it for the entire 8 miles.  Uhh... no.
      As soon as the race started, I had issues.  My aunt loaned me a fanny pack which I put my belongings in but it was flopping everywhere and on top of that I was really needing to relieve myself.  Vonnie was a few steps ahead of me and I was trying to keep up with her while fumbling around with the strap on my pack attempting to tighten it but unsuccessfully.  The good thing was I didn't have to worry about running around walkers like last year.  About 2 miles in I spotted a port-o-potty, so I dove in and figured I would give myself a maximum of 1 minute to take care of my business and adjust my wardrobe.  After I was done with that I shot out of there like a torpedo.  I  thought could see Vonnie way up the street thanks to her hot pink shirt that she had on.  So I set out to catch her.  That never happened.  I forgot how she was always at the front of the pack in our DRC training runs and often on the verge of leaving us behind.  After about mile 3 she was out of sight.  I knew this route had a couple of crazy hills, so I decided to prepare myself mentally to be ready for those.  Run and race experience helped me today.  When I got to those hills, I tackled them with ease, passing a lot of other runners who were gassed and walking. I got recovery on the downside of the hills. After the Jefferson Street Viaduct hill (mile 7), I noticed that this race was about to be over with very quickly.  Last year's race seemed like forever.  At that time I remembered that I said I would take it easy in this race, but my competitive instincts had kicked in.  So much for that.  I run 8 milers for breakfast now.
     I ended up officially with a 1:10:29 finish and an 8:41 average pace compared to last year where I finished in 1:22:25 a 10:10 pace.  Of course last year was the very first race I had ever run in, so I didn't know what to expect.  Next weekend, the White Rock Half Marathon.  I hope I can duplicate this effort.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I have it all figured out! I think...

     So I am now 21 days away from the Dallas White Rock half which earlier this year I declared as my personal "Super Bowl" race. At the time I couldn't decide whether or not I would do a half or a full.  I ended up registering for the half. I'll come back to that in a second.
     Joining the Dallas Running Club was the best thing I could ever done.  I think I've probably said that some 10 times already.  I was so raw before and unorganized with my runs.  I had somewhat of a weekly schedule but I wasn't varying the types of runs I did.  By the time I had joined the DRC I had already built myself up during the grueling summer in North Texas, where nighttime temps were regularly in the mid to high 90's.  By the time September came around I was able to whip out a 15-18 mile run without any problem, but I knew there was something lacking. I chose to join the half marathon training instead of the marathon and I think that was a good decision.  It gave me a chance to catch up on learning.  
     When I ran the club's signature race, the DRC Half, it showed that this training clearly paid off (see previous blog).  During our group recovery run, my pace leader who is full of bits of running info and other useless info broke the whole science down to me of training for marathons and half marathons.  The full marathon group's longest training run is only 20 miles he told me.  This made no sense to me since a marathon is 26.2 miles.  Basically they run on a time basis during training, not distance.  And you don't run at race pace during training.  He explained further, that "It's not the distance that you are training for, it's training to stay on your feet for 4 hours.  The speed and distance will be there if you train properly to stay on your feet and have a good race strategy on race day." 
     Remember when you were in Physics, Chemistry or maybe Calculus class and you were foggy on everything and one day everything just 'clicked'?  Well everything clicked for me then. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

2011 DRC Half Marathon

     Today's race could not have come at a better time.  I had just underwent a huge role change at my job and my last day in the department I have worked for 10 years was this past Friday.  That was was weighing on me emotionally to me leaving that group as we are a pretty close family and I am so attached to a number of people there.  So preparing for this race took my mind off of that and the anxiety of starting my new position on Monday.  Saturday I volunteered to set up the race and part of that was to unpack about 20 boxes of medals.  Once I saw the medals, I was pretty giddy and ready to get the show on the road.
     I did very well I think Saturday fueling up with Pizza, Bagels, pasta.  I got a good night sleep which surprised me, because the night before all of my previous races I have barely got any sleep.  Since daylight savings time ended last night, that even gave me an extra hour to prepare.  Got to the race about 20 minutes before it started, due to traffic and having to wait on the shuttle to be transported.  I would have liked to have gotten there at least an hour before.
     Temps were in the 60s and overcast...people complained about the humidity, but I really didn't notice at all.  I guess all that training in the Texas 100 degree heat this summer made me numb to it.  I located 2 people from my pace group and we decided to try to stick together for as long as we could.  I was wondering if I would be able to keep up.  I had no idea it would be the other way around.  
     The first couple miles was weaving in and out of traffic.  We came up on another person from our pace group.  She and a friend of hers joined us, so we had a pretty good group put together.  We kept it at about an 8:55 pace for the first 4-5 miles then started hitting the hilly parts of the course.  My strategy was to tackle the upside of hills carefully, but turn it up a notch on the downside.  Around mile 6 I noticed we lost one of our members.  Then at mile 7 or 8 I lost the other two.  I found out after the race that it was due to cramps and the humidity which seemed to have little or no effect on me.  
     I was feeling good and I was about to take advantage of it.  Every hill I came to, I did exactly as planned, ran at slight slower than marathon pace up the hill, but ran faster than marathon pace down it.  I latched on to a couple runners who were running my pace along the way which helped as well.  The whole time I was worried that I was going too fast and was in fear of crashing.  But it never happened.  Around mile 11 on my ipod the old school hip hop song "How Ya Like Me Now" by Kool Moe Dee popped on.  It starts out with a sample of "The Night Train" by James Brown.  I thought that was pretty funny and actually gave me a little bit more push.  The last mile my legs started to tire a bit, but I was still good and was able to keep my pace.  I found myself looking for guys in my age group to make sure I passed by them for a better ranking  LOL.  I finished with a time of 01:55:23 and a pace of 8:46.  642 out of 2716 overall and 84th out of 237 in my age group.  I never would imagine that I would be the only runner in my pace group who would finish with the target time that we all trained for.  I just wonder how I would have done if the humidity that I didn't even notice wasn't there.  
     So that's one half down and two more to go before the end of the year.  Again, per my last blog I credit this to the group running I have been doing. I don't think I would have accomplished this if I were still running solo.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Better in numbers

I knew that joining a run club would be a big help in my training, but never knew how much. Since joining the Dallas Running Club, my marathon pace has improved dramatically, from about 9:53 to 8:46.  When I was running solo, I was running too many miles and too often.  I was running probably 5 days out of the week, now I'm running about 3 times per week with the group and maybe once on my own.  I've learned a better way to do speedwork and on long runs I've learned how to adjust my pace depending on where I am in the run.  I've also learned a  lot of new run terminology and runners' etiquette.  Not to mention making new friends.  In the half marathon coming this Sunday, my group plans on running the whole thing together in our own pack.  All 12 of us.  In my previous races, I ran solo.  I enjoyed all of them, but I think I would have enjoyed even more with company when I think about it.  I'm really looking forward to it.