Tuesday, January 20, 2009

More Half Marathon...

In looking at my posted times for this year and last year's races at the Aramco Houston Half Marathon, I have come across a few positive looking details.

I finished a good bit higher in overall placement and somewhat higher in age division placement.

Using the same set points of the race:
I reached the 6.2 mile mark 16 seconds faster in 2009.
I reached the 8.9 mile mark 2:38 faster in 2009. [Technically, this point is listed as mile 8.88 in 2008 and mile 9 in 2009.]
I finished 10:01 faster in 2009.

In 2008, I felt my worst during the last few miles. In 2009, I felt my best during the last few miles. In fact one of my thoughts as I finished this year was that I could have completed the full marathon with confidence. One of my 2008 problems that I successfully corrected this year was not to get too impatient with slower runners/walkers blocking my path and waste too much energy dodging and weaving to get around them, instead I was more careful to pick the best opportunities to move ahead. This kept me from using too much energy too early in the race.

All in all, I am still satisfied with this race, even more so now.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Aramco Houston Half Marathon

Today worked out to a generally successful run of the half marathon distance for me. I ran 2:37:11--slightly slower than I had hoped, but I am in no way disappointed with the time.

I have these overall observations:
1. This was my third best time at this distance, and less than 4 minutes off my PR time.
2. Today's weather was pretty good, although the humidity seemed high and it was definitely 10 - 15 degrees warmer (mid 60's) than the previous night's weather forecast (low 50's) during much of the race.
3. The knee injury that I had been nursing came somewhat into play during the run. The knee was a bit stiff at most times, and especially after the race; however, I can't say that my knee slowed me down much. I think I was more slowed down by the plethora of people walking several abreast who couldn't have done a better job of blocking the path had they tried. I am not bashing walkers/run-walkers, but please don't block the path of other runners trying to run. I, for one, look back and try to pull over to a safe spot when I walk as a courtesy to others.
4. Local race support was outstanding, perhaps the best I have seen--even surpassing the San Antonio Rock 'n Roll event last November. I could feel the energy pick me up at times.
5. I had hoped to run with one of my friends, but we never got together before the start. I held back to near the start to try to find her, figuring that if I missed her I might see her as I ran past. In the end we never saw each other until well after the race. It turns out she stayed even farther back looking for me, so I never ran past her. In the end I outran her by about 8 minutes.
6. I ran a negative split by about 12 seconds per mile for the race.

After a small rest period, I can look forward to running the Austin Half Marathon next month--28 days away as I write this. Hopefully, I can get my knee to heal up to unlock a sub-2:30 effort at that event.

By popular demand of half my known readers (Rae, this means you!) here is the one known photo of my race taken from around the mile 5 by Heather (the other half of my known readers!)

Yes, I am running backwards, I had been running on the opposite side of the street and crossed over past Heather before I could get her attention. It is one of the better photos of me running, even with the awkward circumstances. I had been slowing a bit around here and seeing a friendly face helped get me going!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Houston Marathon Prep

Well, today was my final group run with the running club. I generally tried to keep from going too fast, which for me means my goal was to run around 13 minutes per mile. I ended up running 5 miles in just under 61 minutes which was a bit faster than I wanted to run. I suppose this is good news as I did not feel that I had extended beyond my desired effort for the run.
The one downside is that I have been feeling some minor pain and stiffness in my right knee since the run. I took it easy the rest of the day and will rest tomorrow and see how it feels. I would definitely be very unhappy to be injured this close to my half marathon next weekend! As for now, I'll continue to rest, take some anti-inflammatory meds and put some ice on it. [Sunday night update, the knee was somewhat improved today, it didn't always hurt, but it feels like it could nag me for awhile. Tomorrow is a swim day, then I'll take an extra rest day on Tuesday--it's a busy work day anyway.][Tuesday afternoon update, the knee has continued to improve slowly, due to a crowded pool, I took a rest day Monday and swam 1000 yards this morning. It's not so much pain as stiffness now, but these is a definite amount of stiffness at the knee joint. I'm trying to decide whether it's better to get extra rest or light exercise between now and Sunday's half marathon.]

For anyone wanting to see me lumber around Houston next weekend, look for me wearing this shirt and (probably) a matching visor. The WISH stands for We're Inspired to Stay Healthy, an online group I have been part of for some time. It is also quite likely the most noticeable running shirt I own.

I haven't yet decided if I will plan to pick up my race bib and go to the race expo on Friday or Saturday. If I can get out of work on Friday, I'll definitely try to go then.

On the triathlon front, I have joined Lone Star Multisport, a triathlon club in the local area, and the Houston Racing Triathlon Club for 2009. I joined both figuring I could decide later which would serve me best. Unfortunately for me, both of them have their January meetings on the same evening. I have also been looking at a new bike, as the old bike is just not going to make it much longer--and was never really suited for what I wanted it to do anyway. As usual for a relatively new endeavor, I don't really know what I want or what questions to ask. Nothing new for me there...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2009 Goals

With the start of the new year, I am laying out several athletic goals for myself.

1. Lower my 5K PR to below 30 minutes. I don't run too many 5K's, and rarely at all later in the year, so we'll have to see if I get this done in the spring or if it has to wait for the fall.
2. Lower my half marathon PR to below 2:30. I'll probably run a couple half marathons during the year, but I'm thinking fall will be my best chance to PR at this distance. I am already entered in 2 half marathons early in the year--Houston in January and Austin in February, although I don't know if either is really suitable for trying to set a new PR.
3. Compete in at least 2 triathlon events. I am currently looking at the Lone Star Triathlon's Quarter Iron event (Galveston) in early April and the CB&I Triathlon (The Woodlands) in early May as my first triathlon. After that, we will see where I go after that. I would like to someday enter the Longhorn Ironman 70.3 event in Austin, but that will probably have to wait another year.
4. Enroll in, and train for, the Walt Disney World Marathon in January 2010. In addition to running a full marathon, I plan to enjoy a nice family vacation.
5. Get myself down under 210 pounds before the end of the year. I ended 2008 a good deal lighter than I started the year and I hope to replicate that weight loss (at a minimum). Right now my weight may be the biggest obstacle holding me back. Who knows how much faster I can be if I just drop 20 pounds or more?

OK, now that I've laid this out, we'll see how i did come year's end.

In celebration of my efforts for the new year, this morning I started the year with my own personal sprint triathlon at the gym--300 yards swimming, 7 miles biking and 1.5 miles running. Admittedly, it was not very long, but, hey, I had to start somewhere.