Saturday, February 26, 2011

Austin Marathon Race Report

In the days leading up to the Austin Marathon, I was very anxious for race day knowing I tapered well, felt rested, and was in good enough shape to PR, but at the same time, worried that my right knee would flare up and possibly cause a DNF.  Turns out my knee was the least of my worries.

Austin Marathon/Half Marathon Expo
My family went with me to the marathon's expo on Saturday.  It was packed.  To keep it short, the expo was fun, but we stayed a bit too long for our 2 year old daughter Lacey, and she let us know it.  Between her tantrums, I ran into Bart Yasso.  As a long time subscriber to Runner's World Magazine, I've read a lot about him, and was hoping I would get the chance to say 'hi'.  We talked for a good few minutes, but I had to break off the conversation due to the aforementioned 2 year old.  So what happens when your 2 year old has a melt down in a public place?  If you're my wife or I, you take lots of pictures of the act for posterity.  I've included one below.
Bart Yasso and I at Expo.

Lacey going Postal,
 and me trying to hang on.

My wife, Lora, and our friend
Keri from California pictured
at our hotel.
The whole idea to run Austin came from a childhood friend of my wife's named Keri.  Her and her husband flew out from the San Fransisco area, and we hung out for the weekend together.  She reads my blog, so to Keri I'd like to say, "It was great to see you again after 9 years.  You rocked the marathon.  Hope to run another with you in a couple years.  Maybe next time you'll babysit our little ones so Lora and I can hit the clubs. :-)"
Blogger meet up with Jim pre-race
with Texas Capitol in background.
As planned, I was able to meet fellow blogger Jim from 50 After 40 for the first time before the race.  He posted a very detailed review of the course and the city on his blog.  Although we didn't start the race off together, it took us over 4 minutes to cross the starting line once the gun went off.  We then spent the first couple miles wasting energy trying to get around all the slower runners who didn't line up according to pace.  We both agreed the next crowded marathon we do, we'll line up more toward the front.  Our expectations before the race was that I would be running a faster pace than him, but he caught up to me after mile 13, and we ran the next 4 miles together before I told him to go on.  We spent most of our time on the run together talking about blogging and marathoning.  It's kinda ironic we live about 3 hours from each other, but he drove 12 hours, and I drove almost 10 hours to make our rendezvous possible.
Mid race.  Feeling pretty good
at this point.
As far as how the race went down for me...  It was an up and down race just like the course.  I started off feeling good, but my pace was off a little due to the crowd of runners and the first 5 miles going uphill into the wind.  After mile 5, we turned around and ran a few miles downhill and with the wind.  Not suprisingly, my best splits came at this point (about 30-45 seconds below MP), and my heartrate actually went down.  However, I was starting to work up a real sweat from the heat/humidity, and the worst hills were coming up.  I wish I took some pics of the hills on this course.  They weren't long, but they were over a 10% grade and right after you finished one, another wasn't too far behind.  I finally bonked around mile 20 where the race starts a gradual decline toward the finish.  Despite having the easy part of the course on my side, I was still slowed by the headwind which totally cancelled out any benefit I had from the downhill part of the course.  After mile 22, any hill I got to larger than a speed bump, I resorted to a brisk walk to get to the top.
Jim and I tearing up the road.
Finished in front of the Texas Capitol.
Nice photo op.

Jim and I now BFFs

Keri has a determined look as she's about
to chick a guy 40 yards from the finish.
Austin Elevation Chart from my Garmin

2Slow4Boston Austin Marathon Stats
Chip Time3:40:36
Overall Place550/4820
Age Group89/490
Average Pace8:25
One year ago, a 3:40 would've been a PR by 5 minutes.  Now, it is a bit of a disappointment being 5 minutes below my current PR, and PRing (BQing) is one thing that drives me to train hard.  However, my finish time is only on paper and doesn't take into account the hills and the adverse weather conditions (60 degree temps, 90% humidity, headwind from South).  On a different course on a different day, I have little doubt of narrowing my BQ margin and running a sub 3:30.  Looking at my overall place, 550th, is in the top 11%, and that is probably the highest ranking I've achieved for a marathon.
Bart Yasso deja vu

I saw Bart Yasso all over the place on race day.  Here is a random pic from the finish line area, but I saw him a couple times along the course, and he was at the finish line to greet the runners as they completed their race.  Right after I took this picture, we shook hands.  Not only did he remember me from the expo, but he remembered my name too.

Kinda hard to see from the picture to the left but I'm taking an ice bath.  I guess my hotel had pretty good water for the ice cubes to be clear.  I stayed in the ice water a little over 10 minutes.

While I'm on the topic of the bathtub, check out the shower head in our hotel room.  I swear it's the shortest one I've ever seen/used.  Did they have midget plumbers plumb the rooms?  Maybe a rookie plumber, or maybe they were trying to save on copper pipe.  There is obviously room to spare towards the ceiling.
I leave you with a couple pictures of a cave we toured
while vacationing in Austin.
Almost pretty enough to be wallpaper.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Quick Post About Austin 26.2

My family is still enjoying some vacation time here in Austin, so I'll keep this short and sweet.  I'll post a more detailed race report by the weekend.  Thanks to all the bloggers out there who were rooting for me, and curious to know how I made out.

My official chip time was 3:40:36, about 10 minutes slower than I had predicted.  I am still 2 Slow 4 Boston!  However, the conditions weren't too favorable (60+ degree temps, about 90% humidity, and a head wind for most of the 2nd half of the race).  Also, the hills along the course were steeper than I had planned on or trained for.  OK enough excuses.  In the big picture, lots of positives I can take from my race.  It is my second fastest marathon out of 16.  It is my fastest spring marathon, and my fastest with any kind of hills.  More to come...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pack Up the Family... Austin Here We Come!

I think my wife Lora is trying to sabotage me this week.  She knows I've got a marathon to run this weekend yet she is insisting on baking some of my favorite foods for dinner and desert.  I have been weak, and haven't been able to resist large portions.  Do brownies count for carbo loading?  I should get some credit for not eating as much as I could.  I finally told her to make something I'm not too fond of.

This will be my last post before running in the 20th annual Austin marathon (on the 20th).  Some commented that I looked ready to BQ based on my training times and distances. I am flattered in the confidence my peers have in me.  Unfortunately, I lack the same.  While I do believe I'm ready to PR big time, a BQ time for my age is 20 minutes faster than the PR I set last Fall.  Also I set my current PR on a fairly flat, fast course with near ideal conditions.  Austin is a bit of a technical course with a 14 foot average elevation gain per mile for the first 17 miles.  It is starting to look like it will be pretty warm that day, so the weather might not be on my side either.  I'm trying not to worry about things beyond my control, and I did lots of incline workouts on the mill to prepare for the hills.  I'm lousy at predicting my marathon finishes, but I think I'm capable of a 3:25-3:30 time which would put me at a sub 8 minute pace.
Elevation Chart

Just bought a new pair of Ascics shoes.  Normally, that's not much news, but I've only got a week to break them in before my 26.2 miler.  My old pair had over 1000 miles logged on them, so I was being cheap due for a new pair.

Other little factoids about my trip to Austin.
  • The only other time I was there was for part of my 1 year wedding anniversary.
  • Now I'll be there with an additional 3 kids.
  • Looking forward to meeting up with a friend who is flying in from the San Francisco area to run the marathon too.
  • We'll be hanging out with some other friends who now live there.
  • My wife and I have yet to make plans for what touristy things we'll do, but it will have to be kid friendly.

I missed out on blogging during V-Day.  So here is my very brief belated tribute to my wife:  We met back in 1997 over the internet (she initiated contact).  After emailing for a couple weeks, we finally decided to meet in person.  She says she's never done anything like that before wink, wink...  Anyway, it was love at first sight for me.  For her, apparently not so much ;-(  I guess I had to woo her over a bit.  I think what finally did the trick was the first time she felt comfortable to drink alcohol in front of me, she had too much, and threw up all over my car's floor board.  In her eye's I handled it like a champ, I cleaned up after her, and got her inside her house safe and sound, all without complaint.  Fast forward 10 years of marriage and 3 kids later, I've learned to complain a little, but we're still as happy as we were after that first time she spewed chunks on our 4th date.

    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    It's About Time I got a Logo

    I finally got a header constructed for my blog.  If you look closely, you'll notice background maps of Boston, and a few cities I've completed marathons in like Little Rock, Myrtle Beach, and Oklahoma City.  Actually I have to give credit to my graphic designer wife, Lora, for the new logo.  I came up with the concept and rough draft, but after asking Lora for help with part of it, she kinda took the project over.  That was fine with me, so that while she was cussing at the graphics software, I was free to watch porn clean the kitchen.  Besides she has more creative/artistic talent in her cute little double jointed thumbs than I have in my whole body.   Now maybe I'm a little closer to getting one of those Stylish Blogger award things that gets passed around.

    I received a much anticipated package in the mail this week.  It's a racing singlet with a Brooks Hansons Distance Project logo on it.  I didn't get it as a reward for hitting a mileage goal or setting a PR.  Let's just say I got it because it makes me look fast as long as I'm not running, and maybe even stands out a bit (whether that's good our bad I have yet to figure out).  Besides, the only other singlet I have is a plain white one, and here's my chance to model something just like all the other bloggers out there.  Even though it's not nearly as interesting as a toga like Chris K wore.  I also figured sporting shorter shorts than what most guys would be caught dead in, makes me look gay more legit, no?  Now I just need to wait for the cold weather to end to take this act on the road.

    Okay, I got a new logo, and a new shirt.  So to complete the 'new' trifecta, we just got a new dog in our household.  Named her Jia.  We picked a Chinese name since the breed originated there, and Jia fit her better than Kong.  A couple more actual Chinese dog names we liked but turned down for obvious reasons:  Feng-Po-Po (means goddess of winds), Hou-Chi, and last but not least, Dong.

    As far as my training goes, I finished my first week of tapering for the Austin marathon.  I had to take it easy on my right knee.  The month of January kicked my knee's ass (bet you didn't know a knee has an ass) due to a 269 mile month, where almost all of those miles were within 30 seconds of my target marathon pace.  My knee finally felt good enough yesterday to push the pace up to a 7:07.

    1/31/2011 Weekly Mileage
    Mon.080 minutes on Elliptical trainer
    Tue.127.6 min/mi
    Wed.68.0 min/mi
    Thur.57.9 min/mi
    Fri.68.5 min/mi
    Sat.168.25 min/mi on treadmill

    You know how after you see a movie they show a gag reel, or bloopers during the credits?  Well here's my version.  I've got some poses that didn't quite make the cut, but I'm sharing them anyway:

    I think I was going for a speed and power look.
    But I decided the power part was lacking.
    Not sure what I was thinking here.
    Based on my facial expression, I'd
    say I was trying to download a brownload.