Saturday, October 31, 2009

Great Pumpkin Fun Run 5K

I just got a 5K PR! Chip time: 23:32.

Yesterday I signed up for the Great Pumpkin Fun Run 5K because it sounded like a fun way to get my 5K pace tempo run done.

This morning, I drove into downtown Houston, shivering from the chilly 52 degrees. I parked and ran towards the start line with the race map in my hand. With only 15 minutes to find the start line, that was my warm-up.

I had a few things I wanted to do today and I actually did them all!
  • Hit start and stop on my Garmin when I cross the mats.
  • Start closer to the front.
  • Beat my PR of 24:01.
  • Run a 7:36 average pace.
  • Even if it feels really hard, keep running strong!
In the first mile, a purple grape and Superman both passed me and then I actually passed Superman in the last mile! And you know he was running faster than a speeding bullet! ; )

Part of the race route was on the half marathon route I ran last Sunday and the running route I ran yesterday so the streets were familiar. So were the hills! I only had to run up a couple today, though.

Near the end, we ran up a steep hill and I heard my name called out. I knew it was a friend I had seen just before the start. Thanks to her I must have cut my time by at least five seconds!

Finally, I was close to the finish line and I saw 23:32 on the race clock - such a bea-u-t-i-ful sight!

Splits: 7:30, 7:37, 7:40, and last 0.11 mile at 7:06. Average: 7:35. Garmin finish time: 23:33.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hello, Humidity!

My first thought when I started running today was that I should have posted yesterday.

Yesterday I had one of those great runs that makes you glad you are a runner - aches dissipated and people were smiling and singing along the running trail. Singing? Yes! : )

And I didn't think a post about today's run would be nearly as happy. It's the same old story... Hello, Humidity!

But then I crossed the street to run on the bike trail (south side of Memorial, for you locals) and the new sights helped. It was woodsy and quiet. After a couple of miles, I crossed the street again to run on the usual trail where I felt safer. I'll try that bike trail again when there are more people on it.

After awhile, the humidity didn't bother me and I was able to speed up. You never know what will happen on a run. Sometimes you just can't speed it up and sometimes you can. Maybe it was because I took in more fuel than usual: Gatorade every two miles except for mile four where I had Gu and water. Maybe it was the short rain shower that cooled me off. The run started out feeling so hard, but it ended up easier. Not easy, but better than it was when I started.

Today's run:

  • 2 mile warm-up
  • 7 miles easy (relatively speaking)
  • 1 mile cool-down

I took an ice bath afterwards - I was so hot (about 80* outside). While I was chillin' (!), I looked through a local magazine and came across an article about a house in my neighborhood I ran by today. Now I know what it looks like inside - very artsy!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pre-race Anxiety Remedy

To do away with pre-race nervousness on race morning, do something scarier than running a race. Catch a ride on the back of your husband's speedy motorcycle! (OK, so he says he was going the speed limit, but it felt really fast!)

When we hit the road bumps, my hands were clenched in mortal fear around his waist and the rest of my body was flying through the air. And not with the greatest of ease! Yes, except for my hands, my whole body was hovering over the motorcycle!

And worries about the race? What worries?!

That photo was taken just after I finished running the Houston half marathon last Sunday and it was time to get on the motorcycle again... And I was smiling! It's the challenges! Isn't life fun?! Well, except for the helmet hair!

~Still Recuperating! Kinda Sore!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Koala/Luke's Locker Houston Half Marathon Race Report

Yes, I had fun, but I didn't PR. My gun time was 1:55:26 and I needed to beat 1:50:57. My Garmin says 1:54:01, pressed a few seconds after I crossed the finish line, but I don't know my chip time yet. The race site states that time corrections are being processed for specific runners. I'm one of them. And now, let's carry on with the race report... : )

It was hilly! So that's where Houston's been hiding the hills! There were some clouds, but it was warm (63* at the start) and I was drenched in sweat! It was windy! I know... So where's the fun part?! First, I have to tell you my little sob story... Don't worry. It's very little.

Just after eating a Gu gel at mile four (ate one at mi. 8, too), I meant to get two cups of water (because I knew I'd spill some), but I got a cup of water and Gatorade - my fault. I went forward anyway, then ran back, and then changed my mind and went on. Unhappy about that time waster and missed water, I put one ear phone in and turned my music on... I was saving this illegal device for an emergency and it had come!

See that picture? That's just after I put my ear phone in. I get over stuff kind of fast.

So then we were on the second loop of this three loop race and all I really wanted was to PR now - not by minutes, but at least by one tiny little second! I saw runners I knew (fun!) and when the end was close, I told myself it was a 1 1/2 mile race and a 1 mile race, etc., to speed myself up. I heard my name called out as I crossed the finishing mat!

What I learned from the Houston half marathon today:
  • Start closer to the front. Mile one was one big zig-zag party.
  • Run the tangents.
  • Train on more hills!
  • Get water at the beginning of the water line. Might carry some.
  • Do more tempo runs without rests between the miles.
  • Music helps.
  • Don't forget to hit the stop button on your watch!
Do you have any advice? The Houston marathon is in 11 weeks and I'm hoping for 3:50.
~Will Work For a BQ!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Racewear & New Chip

Have you seen the new chips like the one on my shoe? I can keep it after the race, but I don't think I'll leave it on my shoe like I did the small round one I received at the '08 Houston marathon. This one is kind of big.

That other one was on a retired running shoe that I wore to my first visit with my new dentist a couple of weeks ago. He saw it when I was up in the chair and asked me about marathons. I had the water tube in my mouth and a couple of hands in there, too, but somehow I managed to tell him all about running marathons. Well, he asked!

The weather forecast for the Houston Half Marathon race day keeps getting warmer (66-80* that day) so I'm dressing for warm weather. See my race day outfit on Winnie the Pooh? Original layout? No?

I'm hoping the colors will make me easy to spot. That's what I thought when I wore an orange shirt, too. I was wrong. Orange was very in!

I ran four miles this morning and it was a chilly 53 degrees. I don't think I really warmed up until after the run when I ate my hot oatmeal. I like this cool weather!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Half Marathon Race Goals

There are only three days until the Houston Koala/Luke's Locker half marathon. Sunday, it's supposed to be partly cloudy (clouds are good!) with a low of 63*. That's a little warm, but compared to some recent runs, maybe it will feel nice.

The last time I ran this race ('07), it was about 55* and my finishing time was 1:50:57. My main race goal is to PR, but my next goal is to run at an 8:14/mile average and finish in 1:48. If I feel fine after mile 10, I'll speed up.

If I feel really good, I'll start out at an 8:10 average for a time of 1:47:04. Someday, I'd really like to run the half marathon in 1:45 (8 min/mile average). Here's the tool I used to get all of those numbers: Cool Running Race Pace Calculator.

Photo: A butterfly enjoying the flowers in my yard. Pre-race butterflies in my stomach aren't too bad for me this time. It's my third time to run this race and my fourth half marathon. It will be fun!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Taper Week Mid-Week WO

Today I ran my last hard run before the Koala/Luke’s Houston Half Marathon this Sunday. I wanted to run two half marathon paced miles sandwiched between two warm-up and two cool-down miles, but the humidity slowed me down to closer to marathon pace.

If it's humid on race day, I'll need to revise my goals. Maybe I could just call it a long marathon paced training run. But really, whether it's humid or not, race days are fun days and I'm looking forward to it. Thanks for all of the encouraging comments!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Another Armadillo

I headed towards my usual running trail at the park and spotted an armadillo coming out of the woods. It ignored me and crossed the street where a patient driver slowed to a stop and let it pass. Armadillos are funny looking animals. This is my second sighting since we moved into a house a few blocks away from Memorial Park in Houston.

A few days ago I walked into the same woods that I saw the armadillo leaving and took a picture of this berry plant with clusters of purple berries - a black nightshade, I think. This is the first time I've seen this pretty, but poisonous plant.

I ran an easy 4 1/4 mile run this morning - conserving energy for that half this weekend.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Speedwork Before the Half Marathon

I ran over to the park, got a drink of water at the tennis courts and crossed the street to the 1/4 mile track, a new place for me. One speedster just finished flying around the track and left. So, clockwise or counter-clockwise? Inside or outside lane? I don't know what the 'rules' are, but I went with counter-clockwise (that's what the last runner did) and middle lane, unless I was passing and there was room on the inside lane.

I 'sort of' followed this plan: run 5 x 800m. with 90 second rests with the first and last at the fastest pace and the middle one at the slowest pace.

My minute/mile pace for the 800's along with interesting details ; ) :
  • 7:49
  • 7:10 I saw someone I recognized during this one and waved. Yeah, I'm running at a 7:10 pace and I can wave, too!
  • 8:01 See what happens when you brag?! Let that be a lesson to me!
  • 7:31
  • 7:20 Started this one smiling (because it's the last one), but ended up looking very, um, let's just say focused and driven. Yeah, it's supposed to be hard! It was!

Nice and cool this morning - 55-60 degrees and that really helps with the speed. I hope it's a good thing to cut the miles down, but keep working hard in this pre-race week.

Had a minor pain on the top of my right foot (not the left like last week) so I iced it after the run. Tip: make sure that your frozen pea bag is tightly closed before putting it on your foot. Excuse me, I need to clean a few peas off of the floor now.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

It's Cooler!

Yesterday was a great running day! It was only sixty-seven degrees and it was a speedwork day. After a 1.5 mile warm-up, I ran a mile four times with four minute rests (get a drink of water and run easy) in between. My goal was 8:09/miles and I ran them in 8:00 - 8:08. I tried to memorize the feeling of running at that pace - my goal pace for the half marathon.

Of course, racing is going to be a little easier. Everyone else will be running their fastest. I'll try to be fast, too! The people who stand along the road and cheer will push me forward. I will listen to all of their encouraging words. And I'll believe them!

I ran 4.5 miles today. There were lots of people out there enjoying the cool 58*. Lots of cheerful smiles and hellos today. : )

Photo: After my run at Memorial Park yesterday, I went back with my camera to take pictures along my running route. There were a handful of butterflies there fluttering around these flowers.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Happy Foot

Here are my comfy ASICS 1140's I wore today on my pain-free 6.56 mile run. : ) I only meant to run 6 miles, but I forgot to keep an eye on how many miles I had run when I was running up and down the hills.

That was the last part of my workout, though. I started with a warm-up and then I ran for 25 minutes starting slowly and ending at a faster pace. And then, a few hills.

But let me tell you how my morning started. (I'm really going backwards this morning!) My hubby found me at the computer (we just moved into a teeny-tiny house and somehow it's hard to find each other!) and he told me to be careful on my run.

"Oh yeah, I'll come back if it hurts," I told him. But he wasn't talking about my foot. He was talking about the heat! So he left for work and I started running down the street. It felt so humid - about 80*. My foot felt fine, but I forgot my wash cloth to wipe my sweaty face. My visor felt like it was strangling my brain! I turned around at the 0.05 mile point and ran home.

I took off my visor and grabbed my wash cloth and my fuel belt. I filled it with three bottles of cold Gatorade and got back out there. You didn't think I had quit, did you?! ; )

I ran to the park, did my workout and ran back home exhausted, but happy. No pain today! And I only noticed the humidity at the beginning and the end of my run. There were so many other things to think about today: my foot (at the beginning), pace, hills, sweat pouring off my eyelashes. Glad I had that wash cloth!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Probably No Big Deal

Yesterday at the very end of my run, the top of my left foot hurt and it hurt a little when I walked, too, later. I iced it and thought it was nothing, but I felt it again when I started out on my easy run this AM, so I cut my run short and walked home. Better to miss an easy day than to keep running and cause a bigger problem.

Monday, October 12, 2009

12 Mile Run at Memorial Park

I had a great 12 mile progression run this morning at the park. It didn't feel that humid and it was only 67*, but my legs just didn't want to go faster than 10:00/mi for the first three miles. The next three miles averaged 9:40. That's better!

I ate a tangerine with caffeine Powerbar gel at mile 4.5. At mile 5.5, I started my music. I haven't listened to music on the run in weeks so it was a nice change. At mile six, there was a short rain shower and a breeze that cooled me off and I wanted to run faster. Isn't that the best, when you would normally be tired, but you feel great and want to run faster?!

I sped up in the last six miles, with the last four miles averaging 8:39 - faster than I had hoped I could run, but I felt that good! Smiles all around! : )

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Cool Run!

57 Degrees! I finished up my 50 mile week on a high note - a cool morning! Saturday morning runs are fun. We live on a popular running route (the bike route which leads to Memorial Park) and there are always lots of runners all along my route on Saturdays. It's almost like running in a race, but not as fast. Well, not today ; ) - it was just an easy-paced 4 1/2 mile run. Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, October 9, 2009

10 More Humid Miles

This whole week has been so hot and humid. I had planned to run 10 miles with 6 fast miles (may have been too hard even in cool weather!), but when I saw that it felt like 90* at 7AM, I changed the plan: run 1 mile fast, run 0.75 mile fast, run 0.5 mile fast, and run 0.25 mile fast with slow running in between the intervals. Sounded doable even in the heat and if I felt good, I'd do the whole routine twice. (I didn't.)

After a 15 minute warm-up, I started on the fast mile, hoping for at least a 9:00/mile. Got it - 8:26! I gave all I had in the first mile, though - the rest of my timed intervals came out at 9:03, 9:05 and 8:24. I ate a gel, got a drink, and sat on a bench. I didn't really think about it - about sitting, but I was so tired - and there was that nice bench. I made myself get up and stretch. When I started running again, my legs were heavy - I sat too long.

I ran five more miles which included an unplanned run home for some cold Gatorade (it tasted so good) and back to the park to finish my run, where I used all kinds of games to keep going - try to remember words to songs, guess which landmark is 0.1 mile away, and try to keep up with other runners.

Running in the humidity has not gotten easier. It feels like it's slowly wearing me down, making me more tired as this humid week progresses.

And now that I've written that unhappy post, I have good news: it's raining and it's cool outside. So my running shoes are drenched (I left them outside to air out), but the weather is looking up!

Photo: See the rain coming down in my back yard? Wish you could feel how cool it is!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Humid 8.6 Miles

First of all, the humidity here in Houston was a big deal if you were outside this morning - it felt like 90-93*. Hot!

I stepped onto the road in front of my house and headed towards the park. A few runners ran by and I wondered how they could run so fast on such a hot day. I ran onto the park loop and I was glad that I wasn't the only one running in the heat.

I ran down the path to the downhill/uphill portion of the loop. The rest of the Memorial Park loop is flat, and today this is where I planned to get a little hard work in. I ran the downhill/uphill part 4 times (fairly fast) finishing with (fairly fast) strides at the end of each one on a flat part.

I was drenched in sweat and it was running into my eyes. I forgot to bring a wash cloth (I cut one in thirds for running with). I saw someone with a towel and thought, I'd pay her for that, but I didn't have any money. Probably a good thing!

I ran back around the rest of the loop and stopped at the refrigerated water fountain at the tennis courts. There was a runner standing there stretching. She looked at me and said one word, "Humid!"


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Wildlife On My Run

I've been told to look out for coyotes in Memorial Park. Each morning when I start out running on the woodsy part of the trail, I look into the trees for coyotes, wondering if they'd watch me run by or if they'd run away. Once I saw one at Memorial Park in Sugar Land (Houston suburbs). It stood quietly watching as I ran by.

At the end of my five mile run this morning I saw something that I couldn't quite figure out trying to cross the street from the park into my neighborhood. I got out my camera phone, just in case it was photo-worthy. I got two pictures of the armadillo before it took off into the trees at the park - my first time to see an armadillo at Memorial Park in Houston - probably the first of many.

Monday, October 5, 2009

17 1/4 Mile Run

So the training continues and today I ran a little over 17 miles. I never had any pain (knees just felt a little tired when I started back up after a water break at 15 miles) and I never felt like I couldn't finish. I pushed myself a bit to get a 10:03/mi. average pace.

It was a warm 75*, but the clouds kept me from feeling too hot. And, of course, the trees along the path helped, too. I would have liked to have run a little faster, but since it was warm, I didn't push too hard.

I wore Drymax socks. Twice on my run, the air flowing through my shoes felt nice and cool like a fan was blowing on them. Maybe it was the occasional breeze. Nice.

I meant to just run 17, but my calculations were a little off. Told myself I'd stop at 17 if I needed to, but I didn't.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Clif Shot Bloks

Last Monday I ate 3 strawberry Clif Shot Bloks at miles 5 & 9 of my 14 mile run. Today around mile 4 I ate three cran-razz Bloks. Both flavors were good - they taste like candy.

I like the packaging, too - a long strip. It was easy to squeeze them out of the package one at a time while I ran. And I surprised myself - I can chew (with my mouth closed - that's important!) and run at the same time! Monday I noticed little things like that it was taking me 1/4 mile (a long time!) to chew three Bloks, but today I just ate them without even thinking about it - a good thing. They still take more time to chew than it takes for me to swallow gel, though.

A Great 9 Miler!

After a two mile warm-up and two fast miles (goal: marathon pace) with a four minute slow-run rest in between the miles, I ate three Clif Shot Bloks. Yay, candy break!

Then I ran two faster miles (goal: 1/2 marathon pace) with a four minute slow-run rest in between the miles. Towards the end of the first mile, I saw some Army men standing and waiting with stop watches. I imagined that they were timing me and I ran faster. What?! You don't make up silly stories to help yourself run faster?! And a little later I saw Army runners coming towards me. They ran in boots and long pants (humid today and about 80*). Go, Army, go! That was my fastest mile!

I ran easy for four minutes and a runner just happened to slowly jog up beside me and start running fast just as my watch beeped: Go! So there we were racing down the path together! We were side by side until the other runner suddenly stopped to walk. Seemed like a good time to turn around and say, "Come on!" So I did. The other runner laughed! : )

I finished that last fast mile and reached for my wash cloth to wipe the sweat from my face (I cut one in thirds and tucked the cloth over my waist band), but it wasn't there. I turned around to look for it and felt for it again. This time I found it. It had slipped under my waist band! I stuck it in my pocket. I ran another mile or so, forgot I had stuck it in my pocket and thought I had lost it again! I think I was tired!

You know we moved to a new house a couple of weeks ago, right? Well, today I finished my run by running up my next door neighbor's driveway - the one just before you get to my house. It was a good way to finish my 9 miler: with a laugh!

(Maybe I should add that I don't live in a neighborhood where all of the houses look the same, but on my behalf, I have to also add that my house is right beside my neighbor's driveway. So there you go!)
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