Monday, October 17, 2011

Palo Duro 50 Mile - 2011

I drove down Friday afternoon with Neil and Edgar. We got to the park around 8 PM and the gates were closed. So we camped outside the park in a little side camp ground. We got up at 5:30, broke camp and drove into the park. By the time we got parked it was 6:30 so we only had 30 min till the race starts. We picked up our packets, got out bags setup at bag drop and got to the starting line right as the race started. In such a rush I didn’t have a t-shirt with me so I had to run in the race shirt. At the start it was 50 degrees.

Miles 1-3 10:56 Ave. We started out on a single track trail so we got caught in traffic. Probably a good thing as it felt super easy. It was dark for the first 4 miles. At about mile 3.4 we hit the first aid station and the 50K runners split off from us and we had room to move.

Miles 4-6 9:39 Ave. I felt good and no more traffic from 1st and 2nd aid station. I took my first gel at mile 6. The mile 6 aid station would yell when they would see anyone and you could hear them from a mile away.

Miles 7-9 10:21 Ave. The sun had come up enough to turn the light off. Right before the mile 9 aid station I tripped on a rock sticking out of the ground and I went down. This was right before we had to go down the stairs. For the rest of the race every time I passed someone they would comment because my shirt was dirty. They would ask if I went down. I didn’t understand this question. It’s a trail race of course I went down. If you don’t go down then you aren’t running hard enough.

Miles 10-12.5 9:36 Ave. This is the most runnable section of the course. I picked it up here and the overall female winner caught me here and we would go back and forth over the next 2 loops.

First Loop 2:07

Miles 13-15 10:05 Ave. I had planned to slow down a little each loop as the temps rise. I was planning on 11 min pace on this loop so I am very happy with this pace. I am starting to pass some of the 50K runners as they ran a 6 mile loop first.

Miles 16-18 10:06 Ave. Still happy with how I feel and my pace. We are running in more sun but the temps are still OK.

Miles 19-21 10:40 Ave. I keep stopping at each aid station and grab a couple of items to eat. I am still doing 2 gels per loop.

Miles 22-25 9:52 Ave. Again the last section is the most runnable. Good pace and the overall female winner is pushing me a little from behind. Every time she passes me as I stop at an aid station I figure she is either going to leave me or she is going to wear out and I will catch her. It is always a little push for me to beat the overall female winner.

Second Loop 2:09 - 4:16 Overall

Miles 26-28 11:32 Ave. It is all out hot now. I hope to hold 11:30 pace on this loop. Good luck as I can feel I am starting to cook. The legs still have plenty left in them.

Miles 29-31 11:36 Ave. I am holding on and pouring water on my head at each aid station. I am taking one Endurolyte every hour. My handheld lasted 15 miles before I had to refill it the first time. I am refilling it at each water stop now. I have it filled with Gatorade and ice.

Miles 32-34 12:02 Ave. I slowed down a little at this point. This is where the 50K sounds like a good idea. It would be nice to be sitting around with a burger and a beer right now.

Miles 35-37.5 11:40 Ave. A little better here but this is the easy section with a little bit of shade. I did catch back up with the overall female and passed her for the last time. As I finished the third loop I felt good and I knew if I ran smart a sub 10 hr. was mine. I figured a sub 10 was a tough goal for me all along. I figured I was more likely to run sub 11. Enough for a Western States qualifier.

Third Loop 2:26 - 6:42 Overall

Miles 38-40 11:37 Ave. My goal this loop is to run sub 13 min pace and even if I run 15 min I will still hit my goal. I find it is hard to make it 3+ miles between aid stations with my one handheld.

Miles 41-43 13:11 Ave. Drinking all I can at aid stations to get me from one to the next.

Miles 44-46 13:24 Ave. At some point I am doing all the funny math in my head and thinking I can go sub 9:20 for the race but after the last 6 miles it looks out of the question. But it looks like I have a shot at sub 9:30 if I hold it together. The last mile here I am being chased down by a guy in a red shirt. He is closing fast and all bets are off once my ego joins the race.

Miles 47-50 10:15 Ave. So I hit the last aid station behind a guy in a black shirt and the red shirt guy comes in behind me. We all go thru the shower to cool down and both of these guys get out of the aid station right in front of me. Black shirt goes easy but red shirt guy is moving and has a pacer wearing jeans. I get behind red shirt guy and see if I can hold on. Once I get going I feel like I can redline at this point and figure if a fly by him with 3+ miles to go he will either go with me and blow up. I figure if all else fails if I can stay close I can out kick him the last ¼ mile which is on the street. After a ½ mile I dropped him and got out of his site so he wouldn’t chase. I kept pushing the whole way to see what I could do.

Fourth Loop 2:37 - 9:19 Overall

Total - 9:19:12
I finished 3rd Masters and 10th overall.

This race went much better than I expected. This was supposed to be a training run for Cactus Rose 50. After how well this went I will probably skip Cactus Rose and work on my speed for some shorter road races. I am still sore 2 days later but that is what they call DOMS. I think my lower mileage training for Lakefront caused my legs to be a little undertrained for this distance. Edgar, Neil and I had a great time. Edgar ran 7:43 and third overall and Neil ran 10:0x and finished with a beer in his hand. That would have made my run better. We drove back that night and I will be back next year. I am still learning not to race Ultras and just enjoy them. I will let the time and place sort itself out. My real talent still probably lies on the road but time will tell. I am still a little scared of running 100 miles.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Lakefront Marathon

This was my first small marathon. (3000 runners) Hardly anyone in town even knew there was a marathon going on. We were walking to the host hotel to catch the buses to the start and the streets were empty. We looked at each other and asked if we got the date wrong. It was 5:30 AM in downtown Milwaukee and we did not see another person for the first ½ mile of our walk. I always have a Gatorade in the morning to sip on till the race starts and to wash down my first pre-race GEL. I forgot it in the hotel. We rode the bus to the start and when we got off it was in the mid-30s at Grafton High School. We went in the school and got to hang out and use the bathrooms in the school. About 20 min before the start we went outside and walked to the starting line a couple of blocks away. I lined up about 10 feet from the start. Although small the race officials at this race take the rules very seriously. One walked up to me and asked what time I was shooting for. I told him 2:56 which is maybe top 30 the previous year. He told me if I was going to be top 10 I would need to turn off the GPS on my watch. I could have HR and time but no GPS, headphones or pacers. I figured I was good as I would have to have a great day and the top 20+ racers would have to DNF.

Mile 1 - 6:40 First mile is downhill. Any traffic was done after a ¼ mile.
Mile 2 - 6:32 another downhill mile. I realized I forgot to take a GEL before the race started. Another mistake that probably didn’t amount to much.
Mile 3 - 6:50 this mile was uphill. I took my first GEL at 3.75.
Mile 4 - 6:43 this is where the course just started to roll. Front here to the end the course was consistently going up or down.
Mile 5 - 6:34 First funny mental moment here. I am thinking like I do in all marathons how I am going to write my race report. How I am going to describe how I knew it just wasn’t my day and I just never felt good. Then I looked at my watch and realized that I was a few seconds ahead of pace. I instantly started re-writing my RR in my head. How I started out too fast and crashed later in the race. I giggled at myself and thought, could we just run this race all out and right the race report later. Just too many negative thoughts.
Mile 6 - 6:42
Mile 7 - 6:49 this mile was going thru Concordia University. We had some crowd support but it was very hilly. I think I cussed one of the streets.
Mile 8 - 6:45 this is the first time I started to struggle. I was a third on the way thru but it felt like my legs were already starting to take a beating with all the hills. I made a huge training mistake with this race. I had abandoned my weekly hill runs for more speed and social runs. I was about to pay the price.
Mile 9 - 6:47
Mile 10 - 6:40 at most marathons mile 10 is tough for me. I was mentally prepared and probably overcompensated here. This mile is uphill and still I ran a fast mile.
Mile 11 - 6:43 took my second GEL here. Started to get a side stick soon after that.
Mile 12 - 6:48 I knew I was about 20 seconds behind pace. I was hoping to hold on for now and make it up on some down hills later.
Mile 13 - 6:52 this was not a good split. I hit the halfway point at 1:28:36 about 30 seconds off pace. I figured I could still salvage a 2:57 with a nice 1 min PR.
Mile 14 - 6:44 Pretty close to pace. I just needed to hold this till 20 and then pick it up.
Mile 15 - 6:42 another good mile. Could I hold this for 11 miles? Sounds easy enough.
Mile 16 - 6:38 Wow, this is a good sign. Just 10 more miles of this.
Mile 17 - 6:50 this mile was uphill or my legs were done? I was thinking just a loop around the lake. I meant to teak my GEL this mile and just lost focus and ran thru the water stop with the GEL in my hand. Another mistake.
Mile 18 - 7:00 I really lost it here. I know it was uphill but this was easily 10 seconds too slow. I took a huge mental hit when I saw this split. A mile starting with a 7. (ugggg)
Mile 19 - 6:57 not much better. I thought I always run a couple of 7:0x miles in Boston on the hills. I could pick it back up.
Mile 20 - 6:42 I took my 3rd and final GEL. Somehow I had picked the pace back up. I was not looking at my watch and just going on feel. The problem is I need to press with all I had and instead I think I was jogging.
Mile 21 - 6:47
Mile 22 - 7:11 obviously jogged out this mile. Just a bad job of holding focus. The last 10K is a fight and I just wasn’t able to fight back for whatever reason. I think the legs were too beat up from the hills.
Mile 23 - 7:05 I had kept hearing about a big downhill at 23. I couldn’t find it. It finally showed up at the end of the mile. Since my auto splits were ahead of the mile markers it probably showed up in the next mile.
Mile 24 - 6:53 by now I knew it was just about breaking 3 hrs.
Mile 25 - 7:16 I was pretty well jogging it in and trying my best at math. This is where we hit the beach at the lake and it was starting to get warm. Around 52 degrees I guess.
Mile 26 - 6:56 I figured I was going to have to pick it up a bit to go sub 3. Funny how sub 3 was my ‘C’ goal. How things have changed.
Mile 26.2 - 6:19 I started picking people off the last half mile as I knew I was close. Passed the 4th overall female in the last 200 yards and tried to pull her but she was done.
Total - 2:59:40 Not a PR

Finished 50/1202 overall 5th in Age Group

I had a great time with my friends over the weekend and loved how they all had big PRs. I was probably in 2:58 shape but went for a PR and made too many mistakes. The biggest was my loss of focus over the final 6 miles. I underestimated the course and trained poorly. Too much trail running and slow long runs. And the biggest mistake was not doing my 12-15 mile MLR on my hill route. Because of the summer heat my long runs were too easy and slow. I think Texas runners are much better off to shoot for a marathon a little later in the year so their last two months of training can be in the fall.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Shoe 60K Trail Race

I got up on Saturday and drove 200+ miles to Marble Falls. I got there about 11:30 AM and checked into my room at the Quality inn. I was the only person at the motel so I wondered if the place was closed down. The room was clean so it would do. Edgar, Shaheen and Steve showed up over the next hour. We grabbed some lunch and went back to the room for a nap. Steve and I were sharing a room and we both feel asleep. Three alarms went off at 4:40 and we both just want to stay asleep. We loaded up the cars and drove to the race.

At 7 we were off. It was at least 100 degrees but I was glad to get started. I was hoping for a 4 degree drop in temperature per lap. All though it was light out I knew that we would not be back in time for sun down so we all wore our headlamps. First we ran a little .82 of a mile out and back to get the correct distance. After that we would run 4 x 9.09 mile loops.

Out and back took 7:20 and that would be most of the crowd support for the night.

1st loop – 1:35 it felt very relaxed and we got a feel for the course. I started with two hand held water bottles. One with Sustained and the other with Gatorade. That is almost 500 calories. I skipped both of the aid stations on the course. About midway we hit a ½ mile section that was all rock and I knew this was going to take its toll over 4 loops. Some sections of the course were very runnable but overall it was the rockiest course I had ever run. Minimus shoes had no place on this course. I took a gel at mile 4 and 7 right before the aid stations so I could throw away the nasty gel packet. Back in the main aid station I re-filled my two water bottles with Gatorade and ate a few of chips and I was back on the course in 2 ½ min.

2nd loop – 1:59 this loop started off pretty good. I figured I was in 15-20th place but I really didn’t know as so many people are faster thru the aid stations. I was also being passed by some of the 30K runners so it was hard to know what place I was in. I still have work to do on my aid-station stops. I spend too much time deciding what to eat and drinking from the little cups. It would be much better to drink on the run. I stopped at both aid-stations on this loop to top off my water bottle. I should have limited myself to just one of them. Once I hit the middle rock section things really started to fall apart. My hip started bothering me going over the rocks and I slowed down to a crawl. By the mile 16 aid-station I was sure I was going to DNF and sit back at the finish line enjoying a few beers. Only running 19 miles would allow me to recover faster for my next race. I took gels at mile 13 and 16. I spent the next 3 miles pushing the pace back up and looking forward to being done. I was trying to come to grips why I am a strong road racer but when I get on the trails I seem to be a mid-packer with no killer instinct. I was just going to have to face it that I am not fast on trails and I don’t run well at night with my old eyes. I started to question all of my training as I seem to be trying to balance between fast marathon training and Ultra Trail endurance training. Do I need to learn how to train for one and just enjoy the other one? Do I need to pick a sport? Man it sucks to be normal. I’m just not use to that. I have always lived by the motto. If you want to be better at something then work harder. If you aren’t willing to work hard then live with being average. I then noticed how so many of these Ultra runners were trying so hard to keep going even if they were sick or injured. My hip was no longer bothering me so I figured I would go out for another loop. That would just be 28 miles. That’s barely a marathon. I had run that far already 11 times this year. Why not make it an even 12. I took 4 ½ min in the main aid station.

3rd loop – 1:53 this loop was one of my best I felt good and I was just running and not over thinking every step. About half way around this loop the overall winner caught me. I pushed for a half mile to hold him off but decided I could not hold his 10 min pace the whole way so I let him go. The next thing on my mind was Edgar and Steve were right behind him and ready to lap me. How embarrassing it would be for them to lap me on a 9 mile loop. I pushed the pace the rest of the lap as the ghost of Edgar and Steve chased me. Man do I have one hell of an ego. How my wife and kids put up with me I will never know. Sunny must be super human. Anyway I made it back to the main aid-station and no one else caught me. It took me 3 ½ min at the last aid station. I had a little run in with Nikki D and Teddi F as came in. Teddi had fallen down and they didn’t know I was a friend and I was going to run them down.

4th loop – 2:03 Yeah, this was my slowest loop but I was a little tired. The next few miles I kept trying to keep the pace up but not worry about what the watch said. Just run off feel. Funny how my good effort at this point was a 12:xx pace. I had another 60K runner catch me early on but his pace was too strong. I kept hearing a women and man talking so that was like a ghost chasing me. The funny thing is on trails like this with switch backs it often sounds like someone is real close but they might be a mile behind or for all I know a 30K racer on their second loop. At the first aid station a group of 3 or 4 guys caught up to me and the first thing one of them said was “there he is”. Like I had done something wrong. I took off and figured I would do my usual dropping of the hammer and show them. But a mile later I could hear them talking behind me. I just didn’t have the ability to drop them. I kept making them work over the next mile but they eventually caught up to me. We hung together over the next mile but once we hit that nasty rock section again I decided to walk it. I just had a vision of me pushing thru the rocks and tripping and breaking open my head. After that I picked it back up and decided I would skip the last water stop and chase them back down. I was giving it all I had and it just felt like I was never going to finish. Just over a mile out I went down. I caught myself with my water bottles and my back bent up big time. I was just sure I had done it. The old Nick would have been locked up like a drum. I think all the yoga and weights really allowed my back to handle that kind of a shock. In usual trail fashion the women next to me that I was passing asked if I was OK. I said yes but I needed someone to put me out of my misery. She said I was doing great so I hopped right back on my feet and took off with all I had again. I passed a couple more guys and I could hear the guys ahead. I kept getting faster and faster as we hit the last ¼ mile. I couldn’t see a thing as my light had faded and I thought I was going to give it my all and if I went down I could live with that. I sprinted down the shoot and caught one guy 50 yards from the finish line. Turns out he still had another lap to go. The two guys in front of him finished 20 seconds ahead of me.
I sat down for a few min and then had a beer, hamburger and shot of tequila. Visited with friends over the next hour and was so happy I pressed thru and finished the whole race. I went thru so many emotions on the course and learned to run hard when I could and take it easy when I needed to. Yeah, I could trim a few minutes getting thru aid stations a little faster but I would rather learn to enjoy these races then race them with every second on my mind. My time was 7:49:55 and 17th overall.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Jemez 50 Mile 2011

I had been talked into running this 50 mile trail race months ago by my 320 friends Steve and Amy. At the time they sold it as a non-competitive easy stroll where we would all stay together and just have a good time. I knew once the race started it would be every man, women and child for themselves. We (Amy, Steve, Jayna, Shaheen and I) rented a condo in Santa Fe. Jayna, Shaheen and I would be running our first 50 mile race on the most brutal course you could imagine. Later on Edgar ended up moving up to the 50 mile race and Steve came out to just run 31 miles in the mountains. We all had the best time together and after seeing how we were so relaxed the day before the race compared to a marathon it is going to be hard to go back to that (marathon) type of racing. We got up at 3 AM race morning and were on the road by 3:45. We got to the race by 4:30 and it was real close getting to the starting line in time.

Mile 1 - 11:39 we started out on a road in a big group. At a 1/2 mile we hit a single track trail and it created a large bottleneck. We were standing still for 30 seconds. After we got on the trail we were walking the trail when we could have been running a better pace.
Mile 2 - 10:24 I continued real slow till about 1.5 miles when we started to pass people. At this point we were still with our whole group. Steve B, Amy, Edgar, Shaheen, Jayna and myself. At this point the trails were still easy and only about 130’ ascent.
Mile 3 - 10:55 it was still dark and Amy and Steve got a little more aggressive passing people. The rest of the group hung back a little.
Mile 4 - 11:41 we started to climb a little (189’ ascent) so the pace started to slow. We were starting to see light.
Mile 5 - 11:29 287’ Ascent so we were walking more uphill’s.

Mile 6 - 13:47 we hit the first aid station here and as we approached we talked about a game plan for the stop. Although we weren’t racing we didn’t want to get stuck at the stop too long. We dropped off our headlamps here.
Mile 7 - 17:01 (643’ Ascent) A lot of slow climbs on switchbacks.
Mile 8 - 16:51 plenty of switchbacks both up and down. I was getting use to the narrow trails and I was probably overly conserving energy at this point. Our group was also still behind lots of slower runners holding down our pace.
Mile 9 - 15:45 another mile as I think back I could have run a bit faster. I have to learn that when the terrain turns downhill you need to pick up the pace. This mile was mostly downhill.
Mile 10 - 13:43 in my head I was always thinking a 15 min pace average would be a good goal. This was actually a pretty good mile considering it had its fair share of ups.
Mile 11 - 19:21 we hit an aid station (Caballo Base) here and started to climb Caballo Mountain. This was going to be 2 miles up (1800’ ascent) and the same 2 miles back down. It was mostly a walk up the mountain. At the time it seemed so difficult. I could feel my breathing getting very heavy. In retrospect this is another section I could have handled a little better going up.
Mile 12 - 26:57 this was one of my slower miles still going straight up the mountain. I was having a lot of problems with my left leg. It had gone dead almost to the point where I was limping on it. Here is where I had my first doubts because of a bad patch. I though the rest of the group would need to drop me as I was going too slow. Here is where the leaders started to come back down the mountain on the same single track. We would step off the track and give the downhill runners the right of way.
Mile 13 – 18:21 we reached the top of Caballo Mountain at 10,500’ elevation. It was beautiful as we turned around a tree to head back down the mountain. We stopped and took some pictures with the group. This is the first scary descent as we headed back down going against all runners coming up hill.

Mile 14 - 13:03 this mile was all downhill and although it felt very fast I was obviously going pretty careful as Edgar and Shaheen were pulling away from me very quickly. Most of the runners coming up hill were very good about yielding to the downhill runners. We ran into a few runners that would just stop the middle of the track. I caught up to Shaheen and Edgar. SS is covered in dirt and doubled over. She had tripped and gone down pretty hard. She said her calve was really sore but after a few miles she was running strong again.
Mile 15 - 17:40 we got to the bottom of the hill and stopped at the aid station. As usual we spent too much time at aid stations waiting for all 5 of us to get together, eat and fill our water bottles.
Mile 16 - 23:44 (881’ Ascent) we crossed a bunch of streams. All of them were small enough for us to jump over and not get our feet wet. We ran into a ladder and stopped for pictures as well as there was a line to get up the ladder.

Mile 17 - 13:10 fairly flat mile
Mile 18 - 19:55 we hit the pipeline aid station and spent a long time here. This is our first bag drop. I left my gloves here and got some brew GU for my handheld and filled it with water. I ate cookies and chips. I waited around for the rest of the group to get all their stuff taken care of. Jayna came in a little behind us with her nose bleeding and she told us to go on and she would keep plowing along. She seemed in good spirits so after a got a few pictures we headed out. As soon as you leave the aid station you hit this ski slope going down loose dirt/Scree. (500’ ascent) This was my favorite part of the race. As most people were going down real slow and holding onto everything they could find I just skied down the slope. The dirt was loose but soft. I was down to the bottom in about a min. I pulled my camera back out and took pictures of Edgar and Shaheen as they came down 4 min later.
Mile 19 - 10:37 the next 3 miles were the easiest of the race. Mostly jeep trails with a slight decent.
Mile 20 - 9:53
Mile 21 - 9:21
Mile 22 - 13:06 we hit the next aid station. (Valle Grande) We had the longest gap between these stations at over 7 miles and some massive climbs. With only one water bottle I was concerned I might run out of water.
Mile 23 - 25:04 (760’ ascent) I was heading across fields with no real trail. I would walk for 30 seconds and then run for 30 seconds. It was hard to run very fast in the clumps of grass. We hit the rock field here.

Mile 24 - 27:47 (770’ ascent) after the rocks it was 2 miles straight up Cerro Grande. Here is where I had to drop back and Shaheen and Edgar went on. They were able to climb faster than me. In the back of my mind I figured I might catch them by the end.
Mile 25 - 15:20 (740’ descent) once we got to the top of Cerro Grande there was a nice downhill. This mile however was a case of too rocky and steep as well as I was recovering from climbing the mountain.

Mile 26 - 10:29 (580’ descent) I was rolling down the Caᾖon de Valle pretty good now. I had to slow down a little cause every time I would get below a 10 min pace my ribs were starting to hurt. It felt like I had been in a prize fight. I guess it was all the descending and ascending had used a lot of new muscles. I will need to kick up my core work a bit before my next trail Ultra. For the first time in years I am going to stop worrying about my weight and try to build some muscle. Maybe I can stop looking like a skinny runner.
Mile 27 - 10:41 the next two miles were more of the same. I only saw a few runners as the field had spread out. I kept wondering if I would see my friends at the next aid station.
Mile 28 - 12:20 I was starting to feel some bad chafing on my right thigh.
Mile 29 - 11:56
Mile 30 - 19:57 I reached the Pajarito Canyon aid station where our second drop bag was located. A young boy brought my bag as soon as I got to the station. They would see our number from off in the distance and call it out so they were ready for us. As much as I tried to have a game plan going into these stations I was not getting everything I needed. I got my body glide and GU Brew drink done and trash disposed as well as reloaded with gels. I probably should have dropped my camera as I was no longer taking pictures. I could have loaded up on drink mix for the next couple of stations. At each stop I would grab a cup of coke and chips and cookies.
Mile 31 - 18:14 (400’ ascent) It was 4 miles to the next aid station and it was getting hot and each mile was uphill. Each mile I kept saying to myself. “Make this mile the best it can be.” I was trying to stay as close to a 15 min pace as possible. At this point my overall pace was still below a 15 min pace overall but some real tough miles laid ahead.
Mile 32 - 15:17 (200’ ascent) I did a good job of picking off some runners as others were starting to struggle in the heat. I ran by one guy that looked like he was dressed for Badwater with full white long sleeve and hat with flaps to cover his neck. It was probably 60 degrees so I didn’t find it all that hot.
Mile 33 - 18:38 (400’ ascent)
Mile 34 - 22:33 here I hit the Townsite Lift aid station. Filled my water and ate some cookies and took a gel. Once I left the station I was talking to a guy that had run this race many times and he was sure I was not ready for this race as a road racer and he was surprised I was doing this well. When I explained that my friends were ahead he said I would see them again because they were going too fast. I wasn’t paying attention and just following him and three other people. He said we had gone too far so we yelled at the people in front of us and turned around. I was very mentally defeated at this point. I just started walking back as everyone else in the group ran. This was the start of the worst patch in the race for me.
Mile 35 - 27:11 we found the trail again and we started to climb up Pajarito Mountain. It was a big ski slope with some switchbacks and lots of straight up climbing. There was almost no running the next few miles.
Mile 36 - 24:40 this area was very hard to navigate. There were plenty of tree covered areas were marking were hard to locate. I would have to stop and look around for orange flags. A couple times I had to go back 50 yards as I missed the trail. This could have been marked a little better. I noticed that I was going uphill so slow and yet I was breathing very heavy and sweating. To top it off I would see snow on the ground so it couldn’t have been too hot. I thought about dropping out so many times going up this mountain. I kept thinking that my body was in trouble and running out of gas. I reached the top of Pajarito Mountain at the end of this mile.
Mile 37 - 25:21 (1000’ descent) Here is where I had to go straight down a ski slope. It was so steep that I was not able to go all that fast. Here is where the good trail runners separate themselves. That is a skill and confidence I will have to develop. At the bottom I reached the Ski Lodge aid station. Edgar and Steve B were just leaving. Amy had already bombed down the hill and taken off by herself. Shaheen was in a chair with her ankle wrapped up. She would have to drop here. I would find out later that Jayna would arrive just after I left and would be forced to drop here as well. I ate a brownie, filled my water bottle and took off. I had a huge since of relief that I had passed the last cut off station and all I had to do was walk it in from here and I would finish. I started to feel better each mile.
Mile 38 - 14:30 finally a flat mile and I was able to get in a decent pace. I was running with another man that was real nice and he too was surprised I was where I was with almost no trail or altitude experience.
Mile 39 - 16:21 another mile with only a little uphill. I knew I was getting close to the pipeline station so I continued to push a little more.

Mile 40 - 20:19 I finally reached the Pipeline aid station. This would be the last time I would see my drop bag. I dropped off my camera after I had one of the people take a couple of pictures of me. They were laughing at me because every time they would offer me anything I told them that would be awesome. I also left my t-shirt in the bag and just ran with my singlet. I had a root beer Popsicle. As soon as I got out of there I had a long climb the next mile. This was the last hard miles. I realized after I left the station that I didn’t fully restock my fuel belt and all I had for the next 11 miles was 3 gels. As long as I didn’t bonk I would be fine. I was also wearing a fuel belt with nothing in it.
Mile 41 - 14:44 A flat mile along a mountain ridge and I was able to pick up the pace. For about a 1/2mile I didn’t see anyone of markings and I was a little worried I had missed a turn.
Mile 42 - 13:22 (300’ descent) this was a nice downhill mile. I could see some runners and I was starting to pick them off.
Mile 43 - 14:28 I passed a woman in sandals before the Guaje Ridge aid station. She skipped the station and passed me back. After the station I ran her back down. She would stay on my tail the rest of the race and push me thru the finish.
Mile 44 - 15:07 from here to the end was my best miles of the race. I felt in control and plenty of energy.
Mile 45 - 12:14
Mile 46 - 12:29 all these miles were out in the open with lots of sun light. Runners were pretty spread out. I would pass about one person every half mile.
Mile 47 - 12:37 thru all of these last few miles I could feel the women in the sandals right behind me. I kept pushing because I didn’t want anyone to catch me. She must have also been a big deal cause when we got to the last aid station they had a birthday cake for her. I told her to eat a piece while I took a small lead.
Mile 48 - 13:58
Mile 49 - 16:19 last aid station. Before I got there I saw all these signs advertising last chance for beer, whine, whisky and pie. I stopped and had a cup of beer. As soon as I left the aid station I ran into David Hanenburg. We exchanged a few quick words and I kept moving up the hill as best I could. I decided it was time to start running the up hills as best I could.
Mile 50 - 11:41 Overall these last miles were relatively flat I and I am very happy I could still move this good.
Mile 51 – 12:37 because of some missed turns my race was 50:68 miles long. I kept pushing the pace and waiting for the finish. Finally I got to a big rock formation that went up hill so I had to walk it a few seconds.

Total - 13:30:59.
I finished 68 out of 118 finishers
162 started, 31 DNF, 13 switched to the 50K

It is so hard to put in to words what I felt after this race. I was the last to finish of the group but I still felt such a huge since of accomplishment. So many emotions came over me during this race. So many times I questioned if I could run 50 miles. I am so proud of the other runners in my group. Amy finished in 12:21 and was the 5th overall female. Steve B finished in 12:58 and Edgar right behind him in 12:59. Jayna and Shaheen had foot and ankle injuries that forced them to drop out at mile 36. As I walked into the shack I had the biggest smile on my face. I hope to come back next year and go sub 12 hours. The reality is because of where I live I will need to predominantly train on the roads but I will race on the trails. I came out of the race feeling pretty good.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Boston Marathon 2011

This whole marathon was a last minute thing and I only got a bib in the last week. There was no real taper as I ran 81 miles the previous week. I hadn’t done any speed since Houston due to a small injury 4 weeks ago. I was going to have to run this whole thing on aerobic fitness/endurance. I flew down Saturday morning and went to the Expo. Sunday morning I did my Aussie carb load run and felt great. 800 was at 5:40 pace. Had the usual struggles of getting into a breakfast place fast enough and we saw the 5K first. We had some bagels in hand so we were able to get something in us. The rest of the day we walked too much but had a great meal and got to bed on time. I have been eating a lot less meat the last 10 days and I wasn’t sure what that would mean for me on race day. I was able to hold my weight down for the first time ever in the taper. We took a charter bus so we didn’t have to be on it till 7:30 gave us time to wake up later and have a good breakfast. The charter was much larger than the school bus from the year before. This is how the Damn King rolls. On the bus I listened to music to set my mood and wrote some splits on my arm because I forgot my pace band. I realized 3 miles into the race that I wrote them all as faster than MP so I made an error and so I had no idea which ones were correct. I had studied this course so much that I knew what I needed to do. Planned MP was 6:47. I was fine with a 5 sec swing either way. I took my first GU 10 min before the start.
Mile 1 - 6:50 (Hopkinton) Controlled first mile as I ran with the crowd. I started in corral 2.
Mile 2 - 6:28 easy downhill mile and I felt great but I was 10+ seconds fast here
Mile 3 - 6:35 (Ashland) This mile is a fast so I was right on pace. Honestly I am not use to the idea that a 6:35 is a good pace for a marathon. It sounds a lot faster than it feels.
Mile 4 - 6:25 This mile was also 10 seconds fast. I have never had such fresh legs for a marathon.
Mile 5 - 6:41 First mile with net uphill but just barely. I was still a little fast but not too bad. This is where my mind started to think of 2:56. Too early to lay down the hammer and I probably need to get back on pace before I blow my race. I am usually much better about sticking to my plan.
Mile 6 - 6:47 more rolling hills but this was a net down. I was back on pace although this should have been a faster mile. I knew 6 was a fast mile but I was just running real easy and going off feel. Took my second GU. I was also mixing Gatorade between GUs. I was trying to hydrate early so I would have a full tank thru the hills and after them.
Mile 7 - 6:46 Ran this mile on pace.
Mile 8 - 6:51 This mile was a little slow but still in my 5 second window.
Mile 9 - 6:52 I was 13 seconds slow on this one and I was starting to wonder if I was starting to feel the lack of a taper. In the back of my mind I knew many people doubted me for not tapering for 2-3 weeks. It put a chip on my shoulder and that is how I like it.
Mile 10 - 6:54 This is supposed to be a slow mile but I still didn’t like seeing a plus 3 hour pace.
Mile 11 - 6:52 This mile was right on pace but I had seen too many of these in a row. I was wondering if I would be holding on for a sub 3 or even dropping back and picking up a friend.
Mile 12 - 6:31 I hit Wellesley here. I moved over to the left to avoid the girls but this year instead of looking down like a shy boy I looked over to see the girls and all the signs. I saw guys stopping for hugs and kisses. I instantly thought of my wife and all the sacrifices she makes for me to run all these miles and races. I decided I was going to give everything I had for the next 1:30+ and see what happened.
Mile 13 - 6:36 I hit the halfway point at 1:28:19. About 15 seconds behind my original plan. I felt very strong at this point. I took my third GU.
Mile 14 - 6:43 I knew I needed to conserve energy the next 3 miles before the hills.
Mile 15 - 6:50 Another mile right on pace.
Mile 16 - 6:34 This mile was supposed to be even a little faster but I wasn’t going to press as the hills were up next.
Mile 17 - 7:00 First Newton hill which was very long. I thought about pressing just a little thru the hill so I wouldn’t have a single mile in the 7s. I decided to let my ego suffer and try to run a smart race.
Mile 18 - 7:02 Second Newton at fire station. I was having trouble finding which was the second hill.
Mile 19 - 6:56 This mile was a little downhill and should have been a lot faster. I was just thinking survive the hills. By the 30K mark I felt good but I was already just over marathon pace and I was going to have to get past 2 more hills and really pick up the pace. I felt 2:58 was slipping. Took my 4th GU and thought would it be enough.
Mile 20 - 6:58 john Kelly Statue, hill #3. Good pace on this mile and I felt ready to finish off the hills. This year I didn’t seem to pass as many people on the hills as last year.
Mile 21 - 7:09 Heartbreak hill. I felt strong going up and I didn’t think I would need to recover long. Told a guy going up that we were done with the hills and ready to race. I was about to leave so many people I had run around for the whole race. This was the only mile all day that I could hear my breathing.
Mile 22 - 6:29 My plan was to recover for ¼ mile and then hit the gas. I didn’t need to recover as after a ¼ mile my pace was 6:10 and I was hitting the breaks. In hindsight I should have just laid the hammer all the way down. I was afraid at low 6 pace I would flame out by the end. This mile tells the story in this race. If you have legs and can hit pace then you are good. If not then just hope you can run fast enough that the BC students don’t yell at you.
Mile 23 - 6:49 I really thought I ran this mile much faster. Now that I look at splits it is just kind of average. I know I had planned for a fade the last 3 miles so I didn’t need too much but I needed to make up some ground.
Mile 24 - 6:51 Another mile that I thought I ran faster. Starting to pass tons of runners and now I was seeing all new people from the rest of the race.
Mile 25 - 6:45 Still feeling strong and I probably need to go now.
Mile 26 - 6:31 I am not sure if I am going to run a 2:57 or :58. Math doesn’t work this late in the race. I am feeling real strong here and storming by everyone. I was wishing I knew were my group was cheering out. I wanted to go by them, flex my muscles and yell “You thought I would fade”.
Mile 26.2 - 5:44 I felt so strong down the stretch. I was passing tons of runners, pumping my fist and even point up to God. I was so thankful he gave me the strength to be there and run a good race.
Total - 2:58:00 PR (9 marathon PRs in a row)
5k-20:40 / 10K-41:30 / 15k-1:02:48 / 20K-1:23:56 / Half-1:28:19 / 25K-1:44:51 / 30K-2:06:30 /
35K-2:27:59 / 40K-2:49:16
Finished 1228 up 800 spots from last year.

So this was not really a text book preparation for a race. I think with another week of taper and some sharpening I could have shaved another 1-2 min off. I don’t think the hard 20 mile run the week before was a typical run 8 days out. On the other hand I took a week off 4 weeks ago so I had a chance to freshen up and I had strong legs and confidence coming in to the race. I did a lot more core work and added yoga once a week the last two months and I think that helped me get a lot stronger in my mid-section. Trail running has also made me stronger. I like to think I am a smart runner and mentally strong. I want to thank all of Dallas Running Project for making me stronger. I really am on the lower half of this group in speed and I am motivated by so many of these runners to get faster. A special thanks go out to Joe, Michael, Jen, Jayna and Shaheen for running with me and encouraging me to run Boston when I was not sure I could swing it. You all support me emotionally, physically and financially. As always a big thanks to my wife Sunny and my boys. You support and inspire me daily to train and reach for new levels.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Grasslands Marathon 2011

This race was to be a long training run. This is not supposed to be a technical trail and a chance to build more trail experience and muscles. I would love to find a way to do a long trail run every Saturday. After I spoke with a lot of friends that have run this course I decided to go with a road shoe. I went with the Brooks T6. I think the launce might have been a better option but no real problems to speak of. At the last minute Shaheen got a bib so she could ride down with me and run with me. This made the day 1000 times better. I had someone to talk to both during the drive and for most of the race we ran together. These trail races are so awesome. It is so relaxed everyone is so cool. Before the race I saw Libby, Mike K, Tim, Mike (Pedro) and finally met Kim Gray. She is a nut running two marathons this week. What a great idea. I will put it on my list.

Mile 1 - 8:57. The goal was to go out at a 9 min pace or whatever felt real comfortable. We started out a little too far back in the pack we passed all but maybe 10 people the first 2 miles. It was a pretty easy pace.
Mile 2 - 8:25. We picked up the pace this mile as we worked our way around more people.
Mile 3 - 8:37. This would end up being about our average pace for the entire race including stops at aid stations.
Mile 4 - 8:04. By now we had broken away from the pack and we were positioned perfectly between two runners. One ahead to open the cattle gates and one behind us to close them.
Mile 5 - 8:04. We are starting to learn that you need to really watch all the trail marking and not just blindly follow the runner in front of you. We never got off course but we had to call out some turns to the guy in front.
Mile 6 - 8:22. The sand is getting deep and we are learning to deal with it. When I hear another runner struggling with something it makes me stronger. If I hear them complain about temperature, wind or the trail I know that it is bothering them and I can deal with it.
Mile 7 - 8:16. A couple of runners (orange shirt and blue shirt guy) pull away from us and we back off and let them go. I figure there are 3-5 guys up in the front that we will never see and about 5 that will fade and we will run down by the end.
Mile 8 - 8:34. We pass the second aid station and we only stop for a second to dispose of our GEL trash. We still have 10 oz. of water left each and we can make it another 4/5 miles to the main aid station. The next two miles are the toughest with the deep sand. I get the feeling Shaheen has not spent too much time at the beach. But she is tough as nails and learns to adapt.
Mile 9 - 8:51. It is interesting in the sand how you try to go side to side looking for the firmest path to avoid the soft sand. I see some people moving off trail to try to avoid it but I don’t feel it is slowing me down too much and I figure if I run in it I well get stronger. Shaheen follows me like I have some secret. Little does she know that I am trying to work harder. We also have to open and close a cattle gate this mile which is about a 15-20 second delay.
Mile 10 - 8:08. The sand lets up a little and the pace picks up.
Mile 11 - 8:26.
Mile 12 - 8:17.
Mile 13 - 9:42. We hit the main aid station here. We had about 1 ½ min stop. Bathroom, refilled handhelds with water and I grabbed a couple cookies for the road. So the pace was pretty good. Loved having Mike K there at the aid station for me. He refilled our water, told us we weren’t too far back from the leaders and told me the Blue trail (second half) had a lot less sand. He said we looked good and Shaheen was the first female. I told him I would be back in 20 min. (joke)
Mile 14 - 8:40. We had a couple of spots where I had to make a judgment call on what direction to go. Each time we would run 200 yards nervous we had missed a marking and then we would see the trail. There was a lot of stress if I made a wrong turn because Shaheen and another guy Steve was following us.
Mile 15 - 8:37. We start running into some of the half runners. I am a little surprised we are seeing them so soon but these must be the walkers. About ½ of them know to move to the right and the others don’t. Headphones are not a good idea on a trail race. Some of these people couldn’t hear us calling out as we were coming.
Mile 16 - 8:55. We also hit another gate this mile. Somewhere around here Steven caught us and passed us. I made a mental note of what he looked like. White shirt and Camelbak.
Mile 17 - 9:13. We hit an aid station here. We were there about 40 seconds. Shaheen topped off her water and I disposed of my second gel and got another cookie. I was getting my money back on these fignewtons.
Mile 18 - 8:23. We are passing tons of half marathoners. But other than the other runners the trail is very easy. The white trail which was the first half of the race was a much more difficult trail than the Blue trail which is the second half of the course.
Mile 19 - 8:36. Shaheen starts to fall back just a few feet at this point. I can see some marathoners that I hadn’t seen since the starting line.
Mile 20 - 8:52. Here was the hard mental part of the race. I had plenty left in my tank but this was a training run. We had a vote with racing Nick and training Nick if we should slow down to a 9 min pace or continue with the current pace and catch some of the marathoners.
Mile 21 - 8:23. As you can see my ego and racing Nick won so we kept a good pace and passed a couple of marathon runners. I figured I was about 7th or 8th place by now but that is just a guess.
Mile 22 - 8:45.
Mile 23 - 10:23. This is the last aid station. Took my third gel, refilled my water and ate a cookie. I spent about 2 min at this aid station. I waited for Shaheen and when she got to this station I could tell the heat was getting to her and she needed to eat and drink. Ego Nick was having a tough time because when I first got to the station I saw a couple more marathon runners. I felt real bad leaving Shaheen but I figured she needed a few more min. She was either going to have to walk the last 3+ miles or run them. There was no ride home from here.
Mile 24 - 8:14 I figured those 2 marathoners had 2 min on me and I could get one min per mile and run them down by the end.
Mile 25 - 8:17. I had picked up the pace a little but I felt very strong. I caught the one marathon runner (blue shirt) this mile. We talked for a few seconds and he told someone we passed that he was going to hang on to me to the end. We had a good climb along the lake and I hammered out the next ¼ mile to drop him. I know, not very trail like.
Mile 26 - 7:54. I could see the next marathoner (Orange Shirt) as I caught him he had slowed quite a bit. I flew by him and said hi. I wasn’t sure if I would see Camelbak guy but I was giving all I had to run him down. I could see the cars and figured he was too strong to catch. With less than ¼ mile to go I finally saw him and I caught him. He sounded disappointed when I flew by but congratulated me on looking strong.

Total: 3:42:31.
Distance: 25:82
Pace: 8:37

I was very happy with my race. I had taken it somewhat easy and had a lot left in the tank in the end. I think I ended up around 5th place overall but I don’t know. Trail races don’t spit out the results right away. But as I am learning trail races is not about the time or even about the place unless you are top three. It is about enjoying the race and finishing. I have a lot to learn. I have never had more fun in a race and I need to give a special thanks to Shaheen for coming out and running with me. She was only a few min behind me and she recovered, ran a strong last 3 miles and caught a couple of those guys as well. She appeared to be the first female by 15 or so min. running next to her always makes you a rock star. Now I need to go find another trail race. I am addicted. As always a big special thanks to my amazing wife Sunny for holding down the fort and letting me spend my Saturday out of town racing.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Cross Timbers ½ Marathon Trail Race

I have never run on a technical trail but always wanted too. I never seem to figure out how to get on one. All the trails are a good 45+ min from my house and I never seem to have the time to add that time to my run. Last December I decided to find a short race and sign up. I signed up for the Half and I signed up Christopher my 12 year old for the 5 mile. I picked up Christopher after school on Friday and we drove out to Lake Texoma. We went to pick up our packets and have the pre-race meal. Went back to our cabin were we watched Simpsons on the laptop and fell asleep before 9 PM. We got up at 6 AM and got ready to go. I put a bagel in the oven but I forgot about it and burned it. I threw it out and put in another bagel and timed this one for 3 min. It was too long and it burned too. I put in a third bagel and finally got this one right. We drove to the start were we saw some friends Neil and Jennifer that were running the full. After they took off at 7:00 AM we got ready for our start at 7:30 AM. Christopher legs were very sore from running track all week at school and after he warmed up he couldn’t get his legs loose so he decided to sit this one out. Because of the size of the field 120+ people they were going to have us run 3 loops (1/4 mile each) around the roads till we hit the trail.

Mile 1 - 7:38 ¾ mile was on the roads. We went out at a 7:15 pace. I wanted to go a little faster but I wanted to keep some people with me. I didn’t want to be the first person on the trail. I hit the trail around 3rd place. After a couple hundred yards 4 or 5 guys coming flying past my little group. They were running our same pace on flat ground and uphill but they were much faster on the technical decents.

Mile 2 - 9:08 I was still trailing two other guys and just trying to learn how they handled the trails.

Mile 3 - 11:03 I hit some more technical areas so I stayed behind these two guys. They were slowing me down on flat parts but I had no idea how my legs would hold out over the long haul so decided to hold back.

Mile 4 - 10:12 I hit the first water station and took one very small cup of water and took off. After the stop I was in the second position as one of the guys took a little longer at the rest station. This mile started off pretty easy and I could hear another guy coming up on us fast. We hit a road for 100 yards and the front guy let me pass and the fast guy behind us came by me. I jumped on his tail and let him pull me along.

Mile 5 - 9:53 This guy was the real deal. I was starting to form an opinion and some of the routes he would take I would second guess after we got there. This is where the people of the race started to show how different they were. At one point he told me we were on the tougher path and needed to drop down. We are also catching some of the marathon runners and they step off the trail to let us pass and they say words of encouragement.

Mile 6 - 9:52 By the end of this mile the fast guy starts to pull away from me. I knew the winning pace from last year was 9:50 so I didn’t see a reason to push and harder that this pace.

Mile 7 - 11:12 There were some really tough technical sections in this mile. We hit one section were we had to climb with our hands up a rock face. Saw the three lead guys coming back here. The leader Tim had introduced himself to me before the race and encourage me as he went by.

Mile 8 - 12:45 Hit the turnaround water station. The 4th guy left shortly after I got there. I had 2 cups at drink and I looked around in amazement for another min at all the candy and treats. I was in candy heaven but I was afraid to eat that stuff. I thanked the volunteers and then took off.

Mile 9 - 10:32 I was passing all the half and full runners still heading out. They were so nice. If the trail was narrow they would step off the trail for me to pass.

Mile 10 - 11:06 I was getting tired here and I think I hear someone behind me and I look back at switchbacks. I find it hard to look at my watch or look back on the trails. It takes everything when I am running alone to watch my step and keep finding the tape markings on the trail.

Mile 11 - 10:39 I start to see the guy in front of me but then he disappears and I think I am imagining things. Am I this tired? I fear I will get too tired and fall. I continue to focus on my steps. As I see the other runner more often I start to pick up my pace. By the end of this mile I have caught him.

Mile 12 - 11:18 We get to the last water stop and the guy there tells us we are 6 min behind the #3 guy so it is up to the two of us to battle it out for 4th and 5th place. I look at the other runner and say let’s go. I take off pretty strong and I gap him pretty fast.

Mile 13 - 9:59 I keep saying to myself “I want 4th place”. So I keep pressing and just hope this guy doesn’t have a big kick. Not sure where you would kick on a trail.

Mile 14 - 12:01 pace Just when I think I have it in the bag. I run up on two young teens. The girl is down and she hit her head on a tree. She appears fine and she is with this other teen so I figure she is fine so I move on. Going up the last big climb I trip on a root and fall on my hands. As I get back up I am breathing very hard so I walk up this hill and then I start to run again when I get to the top of the hill. A couple more turns and I see the finish.

Total was 2:20:05 for 4th place overall

I really enjoyed the race and I had to adjust my mindset. It’s not about time and more about placement and for most of the runners just finishing. I had a good time at the finish line visiting with other runners. I already signed up for my next trail run. I am running the Jemez 50 mile trail race in May.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Houston Marathon 2011

After Chicago I decided to kick up my training a bit. Mileage would still be in the 70-85 range with very hard Track, Hills and Tempo runs each week. I was going to run the hills and long runs faster. I was going to eliminate the need for good weather for a marathon PR and sub3. Training went great and I put up PRs in the Half, 5K and 10k twice. The week before the marathon I made the mistake of working too hard in the yard and pulled my back a bit. Not something I couldn’t manage as my weak back gets like this now and then. I flew down to Houston on Friday for work. I went to the Expo during the day and spend the night with my Uncle Nickey. I got up Saturday and got in my 3 mile Aussie carb load run. Met up with the crew and we all watched Dawn PR at the Half Championships. When I got up the next morning for the race I was well rested but my back was very tight. I was very angry about the weather and I was talking to Sunny and praying to God to calm me down and go run my race. Both of my marathons this fall and winter were very warm. I run much better in the 40s. Got to GRB convention center by 6:15 and got out to the starting line by 6:45. It was 63 degrees, 100% humidity

Mile 1 - 6:58. This was one of the toughest miles of the day. My back was killing me and I thought about quitting. The pain was shooting down my left leg. I remembered all the tough track workouts and how everyone in DRP and 320 were tracking me. Pain I can live with.
Mile 2 - 6:47. Back was starting to loosen up a little but my stride was still very bad. We were coming back off the bridge we climbed the first mile so I made up the lost time.
Mile 3 - 6:53. I take my first gel here. I am just trying to find 6:52 pace without pushing too hard.
Mile 4 - 6:50. I hear some Christian rock music and it lifts my spirits.
Mile 5 - 6:43. I am starting to think I need to hit the 10K on pace cause everyone tracking me will get that split.
Mile 6 - 6:48. A few rolling hills around here and the rain picks up a little.
Mile 7 - 6:49. I figured by now if I feel it I can pick up the pace a little and keep it up till 18. I plan to bank 30 seconds by mile 18 and run even splits thru the last 8 miles. This is a change due to the warmer weather.
Mile 8 - 6:47. I see the family for the first time here. This is the first time my 5 year old twins have come out to see me race. Wow, did that ever give me a boost. I instantly went from sad and no confidence in myself to thinking I am a pretty big deal to these two little boys. I raced by and tried to give them a high five but I guess I stepped in a hole and turned my ankle and almost went down. I think I heard Luke say out loud that high fives while running was dangerous. I was fine.
Mile 9 - 6:52. Heading into Rice University. I lived in this area till I was 5 years old. I take my second Roctane gel here. Followed by a belch ¼ mile later.
Mile 10 - 6:54. I had problems in this mile the year before. I don’t think it is up hill.
Mile 11 - 6:44. The 3 hour pace group comes flying past me in this mile. As you can see my pace picks up but they are going even faster. I finally tell myself that I am just under 3 hr pace and they are banking time. I know that I will catch and pass them before the finish.
Mile 12 - 6:49. I feel pretty good here even with the pace group a couple hundred yards ahead.
Mile 13 - 6:47. So they have a clock at 13 mile mark and not at the half. I cross the half at 1:29:36. Now if I could just run another 1:30 half.
Mile 14 - 6:52. This is the big hill and I am starting to feel even better. All those hill runs pay off and I catch up a lot of ground on the 3 hr pace group.
Mile 15 - 6:43. See the family for the second time here and again you can see the pace really pick-up. High fives go much better this time. I take my third Roctane gel here.
Mile 16 - 6:49. I am caught up to the 3 hr pace group and I figure I can run with them for a while. Surly they will finish with time to spare.
Mile 17 - 6:54. Last mile till we turn toward the finish. I am confused why the pace group would slow here.
Mile 18 - 6:59. Another slow mile. We still have 20 seconds in the bank. My goal from here on out is nothing slower than 6:52.
Mile 19 - 6:54. I pull to the front of the pace group as people are falling off right and left.
Mile 20 - 6:50. The hills are starting to roll but I feel very strong and confident.
Mile 21 - 6:52. I take my 4th Roctane gel here. No more food or water from here on out.
Mile 22 - 6:59. I see the family for the last time here. About a 1/3 into the mile I pull away from the pace group as we are doing a 7:15 pace. What are they doing? Why is the pacer letting it die like this?
Mile 23 - 6:58. I look back and wonder why I let those 6 seconds a mile slip away here. I am sure at the time I am giving all I had.
Mile 24 - 7:00. I remember pushing in this part and still pace is not good. Lots of bridges in the last 4 miles till the last mile in downtown.
Mile 25 - 7:01. I see the clock and I am 6 seconds behind on pace. I figure with the difference between gun and chip time I am probably even I just have to cash in all my chips now. I am still ahead of the pace group by 10 seconds so I must be OK.
Mile 26 - 6:34. This tells me I had I little left in the tank. We hit a spot we had cheered for Dawn the day before and I figure this should be flat and fast. We hit a big head wind and I am all alone so no one to tuck behind.
Mile 26.2 - 6:10. For the last .35 mile. Yeah, Garmin’s are not exact but I was taking my overall time off the mile markers so I figured I had a shot. I sprint with all I have down the finish. We hit the first mat before the clock hits 3 hrs but it is 100 yards before the big finish line. I was hoping that was the line but I guess not.
Total - 3:00:11. PR by 5:37. A few seconds off my goal but I am very happy with my performance and effort.
I finished 111 out of 6899 finishers; 13th in my age group

I am very satisfied with this result. My training was perfect with my only error was manual labor one week out. I can’t control the weather and my pacing was pretty good. I have come to the realization that I will always have a little fade unless the course ends downhill. Houston is not a flat course but it is fair. That is eight marathon PR’s in a row: Chicago 2008 (3:28); White Rock 2008 (3:25); Austin 2009 (3:23); St George 2009 (3:11 - first BQ); Houston 2010 (3:09); Boston 2010 (3:06); Chicago 2010 (3:05) and Houston2011 (3:00). Next goal will be sub 2:56. I am not sure if that will be this spring or next fall. As I get older I will only get faster. A special thanks go out to my wife Sunny who makes a lot of sacrifices so I can train so hard.