Monday, March 14, 2011

The Gusher Half Marathon

This past Saturday was the Gusher Half Marathon in Beaumont, TX. I signed up for this race last year sometime because I really wanted the medal. I put it on the calender and kinda just forgot about it.  After last weekend's insane mileage and my crazy workload at work, I hadn't even gotten in a recovery run or adequate rest time. Needless to say, I wasn't expecting much out of this race. I was just going to take it easy and run it.

I had planned on getting up early race morning and driving the 1+ hour to Beaumont on my own and just drive back when it was over. But Hubby offered to go with me Friday night, so we drove over in time for packet pickup and I settled in for a good night's rest. The hotel offered a shuttle to the start, so I'd planned to be up and ready by 6 am. Umm...never trust a hotel alarm clock. The nice shuttle driver called at 6am wondering where I was and woke me up. I was actually having a dream that it was 7:30am and I had missed the start of the race!
So I threw on my clothes as fast as possible and ran out the door. I realized that I left Marvin the Garmin at home on the charger, but there was no time to fret about it now. Nor time to debate about the skirt I bought yesterday to run in. I just put it on and ran. Hubby was going to have the luxury of going back to bed.
Turns out he couldn't go back to sleep, so he ventured out to catch me at the start. It was very nice of him to come out (and even take pictures!). The race was very small, but was pretty well organized. Last year was the first year they put it on and I heard that there were no mile markers and they ran out of water. They definitely fixed those kinks this year.
The race started on time and we were off. I saw 3 guys wearing the Marathon Maniacs shirts. Kinda makes me want to join the Half Fanatics, but I'm not sure. Today I was definitely not a fanatic. In fact, I wanted to drop down to the 5k. The only thing that kept me going was my pride and the medal. My muscles were still sore from last weekend and I could tell from the beginning it wasn't going to be a good run. My lungs have been tight since last weekend and I coughed a lot during the race. We weaved around the college and then out onto the closed off highway for about a 4 mile stretch. Highway? Boring. I did that last weekend! Haha. The turn around was in downtown Beaumont and they had us weaving through the streets to pick up extra miles. Downtown was the prettiest part of the race and the sun was starting to come out. But then we hit the highway again and it was boring all over again. I couldn't wait for the finish line. Since I didn't have a watch, I was totally running on feel and I knew I was going slow.

Hubby stuck around while I ran and waited for me to finish and caught this video. I'm definitely not sprinting to the end, but I'm still giving it everything I had. There just wasn't anything in the tank. At least I'm running and not walking, right? 

 This picture pretty much sums up how I felt for most of the race. Actually, to be honest, this picture is worse. My lungs tightened up almost completely when I finished and it took a bit to suck in a good breath. FML

But slow and steady wins the race, right?, but they do get an awesome medal!

Final time: 2:10:07
Good enough for 14th in my age group. Maybe I will try the race again next year - if I'd run 1:59 like I have 3x before, I'd have come in 4th!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Texas Independence Relay

As I've mentioned on here before, I got the wild and crazy idea last fall to put a team together to run the Texas Independence Relay. When we started organizing the team in October, we had 12 runners (the max and desired amount). Through the months until the actual race, we lost runners due to injury and other time commitments. 2 weeks before the race, we had 10 runners - still doable, but we were looking for more. By one week out, we were down to 9 and three days before, 8. 8 runners who did not train for a relay and only one of us had ever run more than a half marathon.
But we were determined. My team: Give Me Liberty or Race Me to Death! We raised money for Team Red, White and Blue - helping wounded veterans getting reintroduced into society (we are still raising money and if you feel like helping our cause click here.
This race starts in Gonzales, TX - home of the Battle of Gonzales that started the was for Texas' independence from Mexico. The fight started over a cannon that Mexico had given the people of Gonzales and now Mexico wanted it back. Gonzales refused and said "Come and Take It!"

We drove the 2 hours to Gonzales Friday night and slept on the floor of the gym at the local college. This relay gives teams the ability to have anywhere from 8 to 12 runners and their choice of legs to run. There are 40 legs total, so that meant each of us had to run 5 legs (no runner could run one more leg than another).
Saturday morning came bright and early. Start times were given to each team based on their average pace so that most of the teams would finish between 1 and 5 pm on Sunday. Our official start time was 7:08am. With the firing of the cannon, we were off.
The first 1.12 miles we ran as a team. It was a nice little warm up around Gonzales. After that, my team split off and I kept running into the first leg. The run took me out of Gonzales and onto country roads towards the next town. 4.25 miles later, my team was there to greet me at the checkpoint and off the next runner went.
The beautiful county roads of Texas. It was really exciting waiting at the checkpoints for the runners to hand off. There were about 200 teams participating and most of them had themes and costumes. My team is already thinking of ideas for next year.
C about to overtake another runner. It was pretty fun in the beginning counting all the runners you would pass, but then the faster teams started to catch up and all we did was get passed!
My van had the second leg of the night. We started running around 1:30am in Wallis, TX and got to run the tema all the way into Houston and watch the sun come up. Running at night was so cool. There were other runners arond you for the most part, but it felt like just you and the stars.
Once we made it into Houston, we had some of our friends (some of them runners that could not be on the team this year) meet us at Memorial Park at one of the hand offs.
This was supposed to be my last leg of the day. D handing off to me in Memorial Park for the "Captain's Leg". I run pieces of this route all the time since I live closeby. The leg was 5.5 miles and was taking me into downtown along the bayou. It was a gorgeous day, perfect for running, but I was a little spent from having already run 4 legs.
Off I go. You can't tell here, but the course once I got to the bayou was lined with little Texas flags marking the way. It was a sight to see and helped push me a little. I ran past a guy walking to take his jacket off and he commented on my race bib. I stopped and walked with him and explained the race. He and his friends had wanted to do it, but never got around to signing up. I told him I was hurting a little and that this was my last leg and he offered to run me into downtown. What a nice guy! Turns out he was in the middle of a 20 mile training run for Boston! I stayed with him for about 2.5 miles, but he was trying to keep a 9:30 pace and my body just couldn't do it with the hilly course so I let him pull ahead.
I finally made it into downtown with only a couple walk breaks and handed off to H. Like the baton? It's a slap bracelet!
We had some time to kill, so silly pictures were definately called for. We were about 28 hours in at this point!
We did lots of stretching and relaxing between runners. And The Stick definately came in handy - there were even fights over who would get it next.
It was a long weekend and we were all tired and exhausted, but we did our best to encourage each teammate along the way. We always stopped and offered water and cheered a lot. D got the priveledge of the last leg and C and I were there to run him in the last 150 yards.
We've finished! Actually, we are on our way to the finish line. Just like we started, we finished together. This time we walked it though. It was 0.38 miles from the checkpoint to the monument and we relished every second of it.
204 miles, 8 runners, 32 hours 42 minutes and 10 seconds. We were rock stars!
The race ended at the San Jacinto Monument on the east side of Houston.  After 5 months of fighting Mexico while Davy Crockett was making his last stand at the Alamo, Sam Houston was signing the Declaration of Independence at Washington on the Brazos (where the monument sits). Texas was free from Mexico and was now it's own country.

This was the 4th running of this relay and is always held on the weekend Texas celebrates it's independence day (yes, we still celebrate even though we are part of the US now). Our medals are mini replicas of the monument (it will soon be a little statue for my desk). My team was awesome and everyone ran great times (much better than we predicted)! There were PRs all around - I even unofficially broke my 10K PR from the weekend before! We will definately be back next year - with 12 runners and awesome costumes!

My total mileage for the weekend? 26.2 miles. But that definately hurt much worse than an actual marathon!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Rodeo Run 10K

Sorry I've been a little mia lately - work has been so much crazier than normal and I haven't done much else. The other weekend was the Conoco Phillips Rodeo Run. I honestly signed up a few months ago and almost forgot about it. I haven't really had much time to train for it, but I went out with some friends to have a good time.
Here we are at the start. It was a nice overcast day with a nice cool wind. Great for a 9:30 start time. I've always wondered why they start this race so late and still manage to get so many participants. It's a 5k and 10k. This year they had over 14,000 runners!
The race runs through downtown along the rodeo parade course. As soon as the runners get by, the parade starts. It makes for some pretty good spectators in the first half.
Clay Walker was at the start. He was pointing out the group of "walkers" waiting to start and said "that's my group". Ha, he's so funny. Funny and cheesy - but he sings really well!
I absolutely love running downtown! There's something about the tall buildings and proximity to everything that I just love. I work down there and couldn't imagine being anywhere else.
First half is done. Now we're headed up the viaduct - the only big hills we have in Houston: man-made. This bridge is in the first mile of the marathon, but the last end of this race. We go across it, around the neighborhood, then back across to downtown.
I made it up the hill pretty well. I was feeling good and not watching my watch (it was dead anyway). I wanted this run to only be on feel. Since I didn't really train for it, I just wanted to go out and give it all I had. I had forgotten that the first incline on the way back was the steepest. I had to walk for about 20 seconds to lower my heart rate. After that, I managed to tackle the rest of the incline pretty well. Most of the runners were fading out so I had a chance to pass quite a few.
My favorite place! Baseball season is right around the corner. I was pretty exhausted by this point, but I knew the 6 mile marker was just in front of me. They changed the finish line this year, but I knew it couldn't be far. They had us run around a few corners before we could see the line, but I sprinted forward and finished with a smile on my face.
Rodeo Run 10k #3 complete. And with a new PR: 55:05!

I had previously sworn off this race because of the time of day and how hot is usually is. But my friends signed up this year and I just don't know how to say no. The race was as well organized as usual, but there was more offered at the finish line. Previously they had run out of gatorade by the 1 hour mark and there wasn't much else. This year, they had plenty of water and gatorade, plus fruit, candy, gogurt, 5 hour energy, icy hot patches, etc. N and I definately filled our bags with goodies to prep for our next adventure.