Monday, January 29, 2007

13.1 Wet, Humid, Wonderful Miles

I did it. I am officially a half-marathon finisher! Here is my proof.

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I am quite proud of my time too, considering my long run average was much slower, the weather (more on that in a moment) and the fact that it is sometimes hard to get a good pace in a race with thousands of people. Last week I was hoping for 2:40. Then the day of the race I figured I would be able to do 2:30. So to come in at 2:24:05 is quite an accomplishment. Especially since the whole race I felt like I was holding back. Anyway, here is my event rundown.

Saturday morning Jer and I met up with Kevin, Marissa and Eddie at our house so we could all drive down to South Beach for the expo. The expo was extremely well organized and spacious since they moved it from downtown to a bigger facility on South Beach. We wandered around and got all our loot. They switched the cotton tshirts this year to a dryfit running shirt which is ok but it's pretty heavy. I guess it's good for people who aren't from Miami but I don't think I'll be running in it much down here. They did give out really nice dryfit running caps too which are white and extremely light (good for the blazing sun). The hat totally made up for the shirt.

After the expo we headed home to relax for a bit. We filled up on turkey sandwiches, fruit and tons of water for lunch. We watched Talladega Nights to laugh and unwind. Then we caught a broadcast of the P.F. Changs Rock-N-Roll Marathon they were playing on one of the ESPN's. It was exciting to watch the runners, just regular people with one shared goal, and the crowds cheering them on. I couldn't believe in a few hours it was going to be me.

Later we ran down to the Knight of the Gables where Footworks was throwing the pre-race pasta party. We didn't eat but just stopped by to show support, say hello and wish everyone luck. Then we headed home for our own pasta party. We made whole wheat pasta with homemade garlic toast for dinner. Later, I relaxed in a hot bath for about an hour, which I think from now on will be my pre-race must-do. It made a huge difference. Afterwards, Jer and I drank hot tea and laid out our stuff for the morning.

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I didn't think I would be able to sleep, but I was out by 11pm and slept really well. I was worried a bit about the weather report saying there was going to be thunderstorms in the morning and a high of 79 degrees. The weather had been so nice all day, they could be wrong, right?

The alarm went off at 3:15am. Yes, that's right, 3:15. I felt pretty good and walked outside first thing to check the weather. Hot, thick air hit me like a brick wall as I noticed the puddles on the driveway rippling from the light shower. Maybe this is the worst of it. Maybe this is the "thunderstorm" in which they speak. It will clear up, South Florida rain never lasts long, (I'm sure you can see the ominous foreshadowing here).

So everyone met up at the house and we carpooled to downtown Miami. We found parking and made it to the Foorworks tent by 5:00am. I found Tracy and Lesley who I was running with and said my goodbyes to Jeremy and everyone else. We decided to try and find some Port-O-Potties with a shorter line and for some reason figured that the ones right in front of the corrals would be the ticket. As we stood in our half-hour line, the light sprinkle came back, which quickly turned to one of those crazy South Florida rainstorms that unleashes itself relentlessly for about 20 minutes. Everyone and everything got soaked. I kept telling myself I could deal with the rain as long as my shoes and socks stayed dry and I held up that false hope for about 10 minutes, then it was no use. By the time we lined up in the corrals my feet were squishing with every step and I was wringing out my clothes in a last ditch effort to lose some water weight.

When the announcer counted down to start we barely heard it since the speakers were covered in garbage bags to protect them. Fortunately the excitement helped our spirits and as soon as we crossed the start we felt a million times better. The rain died down to a light sprinkle about five minutes into the run and I barely felt a drop after that until it stopped completely. Of course at that point it was in the 70's with over 75% humidity. Love that tropical weather.

The course was beautiful. We started at the American Airlines Arena downtown and headed over the bridge towards the beach. Ran past the Port of Miami, cruise ships and Star Island. Headed up Ocean Drive on South Beach, back up the other side of the beach through some beautiful neighborhoods, over the Venetian Causeway, back through downtown and ended up at Bayfront Park. It is definitely a beautiful course and I recommend it for anyone who doesn't live here. While the crowd support is lacking a bit, the scenery really makes up for it. As I ran through my city, I wondered how I always forget how beautiful it can be. Here is the course from above:

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Our pace was good. We started out slow, but not too much slower than our Saturday morning runs. My plan was to run slow at the start, keep a good pace, skip the walk breaks after mile 10 and run it in at the end if I could. My plan actually worked great. Running with Tracy and Lesley helped me so much. We talked about random stuff the whole run to keep us busy. We made each other take the walk breaks in the beginning when others didn't want to. We stuck with each other during bathroom breaks and all helped to pace each other perfectly. Their families were there to support them and since most of my friends were already running, their support kept me going as well. So at mile ten we stopped the walk breaks and at mile twelve they told me to take off. I felt so good I wanted to see how well I could run it in without killing myself. I felt like a rockstar, passing everyone that last mile. It really is a testament to how well the walk/run program worked for me that I could take off the last mile and run it in at such a good pace and feel great. Here is a rundown of my splits:

1) 11:49 (start, rain and bridge)
2) 11:12
3) 11:35
4) 10:50
5/6) 23:54 (No mile marker at 5, plus a bathroom break)
7) 11:06
8) 10:49
9) 11:17
10) 11:09
11) 10:43 (no walk breaks)
12) 10:07 (no walk breaks)
13.1) 9:30 (big finish)

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More pictures here...

I really felt the whole time that I could have been running it faster which makes me feel good, but I was scared to take off and get too tired at the end. Plus, since it was my first, I just wanted to enjoy myself, the surroundings and my company. So I have no regrets, other than wishing the race was held today (one day later) instead (Sunny, high of 65 degrees). Oh well. At least at this point I am used to running in the rain and humidity. Although the huge blisters covering the bottom of my little toes from the wet shoes are a new adventure.

The end of the race was great. I relaxed at the Footworks tent, ate, drank beer, told race stories and watched all my friends come in. Due to the weather, everyone finished this years race a bit slower than the year before. Jeremy came in at 4:27, which he is not overly thrilled about. I just keep reminding him that he finished, didn't quit, didn't get injured and that is still a pretty damn good time. Of course he doesn't believe me. I know how hard it must be to work so hard to improve on something, only to have it end up worse. I think he just needs a cooler climate to run in.

The rest of the day was pretty good. We hung out alone with pizza and ice cream. Watched Get Shorty and the Simpsons and went to bed by 9pm. Life doesn't get much better than that folks.

Congratulations to Mark and Ali who got engaged at the start of the race!!!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Training's Done

I can't believe how long it's been since I updated this.

I've been busy as hell, but the good news is that I've been running. A lot. Jeremy and I have been running together which has been good for making me go out and do longer runs. Instead of being lazy and sticking to my 3-4.5 miles around campus, I have been getting my butt out of bed a couple times a week at 5:30am to drive to the Coral Gables Country Club to run around the golf course (5.6). It always seems like a horrid idea when I'm in bed, but once I'm up running around the course with J, talking about our day ahead, and watching the sun rise above the banyan trees and the fog settle on the golf course, it seems like the best place in the whole world. It's been a great way to start the day. Of course the days we sleep in is nice too.

Running more with Jeremy has been great for both of us, but especially me because it pushes me to run a bit faster. He never makes me, as a matter of fact, he is always encouraging me to slow myself to a comfortable pace. But running with him makes me want to push myself harder, and I love it. Not only have my 5.6 mile runs progressively gotten faster, but I have run my fastest 3.2 mile loops after running with him. Here's a look at my runs since I last updated.

1/4 - Elliptical 45 minutes, stretch
1/6 - 13 miles - 2:40:12 Good run, felt great until walk breaks around mile 11. Hurt to start running again.
1/7 - weights
1/8 - 5.6 miles - 56:41
1/10 - 5.6 miles - 55:05
1/13 - 10 miles - 1:50:05 - Good pace, ran closer to race pace.
1/15 - 5.6 miles - 53:40 - PR for course
1/17 - 3.2 miles - 29:02 - PR for course
1/22 - 5.6 miles - 56:53 - Slow taper run
1/24 - 2.94 miles - 27:36 - Slow taper run

I am feeling a bit anxious since I haven't run too much in the past two weeks. I missed the long run last weekend due to Mercy's bachelorette party. I know I am tapering, but it still makes me nervous for how things will go on Sunday. I just feel like it's been so song since I did a long run. Now I know what people are talking about when they say the taper makes them nutty. I thought they were crazy before, but now I see their point.

So now it's just chill time till gameday. Basically trying to eat well, sleep well and drink a lot of water. I think my plan for the big day is to run with the training group, specifically Leslie and Tracy and take walk breaks up to ten, then depending on how good my pace is, how my knees feel and how tired I am, I will just run the rest of the way in. I can do 3 miles without stops and the last time I did the 13 mile run, after mile 10 the walk breaks hurt more than they did good. While I was running I felt great, but then I would stop and starting up again was killing me. Anyway, I guess we'll just see how it goes Sunday.

Oh yeah, I have my miles logged since I started my training. Since 9/30/06 I have logged 244.35 miles. Not too shabby.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Merry New Year!!!!

Holidays are fun. But it's a good thing they end quickly. If not I would be 400lbs and constantly drunk.

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I feel a little better this week about my training. My long run on the Saturday before Christmas was good. It was scheduled 10 miles but we made it 12 at the end. We ran a different route this time through Key Biscayne and Crandon Park. It was a beautiful morning as we ran along the water and watched the sun rise. Good stuff. We felt good at the end so Leslie, Tracy and I decided to run the Rickenbacker Causeway back and forth one time to add another 2 miles. The bridge is a lot harder (and more windy) after a 10 mile run, but it was ok and we finished strong.

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I had a good run with Jeremy on Christmas morning around my parent's house in Sarasota (5.75 miles/57:00). We figured out we like running together. I think he just likes the walk breaks I make him take, but whatever. We had good conversation while running and decided maybe we should try running together once a week. Which will be good for my training, maybe not so much for his.

When we got back to Miami on Thursday, he took me for a run that he usually does with a friend of his. A 5.6 mile loop around the Coral Gables Country Club. It is a beautiful run around a great neighborhood. We ran and decided which houses we would buy or not buy when we win the lottery. That was a great run. The weather was cold and I ran a good pace 5.6 miles/53:23.

Saturday our long run was a Hash Run. It was a beautiful course through Pinecrest (more lottery homes) and we ended up at Joanne's bakery where we didn't get beer :( but were rewarded with a huge, free breakfast of fruit, juices, coffee, bagels, and other assorted breads and pastries. The run ended up being about 9.5 miles and we set a good pace, no one got lost and Mercy even showed up! It was actually pretty fun and all the new courses have helped to keep the boredom levels low.

Today, after our long (but fun) New Year's weekend, Jeremy dragged me out of bed at 5:15am to go run the golf course with him. It sounded like a good idea until I started actually running. It was horrible, the worse run I have had in awhile. It was hot, and humid (82 degrees in JANUARY?!?!). I was stiff, felt dizzy and all sorts of other crybaby stuff. If I hadn't been with Jeremy I would have quit at mile 0.5. But I finished it cause I have to be a tough guy around other people. We ran it in 5.6/55:57. Not horrible with walk breaks and I finished strong. I think I was just feeling like a baby.

Other than that, I have the big 14 miler this Saturday. The longest run before my mini-taper. Half-Marathon in 26 days!

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