Sunday, October 10, 2010

USA Space City 10-Miler PR Race Report

2010 will eventually go down as one that has been the most challenging, yet action-packed, of them all, and there's still two and a half months left.

As I may have mentioned before, there was one specific incident this spring that fueled me to commit and sign up for the Philadelphia Marathon the third weekend in November.

Its been said not to do certain things in anger, but I'm not sure if road races were ever part of that definition. However, the results have been mostly pleasant.

I asked my good friend, Bill Dwyer, to put together a range of overall miles and long run targets, which would give me a guideline to get to where I wanted to be.

I'm too fluid of a person to follow a regimented schedule, but give me some guidelines and let me figure out how to get there. While I always appreciate the support and encouragement from many, it'll mean even more to me in the end if I can be successful with my own approach. We all get to the same, yet different places in our lives so many different ways. Who's to say that one person's is better than the others?

November 21 will be here in six short weeks and there's lot to do in the interim. I'm already looking forward to flying to Philadelphia with Waverly the day before, running the marathon on Sunday, and then going to visit my grandparents for a couple of days before going to New York City for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

With a recent College Night this past week at Waverly's high school, I know that the volume of these days will soon dwindle. Bittersweet, but eager to achieve them still.

Achieve. An interesting word.

Is hitting a specific time or completing a specific event all that makes us who we are? I'm afraid for some it is. I spoke with a coach this summer at a race and he said that he has clients that they've thrown so much into achieving one thing that they look in the mirror afterwards, having abandoned all else to get there and go, "Wow. What's next?"

I don't want that ever to be me. And I've got a tons of friends and supporters who will ever keep that from happening.

I had no clue how today was going to go. Monday, the discovery of what I already knew - that my hips were out of alignment - also revealed a very tight right piriformis muscle. I hit the bike for an hour and a half ride on Monday, followed by another hour and a half on the eliptical machine on Tuesday before adding a 14-mile ride on Thursday and 7.5 miles on the treadmill Friday.

Saturday would bring covering the fifth annual Memorial Hermann Ten For Texas, which included more than I can adequately explain (and that you have time to read), and then co-hosting an online forum, produced by Woodlands MultiSport, to follow John Laskowski and Amy Barr while they competed at the Ford Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.

Bill wrote me on Friday with the following note: "Might depend on how tired you are from watching Kona. 1:36:45."

I had been up at 4:30 a.m. on Saturday, took a short nap at 12:15 a.m. on Sunday morning trying to catch Amy's finish after John had, and might have ended up getting three hours of sleep overall at best.

I had posted on my Facebook status a goal time of 1:38 or better, but really didn't know for sure with the slight physical setback.

I got to Clear Lake a little bit before 6 a.m. on Sunday, was clearly tired and my leg was not in very good shape from sitting most of Saturday afternoon and evening. I tried to stretch it as much as I could while visiting with Joe Carey and Adrienne Langelier for much of the pre-race time.

Actually, I felt surprisingly good and warmed up about 10 minutes before the start of the race.

A couple of minutes before the start of the race, I thought about the job that my friend, John Laskowski, did at Kona just a few short hours before. Absolutely incredible. It was an inspiring performance. I just wanted to run as well as what John had been running - both in his last race and an amazing 4:18 marathon at Kona.

And I had hoped that there was a little bit of magic left in the "magic hat" - an Ironman Texas visor.

After a short prayer and the National Anthem, I quickly realized that I should have more farther up in the queue: I'm running faster now.

Mile one came and went in 8:53.61, but I spent a lot of energy passing and dodging people. A mistake that I know better from having participated in as many races as I do.

The temperatures were still cool, but not as chilly as they were the day before for Ten For Texas. The second mile was 9:13.76 and I started to realize that this might be a long day.

As we made the right-hand turn on to Red Bluff and before I made it to mile three, Paige Krekeler, who was part of HARRA's AED/CPR team today, commented that I was "flying" and asked if I wanted my picture taken while I was running. I told her, "Maybe a size down from now".

Mile three came in at 9:20.14. I wasn't redlining yet, but I was really worried about being able to slow things down and run controlled, like the 16-miler the Sunday before and like John had run at Avia on Labor Day.

I know. Do the math. With a nine-minute mile for one-tenth (:54), I had just run a 28:21 5K. Not real smart.

My biggest concern was keeping it from falling apart. I saw John Isgren with at the next right hand turn off of Red Bluff. Nice encouragement from John and shortly after that I started to set my sights on a legend in the Houston running community, Jack Lippincott.

Jack is 64 and has been slowing down of late, and, of course, I should get myself into even better shape so that it isn't an issue. In his prime, Jack ran the early Houston Marathons in the 2:30's and 2:40's. I caught Jack before the mile 4 water stop, which was ably manned by the Bay Area Running Club. 9:29.72 is what the watch would say for the fourth mile.

Have I said yet how I thought it was going to have been the longest 10 miles that I was going to run? Well, there, I said it.

In mile five, there was a police officer on his motorcycle that went by me in the left-hand lane of traffic and he had country music playing. God Bless. I said something to him and finally it clicked to him. He circled around and came up aside me again and I got to hear the strains of Merle Haggard's "Okie To Muskogee".

It also made me think of a February 2007 event that Kim Hager, Bill Dwyer and myself put on at Luke's Locker called "Spin For ALS" and Kim joked that you couldn't spin to country. Yeah right. You like Eminem. I like George Strait.

9:38.88 is what mile 5 came in, but I was concerned. I had to stop and take a quick blow just past the timing mat. It would later reveal that I ran the first five in 46:36.11 - a definite 5-mile PR.

But I wondered if the bleeding had begun.

I grabbed fluids from the Clear Lake Fitness Club water stop just before mile 6 and turning on to NASA Road 1 and the tired feeling from Saturday hit me. I was exhausted and I really began to think that hitting 1:38 might have even been in question.

Mile 6 was 9:57.82 for a cumulative time of 56:33.93. One good thing is that I hadn't started to do the math for a projected finishing time.

I went through the 10K marker at 58:34.45 and 2:00.52 from the mile marker. That concerned me because that means that I was now running at a 10-minute per mile pace.

I thought to myself that there were others that I knew that had just as long of a day as I had the day before and their world was currently quite a bit more challenging than mine.

I didn't necessarily find another speed gear, but I made the next right-hand turn off of NASA Road 1 and capped off mile 7 in 9:49.50.

Miles eight and nine were the same -- 9:46.96 and 9:48.20.

I had three songs going through my head - one George Strait song and two of the recent cuts off of the new Zac Brown Band CD - as well as thinking about running controlled and tall like John has been doing so well.

The 15K marker came 3:11.76 into the mile and I really started to fear a collapse. So I started to pick it up as much as I could.

The weekend before during the 16-miler, I saw a woman cross the street in front of me a ways away and I tried to catch her. I didn't, but I put down a strong finish into Terramont Park.

But the push caused me to stop twice to get a quick blow. The second of which saw me to the right of a foursome from the Tornados Running Club, including Leno Rios and Francisco "Paco" Garza. Leno left me no option: "Find a way to the finish line."

When you have the respect of some of the Tornados, you run.

Penn Stater and HMSAer Ed Fry was to the right offering encouragement. Terlinguan Ben Harvie to the left. I could see Adrienne ahead. I heard her say something, as I made the right-hand turn to the finish, about not being able to pace me in for this one.

Approaching the finish line, I was so surprised to see a 1:35 on the clock, but it went to 1:36:07 before I crossed.

However, I was incredibly satisfied with the result.

I knew the offset time at the start was 37 seconds; therefore, I had just posted a 1:35:30 time -- for a 6-minute, 5-year PR.

I headed north as quick as I could after a little socializing, made it home and to church in time to hear Waverly sing during this morning's Communion service. And then we followed it up with breakfast at our favorite place -- The Egg & I in Shenandoah.

A great day.

Chip offset -- 37.61
Mile 1 -- 8:53.61
Mile 2 -- 9:13.76 (18:07.37)
Mile 3 -- 9:20.14 (27:27.51)
Mile 4 -- 9:29.72 (36:57.23)
Mile 5 -- 9:38.88 (46:36.11)
Mile 6 -- 9:57.82 (56:33.93)
10K -- 2:00.52 (58:34.45)
Mile 7 -- 7:48.98 (66:23.43)
Mile 8 -- 9:46.94 (76:10.37)
Mile 9 -- 9:48.20 (85:58.57)
15K -- 3:11.76 (89:10.33)
Mile 10 -- 6:20.02 (95:30.35)