Thursday, December 27, 2012

Experiences Galore: A Look Back at 2012

There have been years in the past that I have been busier, but 2012 was still a pretty fun year - especially after working through some personal challenges that I allowed to keep me from performing by best for (and eventually costing me) two race directing assignments.

You won't read about a plethora of PR's here.  That simply isn't my main focus, and which some people don't get that it isn't.

A ton of different experiences?  You bet.  Absolutely.  Let's take a look:

Races completed:  37 - 6 halves (or better), 4 10K's, 14 5K's, 5-, 7- and 10-miler.  Duathlon.  (Technically, the 7-miler is really a DNF at a 14-miler, but it was the middle of a three-race, 14-hour effort.)
Marathons completed:  9 - Houston, Philadelphia and Bryan-College Station were not new states.
New states:  6 - Mississippi, Kansas, Alaska, Nevada, Montana, Maine.

This leaves me with a marathon in 30 states and a half marathon (or better) in 37 states.

DNF's:  2 - Rocky Raccoon 100 and Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon in Louisville.
Races announced:  17
Races as official media:  6 - U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon, The Woodlands Marathon, Ironman 70.3 Texas, Ironman Texas, Ten For Texas and Run Thru The Woods.
Race directed:  1 (BMI 5K)
Race support:  1 (Run For Hans 5K)
Races spectated:  5 (First Light Marathon, TriGirl Super Sprint Triathlon, City of Conroe Turkey Trot and a couple of others)

Waverly sang the National Anthem at:  13.

I'm very fortunate that I get to work with some of the best race directors in the business.  They include (in no particular order):

Robby Sabban (Seabrook Lucky Trail Marathon and Half Marathon, Baytown Bud Heat Wave, Toughest 10K Kemah, Toughest 10K Galveston and La Porte By The Bay Half Marathon)

Willie Fowlkes (The Woodlands Marathon and Texas 10 Conroe)

Juris Green (Nike South and Nike Cross South Regional)

Steve and Paula Boone (Texas Marathon and End of the World/Day After the End of the World Marathon)

Rich and Amie James (Gusher Marathon, Pleasure Island Bridge Half Marathon)

Bill Gardner, Run in Texas (Galveston Sand Crab 5K/10K)

Kelly Dietrich and Angel Nicks (Muddy Trails 5K/10K and CB&I Sprint Triathlon*)

Kevin and Jana Landry (Galveston Marathon and Half Marathon**)

Roxanne Davis (Kiwanis Kids Triathlon, Conroe YMCA Trail Run 5K and Run Thru The Woods)

* Withdrew from announcing CB&I Sprint Triathlon because of some personal ethical conflicts.
** Will return to announce the 2013 event after missing 2012 because it fell on the same weekend as Rocky Raccoon.

If you asked me to rate my top 10 memories of 2012, I'd be hard-pressed to limit it to just that many.

The following, however, and in no particular order, seemed to stick out:

1.)  Covering the last three miles of the Chevron Houston Marathon with Waverly.  Always a highlight.  2013 will mark the eighth straight year that we'll do so.

2.)  Having Bill Dwyer and Waverly supporting me during my Rocky Raccoon 100 attempt and Jim Braden driving up from The Woodlands to cheer me on during my second loop.  Jim's a class act and a multisports legend.

3.)  Having Joan Benoit Samuelson's daughter, a representative for Nike, tell me at the Nike Cross Regionals that, "By the way, you're doing awesome!"  That is, speaking of my race announcing.  Receiving kind words from Coach Dan Green during Nike South was especially an honor, though, too.

4.)  Providing logistical support for the Run For Hans 5K and Beth Whitehead in her effort to honor Hans Weberling, who passed away earlier in 2012 from nueroblastoma.

5.)  Three races in 14 hours in Louisiana the last weekend in November.

6.)  Running the Panhandle Half Marathon in Lubbock with my good friend, Leanne Rosser.

7.)  Running Outrigger's 5K in Seabrook and the Extraterrestial Full Moon Midnight Marathon in Rachel, Nevada within 24 hours.

8.)  Three races in two weekends in Alaska, including a pretty decent marathon.

9.)  Watching Waverly sing the National Anthem in front of large crowds of 5,000 or more at The Woodlands Marathon and Run Thru The Woods.

10.)  A solid 4:48 marathon in Portland, Maine at the end of September.

11.)  Seeing Kimberly Mac Namee's return to road racing with wins in Texas City (overall), Lake Houston (overall), Toughest 10K Kemah (overall), Ten For Texas (masters), Houston Half (masters) and Run Thru The Woods (masters).

12.)  Waverly's finish line pictures at The Woodlands Marathon - as credentialed media - being used on

13.)  The U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon experience.

14.)  Working any Running Alliance Sport event with a great volunteer team and being able to be a part of donating $85,000 to charity in 2012.

15.)  Getting to meet Camille Herron and Jeffrey Eggleston at The Woodlands Marathon and reconnecting with Michael Wardian after seeing him at Western States, Boston and even a 5K in Washington, D.C.

16.)  The road trip with Bill Dwyer to Mississippi and Alabama for me to run the Mississippi Blues Marathon and watch Adrienne Langelier and Rebecca Massie compete on a relay together the following day at the First Light Marathon in Mobile.

17.)  Flawless race announcing performance at Texas 10 Conroe, perhaps my best of the year even with handling Nike Cross Regionals and interviewing Leo Manzano.

18.)  And, yes, even an hour and a half in the medical tent at the Bryan-College Station Marathon, but more importantly, my best friends waiting to make sure that I was OK.

Additionally, a few friends - Tony AllisonGeri Henry and Susan Rouse - completed their 50 state journeys this year all of The Woodlands.

And its been good to see Bill get his Volte Endurance Training group off the ground and start to be successful.

Plus there were some things that I was fortunate enough to be able to do and be involved in that either nobody knows about or very few do, and I prefer that it stays that way.

If I slighted anyone, my apologies.  It wasn't intended.  I could probably come up with something positive from every event that I was involved with or attended, but that would take a few extra hours.

Lots of fun in 2012 and lots in store for 2013.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Philadelphia Marathon Race Report

I told my friend, Leanne Rosser, that Philadelphia "isn't a PR course". 

Having done it twice before, I felt like the course had some of what I call "texture" - or "terrain" - to it and that it wasn't the easiest in the world.

Nonetheless, Leanne PR'd on Sunday by 17 minutes with a dazzling 4:34 in her fifth career marathon.

And I put enough together to post my sixth-best marathon finish out of the 46 that I've completed with a 5:02:21 effort.

Before I decided to do this marathon for the third time in three years, I had accepted the opportunity to announce for the Nike Cross South Regional at Bear Branch Sports Park in The Woodlands, which was the day before.

There was a 1:30 p.m. flight, but that would have been cutting it way close or - as it turned out with the awards ceremony, which included an interview with 2012 U.S. Olympic silver medalist Leo Manzano - next to impossible. 

So a 7:30 p.m. flight, which would land at close to midnight Eastern time, is what it would be.

Fortunately, Waverly and I both got upgraded to first class.  And after being on my feet for six and a half hours Saturday morning, I ended up sleeping soundly on the United flight to the City of Brotherly Love.

We were in our room at about 12:45 a.m. and I think I ended up getting about three hours of additional sleep.  We were out of the hotel room by 5:15 a.m. and on our way toward the Philadelphia Mueseum of Art, where the corrals would back up to.

After a little nervous time of securing parking, getting my packet from my good friend, Rob Jones, and waiting in the car (in the heat) and with Waverly, Leanne and her husband, Jim, we were in the corrals a little after 7 a.m.

Philadelphia is just atrocious on their corral management. 

Last year, in the last or next-to-last, I think it took 22 minutes to cross the start line.  This year, it turned out to be 36 minutes.  Crazy! 

However, in all reality, there are places during the first six and a half miles that would be major bottlenecks if everyone was sent at once -- or in just two waves like the Chevron Houston Marathon does.

And, then, we also realized that those who didn't get to run the ING New York City Marathon earlier in the month had their own specially-created corral.  Guess that it was worth it for the $200 they paid - on top of the $255 or greater that was lost on NYC.

Leanne and I sliced and diced our way through the first mile while she was trying to "hold back".  Yeah right.  She was ahead of me and I passed the marker in just under 10 minutes.

Mile 1 -- 9:59:28

I had a little bit of an inkling that it wasn't going to be another 4:48 Maine Marathon day; however, I also knew that at mile 6 or so, when I saw Waverly, that I was going to have to shed my outer layer.

Mile 2 -- 11:15.85 (21:15)
Mile 3 -- 9:07.63 (30:22)
Mile 4 -- 10:24.81 (40:47)
Mile 5 -- 10:21.79 (51:09)
Mile 6 -- 10:50.96 (1:02:00)

I saw Jim (Leanne's husband), Lysa (Rob's wife) and Waverly at probably the 10K point.  Lysa proceeded to tell me that I was on a 4:29 pace.  I told her, "Not today."  I wasn't being negative.  I appreciated the feedback, for sure, but I've run enough of these to know when it isn't going to be my day.

Mile 7/8 -- 21:47.21 (1:23:47)
Mile 9 -- 10:52.17 (1:34:39)
Mile 10 -- 11:39.43 (1:46:19)

The three previous miles included some hills, but I didn't feel as if it was as difficult as it had been in year's past.  I suppose, though, that mile 10 told a little bit of a different story.

Mile 11 -- 10:36.44 (1:56:55)
Mile 12 -- 10:40.75 (2:07:36)

Even though the mile splits were the same as earlier in the race, the miles, as I came up upon the Philadelphia Museum of Art, started to get harder.

Mile 13 -- 10:54.13 (2:18:30)

I saw Waverly at the mile 13 marker, gave her a kiss, as usual, and told her that it was going to be close to five (5) hours.

Mile 14 -- 11:00.75 (2:29:31)
Mile 15 -- 11:30.53 (2:41:01)
Mile 16 -- 11:10.38 (2:52:12)

Miles 14-16 run along the Schuykill River and are flat, but there was a gradual slowdown.  This was similar to the race two years before, where I finished in 4:51.  I also needed to go to the restroom, but I couldn’t find a port-a-pottie that was open and not allow me to lose major time.

Mile 17 -- 12:27.62 (3:04:39)

There was an aid station just before we made a left-hand turn to go over a bridge that went over the River, where the 17-mile marker was at.  At the end of the mile before, I started to do what I call, "the marathon math".  So it was 2:52:12 plus 10 miles times 16 minutes equals approximately 5:34 - with two (2) minutes for the final .2 miles.

Mile 18 -- 11:46.35 (3:16.26)
Mile 19 -- 12:12.82 (3:28:38)
Mile 20 -- 12:13.99 (3:40:52)

Mile 19 ended on the way into Manayunk and mile 20 was early as we moved through its "downtown area".  In between, I saw fellow The Woodlands Running Club member Geri Henry.  Geri and (former TWRC president) Tony Allison both were finishing their 50 states marathon journey.  As soon as I could tell it was her, I hollered as loud as I could, "Ladies and gentleman, Geri Henry from The Woodlands, Texas is finishing her 50 states in marathons today".

I think most people got a kick out of it.  One woman asked me how many that I had.  I said, "30", but the only thing about 30 that I wanted at that time was to be finished in 30 minutes!

Mile 21 -- 12:52.50 (3:53:45)
Mile 22 -- 13:03.06 (4:06:48)
Mile 23 -- 12:43.12 (4:19:31)
Mile 24 -- 12:20.41 (4:31:51)

These four miles took a lot to keep from walking all of the distance.  I wanted to get it done as quick as I could.  One gentleman, who passed me at around mile 9 and had been following me (and my pace) there, saw me again after I passed him late in mile 21 and we chit-chatted off and on until he got far enough ahead of me going in to the last two miles.

Mile 25 -- 13:58.97 (4:45:24)
Mile 26 -- 14:17.07 (5:00:08)
Last .2 -- 2:13.05 (5:02:21)

Just like 2010, I realized that I wasn't going to break five (5) hours like I didn't get my PR that day; however, I still was pleased with a 5:02 given the seven-week layoff from my prior marathon. 

My plan has been to run a marathon every three to four weeks as part of my Rocky Raccoon preparation for February.  However, when it wasn’t wise to try to fly out of Boston as Hurricane Sandy – or “Superstorm” Sandy, rather – was going to beginning thrashing the northeast Coast and wreaking havoc on the airlines, I thought that missing the Cape Cod Marathon might set me back worse than it did.

I could have pushed through and gotten under five hours, but none of this means that much to me.  It is all something that I do to 1.) keep my weight in check as much as I can and 2.) have fun.

I may add Bryan-College Station to the dance card and one of Steve Boone’s marathon on the December 21-22 weekend, but we’ll see how things go, including my weekly trips to the chiropractor and upcoming Pilates sessions to help strengthen my core before the first weekend of February.

After the race, I went back to the hotel to sleep a little and get cleaned up before Waverly and I had dinner with Leanne, her husband, Jim, one of her sons and her best friend from Virginia.  We had a really good time before we made our way Monday morning over to visit my grandparents.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Race Announcing: A Little Insight

The first weekend of this month, I announced two brand new races - Texas 10 Conroe, part of the new Texas 10 Series, on Saturday, November 3 and the Pleasure Island Bridge Half Marathon in Port Arthur the following day.

I had a lot of fun doing both.  It is something that I enjoy doing, but it is also something that I don't think people realize that takes as much work as it does.

And it is also something that I'm very, very thankful and fortunate that I get the opportunity to do.  I actually believe that my ability to exhort (speech or discourse that encourages, incites or earnestly advises) is a spiritual gift, as referenced in Romans 12.

For me, there's more that goes into it than just announcing the names of finishers as they come to (ideally) or cross the finish line.  Don't get me wrong, it is a lot of that, but there's more to it.

Because of my race directing experience, I, in essence, become a de facto start and finish line manager, but I believe that the events and race directors that I work with realize it is an added value that I provide over others.

While I very much respect the trained professionals who have great and skilled voices - as well as name recognition at a major market radio or television station, I work very hard to bring a myriad of skills necessary - along with a knowledgable voice - to properly project a race's image and its ability to "do things right" - or first-class.

I read in the recent November/December issue of Running Times an atricle by Pete Magill where he said that "back in the day" runners asked for three things:  start a race on time, an accurately measured course and correct finisher's results.  (And, today, they still do!)

In what I do, I can't take care of the latter two (although I do help timers with discrepancies or missing registration data when a runner cross), but I'm the front line on communicating with all of the appropriate parties to ensure that the event has an on-time start.

I typically aim to start announcing an hour before the event with updates every 10 minutes.  Anything more is overkill.  And when I'm a participant, I hate overkill.  To me, it is unnecessary drivel (and I'm sure that I have a few people that think what I do is drivel!)

I try to - in a very friendly and informative tone - communicate the most salient details that every participant needs to know (how far away - time-wise - we are from the start of the race, where to pick up your packet and/or chip, where to register and when to begin making their way to the start line).

There's always opportunities to thank volunteers and sponsors -- the two parties that make most, if not all, events a success.

The biggest challenge is to not have runners waiting for too long in the chute or at the starting line before the race is to begin.

I always try to aim to have - unless the race director wants something specifically different - runners to be or to begin being queued up 10 minutes before the start of the race.  I know that they're not going to be still until about 7-8 minutes away and that pre-race ceremonies - unless there's a color guard involved presenting the colors - typically don't last more than 4-5, which gives me a 2- to 3-minute buffer.

But you always have to be ready for the unexpected.

At the Toughest 10K Galveston, the second race of the Texas Bridge Series, we knew that parking was going to be tight with the incredible turnout (1,500+ pre-registered).  We communicated over and over before the race to be parked by 6:30 a.m. (a 7:30 a.m. start), but even with the team's best efforts there were still cars backed up on the Causeway at 7:05 a.m.

We - working with race director Robby Sabban - had brought in Other Brother's Peter Manry to do a lot of the pre-race announcement work that morning because of the need to throw all key resources at the parking solution.

We had the start line inflatable blown up on the side of the road because the road was still open to traffic.  But magically, just a minute or two before 7:20 a.m., all the cars were clear from the Causeway Bridge and the road just south of the runners -- and we were set to go, got the prayer and the National Anthem off and ... started on-time.

At the Texas 10 Conroe, everything lined up perfect for an on-time start, but during the National Anthem, I was notified that some things weren't secure on the course.

But because of a sound timeline, clear communications and all of the right people at the start in the right place, the delay - on the course - ended up being minimal and we got started maybe no more than three (3) minutes late.  Not too bad, and not enough to generate any complaints (I hope!).

The curve that we had in Port Arthur was that there was a line of showers that came through in the middle of the race, which meant that the advance mats and the reader had to be taken down.  I had to move my sound equipment under cover and then we had to improvise on the awards ceremony, but having an experienced team like IAAP out of San Antonio and flexible race directors like Rich and Amie James, who also put on The Gusher Marathon in Beaumont each March, made the shift in the pre-race plan rather painless.

Beyond that, for me, it is all about trying to make sure that I call people's names correctly and clearly and then communicate post-race necessities - once again, without overkill.

If I can add something, based on what I know about the individual - or even something that pops into my head, I will, but I try not to force things too much.

My philoposphy is that if nothing is said about what I do, then that's a win for the event (and I've done my job).  It fits into the description of a race being "well-organized".

I very strongly believe that an announcer can take away from an event's image by coming across as unprofessional or as I put it, "hokey"; however, I try to make sure that every event that I'm asked to do that I present a touch of quality and class that is a very, very small part of a participant coming back to do that event the next year.

The most fun thing of it all is when I know something about someone (a recent result, their birthday or something about where they're from) and it surprises them.  That, to me, is an intanigble that very few other announcers can bring to an event.

My biggest pet peeve?  Oh boy.  Yes, even I have them.  If you come up and ask me to call somebody "Pookie Bear" when they come across the finish line, that is just not going to happen. 

The other is interrupting my rhythm or train of thought in processing all of the information that I have coming at me by self-announcing your name before I get to it.  I'll then just ignore it.

I really make a very concerted effort to do my best for each and every runner that comes to a finish line and recognize their accomplishment in an encouraging and professional manner, but a few things challenge me every now and then.

And finally, if I'm doing an event that isn't using a reader mat, there's one thing that you have working in your favor by knowing me:  It is probably pretty safe that you're going to get your name called!

See you at the races!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Charity Towards ING NYC Marathoners - A Sliding Scale Of Its Own

I went to on Thursday to see if there might be an event that I could get to on Sunday, November 11 and pick up another state.

The first story on the site's home page was about the Philadelphia Marathon, which I'll run next Sunday, opening up 3,000 additional slots for runners affected by Mayor Bloomberg's decision to shuttle this year's ING New York City Marathon.

Great publicity, of course, at first blush.  Everybody seems to be getting in on the act, including those events that issued a $25 discount within 60 seconds after the announcement.

Philadelphia, after seeing its 350 remaining charity slots gobbled up rather quickly, decided to make a tenfold addition - and oddly enough at the mayor's direction.

The City of Brotherly Love's charity requirement isn't as high as other events, but the $200 entry fee - of which $100 will be donated to New York City and New Jersey-area charities - seemed rather high for individuals who had just spent $250 or more to run New York City.

So I did a quick pass of those events slated for this weekend, Saturday, November 10 and Sunday, November 11 to see how they compared to Philadelphia.

The Soldier Marathon in Columbus/Fort Benning, Georgia (11/10) welcomed New York City Marathoners for free.

Sunday's Marshall University Marathon in Huntington, West Virginia gave runners a $40 online entry fee through Thursday, November 8.

Santa Barbara International Marathon, run on Saturday, offered a $50 registration for the first 300.

Pensacola Marathon's fee was already only at $75, but advised runners that they would mail a different race shirt and their medal to them at a later time.

Similarly, the Anthem Richmond Marathon indicated that they would mail medals for the additional registrations expected to come from New York City runners.

The Fort Worth Marathon on Sunday offered a special discount code for an $80 entry fee.

The Malibu International Marathon were letting runners in at their early bird rate.  $109.  So what's the current rate?  $145, including the $10 tax per runner for the city of Malibu.

And finally, the Competitor Group's Rock 'N' Roll San Antonio Marathon was giving NYC runners a 20 percent discount -- from its current $150 rate, but they were matching the $30 discount with a donation of their own to charity.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Houston Half Marathon Race Report

I was set to run the Cape Cod Marathon today, but the unpredictably of return travel to Houston Monday morning, as planned, hastened a decision to bypass it.  State no. 31 for marathon finishes will come another day.

Instead I drove to Luke's Locker on West Gray, just west of downtown, and registered for today's Houston Half Marathon.  Keith Willhelm, who was once again working late registration, told me that I had arrived just in time as they were down to about 50 entries.

It would be the third straight year that I have run the Houston Half. 

That's equal to the number of years that they've had the current course that runs up and down Allen Parkway to Shepherd and up and down Memorial Drive to Loop 610.

The Houston Striders, who have managed the race for many years, did a pretty solid job.

The volunteers that can make or break any event - those who work the aid stations - did an excellent job and it appeared that all had plenty of fluids.

I personally don't care much about post-race beer (I don't drink) and food, the medal and such, but my pet peeves revolve around image.

Two things caught my attention -- generic bibs and starting line sound.

I don't know either situation specifically with this race, although I have a strong suspicion on the first.

I'm a big fan of custom bibs.  I strongly dislike when I do a race that has partnered with a running specialty store and they use their generic bibs.  I'd almost step up and sponsor a smaller race's bibs just to avoid that!  (And the smaller races - under 1,000 - that I've been involved with I have.)

However, the timer, Jack McClintic's Run Houston Timing, was using the disposable IPICO device instead of the wafer card on the shoe.  Because I'm involved in races with a timer who uses the same system, they only have a certain inventory of chips.  I don't know if Jack's inventory is less than 3,500.  (I can ask.)

But the disposable IPICO chip takes a larger bib to apply it to the back of.

I just don't know when the timing of the bib order, etc.

A generic bib, of course, isn't a showstopper for me, but I'd like to see better.

Not enough starting line sound?  That can be avoided.  Trust me.  I know.

I have a JBL EON single speaker unit that cost a little under $1,000.  In the past, for the Toughest 10K Kemah, it has been OK to use to start the race - and finish line announce.  This year, though, was probably questionable based on having Waverly go to where the back of runners would be - and the sound was muffled.

When we started to plan for the Toughest 10K Galveston, I told Robby Sabban that mine wouldn't be enough and we engaged Peter Manry with "Other Brother" and his setup.  (We also did this because Peter is very good at what he does and I needed to be free to troubleshoot issues - and both paid off.)

But when you have 3,500 registrants (probably 3,100 made it to the starting line) - and when I clear the start line in a minute and a half - and you can't hear the person singing the National Anthem very well, it is a problem.

Do the math.  3,500 entries times average price of $60.  That's $210,000.  Somewhere in a six-figure budget, you can hire enough sound for that.

No big deal on the lack of a finish line announcer.  With 3,500 runners, if you don't have an advance mat, it is a crapshoot.  I can speak from experience.

So, now to the racing.

I ran a 30:16 5K Saturday morning and then added another hour on the treadmill - 6 miles - early that afternoon.  (I am getting ready for a 100-miler ... lol)

Therefore, I didn't know how things would turn out, but I knew that the cold weather should work in my favor compared to the past two humidity-stifling Houston Half Marathons.

My biggest challenge lately is that I've worked, especially while on the treadmill, on increasing my foot turnover and trying to run steady.  However, I'll inadvertently speed up, get ahead where I am aerobically and be forced to walk.  And repeat, over and over.

Mile 1 - 9:34.77

Large crowd and the wide street kept it kind of easy.  Joked with a Katy Fit coach who had Canadian Deb on the back of her shirt that they didn't sing "Oh Canada" for her.

Mile 2 - 9:43.39

We made the turn and headed back north and before we made it to the mile marker, I saw Jim Braden from The Woodlands.  Jim and I both passed Boris Balic, a long-time Chevron Houston Marathon veteran; however, Boris has a long-standing tradition of banditing races.  He didn't show up in the official results today.

Mile 3 - 10:09.35

A guy passed me who recognized my Maine Marathon shirt and acknowledged that he was there at the end of last month as well.  Pretty neat.

Mile 4 - 10:19.34

During one of these two miles, I passed a gentleman who had a Toughest 10K Kemah hat on.  I thanked him for running the race.  We talked a little bit about the event, its logistics, et. al., and I let him go.  This mile also included both underpasses at Montrose and Waugh.

Mile 5 - 10:10.31

Held in pretty solid to the mile marker, which put me on to Memorial Drive after crossing Shepherd.

Mile 6 - 10:40.43
Mile 7 - 9:56.98

Unless the marker was slightly off, I struggled in mile 6.  Not sure if I was already starting to run out of gas, but I picked the pace back up in the next mile as I started to see the leaders - and other folks that I know.

Cassie Mondragon noticed this trend during the 2010 Houston Half.  She said that whenever I saw somebody I knew, I ran faster.

I was looking for my friend, Kimberly Mac Namee.  The women's leader, who had a Zapata Running singlet on, was far ahead, but a little while later Virigina Jones passed with Kim and Laura Bennett within a step or two of each other.

I shouted loudly, "Go Kim Hager".  When you're excited and going into oxygen debt, you revert back to what you know the most!  It must have gotten Laura fired up, as Kim told me after the race that Laura passed her and that Kim couldn't overtake her until mile 13.

Mile 8 - 10:15.56

In miles 7 and 8, I saw Lisa Yarrow, Lance Collins, Jacob Tonge, Ed Fry, Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Lisa Fletcher and Vincent Attanucci.  At the turnaround just before Loop 610, I saw Kimberly McClintic overseeing the timing equipment - interestingly placed around the turn almost to where you couldn't see it at all - and she said, "It is a great day for a run."  I responded, "I hope so for a little longer. We'll see."  A guy to the right of me chuckled.

Mile 9 - 10:46.50

This mile is a fairly flat stretch, but it was my slowest mile.

Mile 10 - 10:23.70
Mile 11 - 10:34.18
Mile 12 - 10:37.66

The next three miles were pretty lackluster.  The only person that I noticed was Cypress' Thomas Des Lauriers, who runs the Seabrook Lucky Trails half marathons on both days every year.

Mile 13 - 9:07.27
Last .1 - 2:21.93

The last tenth of a mile marker was off, but I averaged 10:03 in the last 1.1 to finish off in 2:14:42 - my 9th best of 86 career half marathons.  Run Houston Timing had me at 2:14:39.

I said in my Facebook status that I ran like crap, but I still ended up with a good time.

I would have been trying to run about a 10:45 for as long as I could have had I been running the Cape Cod Marathon, but I guess that I can deal with a 10:17 per mile effort.  And it was only five minutes off of my PR.

Next up?  Right now, my third attempt at the Philadelphia Marathon in three weeks.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Late Year Checkpoint

Things always seem like a busy time for me, but that's because I tend to choose to stay busy.

I'm very thankful of the things that I'm given the opportunity to do. And a lot of times, I do a lot of juggling to try and make them all happen.

I had the quality vs. quantity argument thrown at me many, many years ago.

My response six years later is this: In the end, nobody is going to remember what race I did or what my time was, they will just remember what kind of person I was.

I'm not perfect. I've hurt some people - not maliciously, although I'm sure they probably think otherwise - yet I've been hurt too. Maybe causing some of the former.

I've been mocked before, "You'll hurt Jon's feelings." Sure, I'm a sensitive guy, but I credit my daughter for that - and my mother for the rest.

It doesn't mean that I haven't experienced failure or disappointment. I've had my fair share.

Probably more than some and not as much as others, but as I'm writing this I'm in as good of a spot as I've been in a few years.

So what's gone by the wayside?

My work has pretty much eliminated most of my writing. I just don't have time to invest to write with the informative style that I enjoy. It takes time to research and track down the information that I need.

I've been very fortunate to do a very good job at what I do for a living over the last 18 months. It is what allows for me to be able to fund Waverly's education.

Therefore, the (Conroe) Courier column that I wrote for almost five years, my columns with Texas Runner and Triathlete, editing HARRA's Footprints and even some of my blog entries have all paid the price.

If I was concerned about my popularity, maybe I'd be more disappointed about not doing much of that anymore. Have you heard of the term, "Under the radar?" I think I've trademarked it.

Nevertheless, I still get to do some of those things here and there.

I have probably moved more into event management and some of its various roles.

Gone also is most of my race directing days. Some personal challenges took two of the three races out of play for me over the last two years while it may have also affected a third. That's yet to be seen.

However, those abilities are leveraged for quite a few number of events:

+ Running Alliance Sport and its founder, Robby Sabban. It is probably fair to say that I've earned Robby's trust enough to handle RAS' communications and social media endeavors - short of the web site (which is admirably handled by Susan Bell and BJ Pearce). In addition, I'm part of a group that works from a strategy standpoint. 2012 has been a great year and discussions have begun for 2013.

+ The Woodlands Marathon. I handle media relations for this event. I appreciate the trust that Willie Fowlkes, Rick Frank, Don Wisenbaker and Danny Golden have placed in me.

+ The Gusher Marathon and the Pleasure Island Bridge Half Marathon and their founders and race directors, Richard and Amie James. They're doing great work in the Golden Triangle area and I've started to assist them by doing their race announcing for them. Great, compassionate and humble individuals that are doing really good things in their communities to inspire others to strive and make healthy lifestyle changes.

+ The Galveston Marathon. Jana and Kevin Landry are the race directors and are co-owners with Jay Lee of On The Run in Clear Lake. I finish line announced the inaugural event in 2011, but wasn't able to because of Rocky Raccoon this February. However, it is a week before Rocky this year and I'm looking forward to doing it again. Jana has intimated me doing the Space City 10-Miler if I'd like to, but I usually like to run it. Even with hating the typical humidity off the coast.

+ Roxanne Davis. In a few weeks, I'll get to once again race announce Thanksgiving Day's GE Run Thru The Woods. She actively embraced Bill Dwyer and my efforts to promote that weekend's races that she coined our Friends of the Running Community named so that we didn't have to put our names out there.

+ Texas 10 Series. After earning Willie's trust a few years ago, he let me finish line announce CB&I in 2010 and then I did it again in 2011 after he left Parks and Rec with The Woodlands Township. The first race is this coming weekend in Conroe and I'm hoping to bring my best "A game" to do a few more of the races that he, Rick Frank, Angie Henderson and Aaron Palaian are putting together.

+ Muddy Trails 5K. I've done this the last two years for The Woodlands Township, but we'll see if 2013 will happen after I stepped away from CB&I this year after a personal issue in the community. Kelly Deitrich and Angel Nicks really treat me well and I appreciate their enthusiasm and enjoy working with them.

+ Nike South and Nike Cross Regionals. Thanks to Jo Ann Blakeley, I get to move into high school cross country meets. I'm very thankful to have done an excellent job - with some great help from Raul and Meghan Najera with Run-Far -- at October's Nike South and am looking forward to a bigger stage even with the Nike Cross Regionals in three weeks (Saturday, November 17).

+ Texas Marathon. Steve and Paula Boone are great friends of Waverly and I. They've been so generous with their friendship that spending much of January 1 with them as much like Christmas with family.

And all of this doesn't even include the work that I'm geting back involved with regarding Texas private and parochial high school athletics again.

And along the way, I meet so many great and positive people.

There's only one thing - in my control - that would stop me from doing much or all of it and that's pretty easy to figure out.

And God knows that I've failed in that arena too.

I'm just trying my best to please God, be a good Dad, be a good friend to those who are able to reciprocate their friendship and be happy. It is of great comfort to know that your daughter - in her faith - is where I believe God wants and needs her to be.

I apologize for waxing poetic a little bit here, but I'm an indvidual that tends to need to get it out of my system - and this is the best way to do so.

Thanks for reading!

Lemm's Harvest Trail 5K's a Gem in Spring

Sometimes even the most jaded runner or triathlete - and I know a few - need to do an event like this morning's second annual Lemm's Harvest Trail 5K - supporting Klein ISD's Lemm Elementary School - in Spring.

It was what grass roots running and a small town Americana feel was all about.

I was a little surprised to see Sam Houston State University professor John Slate there, but he told me that a recent injury was keeping him from running the hills that predominate this morning's Huntsville Half Marathon (and companion events).

Even though he did Sunday's Harbor Half Marathon in Corpus Christi.

I then met H-E-B's Sean Robertson, who has done a number of Robby Sabban's races and mentioned the Texas Bridge Series before I told him that I was invovled with the events. 

Hmmm ... marketing works!

The start and finish line is just south of Lemm Elementary and near the Forest Oaks Swim & Racquet Club - also the home of Harris County Water Control & Improvement District 110.

But there are private trails and a park just south of the Enchanted Oaks and Lakes of Cypress Forest subdivisions that are really an oasis tucked away from the bustling Interstate 45.

The small town Americana feel?  The local boy scout troop presented the colors and it was pleasantly evident that these young boys were getting their earliest forms of patriotic indoctrination.

However, they'll likely be our next policemen, fire fighters, soldiers and hopefully government and community leaders.

The National Anthem was played and we were off on the two-loop, mixed-surface (asphalt and crushed granite) trail. 

There was a little terrain to half of the course on each loop and the cool air stung the lungs a little bit for the first time this fall season, but all in all it made me glad that I was going to try and squeeze it in before tomorrow's scheduled Cape Cod Marathon.

My time was a pedestrian 30:16 - evidence of work- and health-abbreviated training the last two to three weeks post-Maine Marathon, but I'm glad that I went.

Keep an eye out for this event in 2013. 

There were about 100 or so signed up - I was bib number 111 and didn't get a T-shirt (believe me, I have more than a small village), but it would easily withstand about 300-400 runners.

These types of races are the kind that are worth giving up a couple or three or four Starbucks and supporting a local community cause that makes healthy lifestyle choices appealing to young people.

Have a great Saturday!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Busy Times Ahead

Lots of busy times ahead, but many that will also likely promise good times too.

Saturday, I’ll take part in a small 5K close to the house.  It is the Lemm’s Harvest Trail 5K, which is hosted by Lemm Elementary that is part of the Klein Independent School District.

The 7:30 a.m. start will allow for me to make it home, shower and head to the airport for an 11 a.m. flight to Boston.

And that will deposit me close to East Falmouth, Massachusetts, the start of Sunday’s Cape Cod Marathon.  Going for state no. 31.

The following weekend – November 3-4 – will be a double race announcing weekend as I’ll be calling a pair of inaugural races -- the Texas 10 Series race in Conroe on Saturday followed by the Pleasure Island Bridge Half Marathon and 10K in Port Arthur on Sunday.

Willie Fowlkes, Rick Frank, Angie Henderson and Aaron Palaian manage the Texas 10 Series while Rich and Amie James are the race directors of the new race in the Golden Triangle.

Waverly will sing the National Anthem at Saturday’s event in Conroe.

Saturday, November 10, I will be helping Beth Whitehead with the sixth anniversary Run For Hans 5K at Barbara Bush Elementary in The Woodlands.

I missed the original Run For Hans 5K in 2006 while working in Vancouver, British Columbia. 

It brought out over 600 runners and walkers in support of Hans Weberling, a blond-haired young boy who was fighting a rare form of cancer, neuroblastoma.

Recently and sadly, Hans passed away and his parents will be making the trip in from Seattle for the fundraiser for the Children’s Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation.

I think Sunday, November 11 is an off day!  This means I’ll be in church to enjoy Waverly singing as part of the worship team at North Park Baptist Church in Humble.

Announcing at the Nike Cross Regionals the following Saturday, November 17 at Bear Branch Sports Park in The Woodlands is a big deal.  Later that afternoon, Waverly and I will board a plane to Philadelphia for me to run the Philadelphia Marathon the next day for the third year in a row.

There will be a large contingent from the area, including Leanne Rosser and Scott Campbell, as Geri Henry and Tony Allison will be completing their 50 states there.

And, then, Thanksgiving week brings the 7th annual Montgomery County Triple with Run Thru The Woods on Thanksgiving Day followed by the City of Conroe Turkey Trot 5K on Friday and Run The Woodlands 5K on Saturday.

All for the coveted Pine Cone Award!

I’ll be race announcing Run Thru The Woods and Waverly will be singing the National Anthem.

A big deep breath is needed for Sunday, December 2 and the third annual La Porte By The Bay Half Marathon – the third and final race of the Texas Bridge Series.

Needless to say, there’ll probably be some place to run on Saturday, December 1.  It is just how those things tend to work out.

Like I said, having fun!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Maine Marathon Race Report

Sunday's Maine Marathon was a very satisfying run for me.

Lots of people I know, of course, have run a lot faster than I did on Sunday, but I about cried after crossing the finish line and having seen a gun time of 4:49:59 just before doing so.

It wasn't one of those magical races, like my PR (4:47:32) race in Austin at the Freescale Marathon in February 2006, but it was one that I worked pretty hard to achieve.

My chip time on my watch was 4:48:44, but the event credited me with a 4:48:42 finish.  They are the kind of numbers that sound really nice less than 24 hours after the race.

And while many have been tempted to try and agonize over the 71 seconds short of my PR, I choose not to.  Why?  I entered the race with no set expectations, nor time goal.

So the time was just a blessing of a well-managed race.

One of the two mantras that I had in my head all day was, "Manage the distance.  Don't let the distance manage you."  And now I remember the other, it was "Run within myself."

There were times that I felt really strong, but I knew that I would jeopardize the entire race if I expended my energy foolishly in a short-lived sense of pride.

I probably heard the first mantra from either Bill Dwyer or Kim Hager, but it really helped me to stay focused while having a good day.

On any other day, I would have stopped around mile 11 to get a hug from my friend, Angela Tortorice of Dallas, who did the early start at 6 a.m. after running the New Hampshire Marathon the day before (yes, she's crazy), but I was running with a lot of confidence at that point.

After passing through the first 13 miles in 2:18:43, I knew that I had run a lot of marathons where the time on the back half was far greater than that on the front half.  But it was about taking the race a mile at a time and trying to nail as many 11-minute miles or better as possible.  Or just keep "running within myself".  :-)

One of the things that I didn't do, though, was miss a water stop.  I've learned that even on a cool day with rain that you still need to manage the fluid intake like any other long distance race.

To that end, I succeeded.  I took in lots of Gatorade to make up for not carrying a Gu or anything.

And surprisingly I didn't cramp despite a solid hour on the stationary bike Friday afternoon in the gym that had left my calves tight.

It looked as if we might dodge the rain for a little bit, as we were set to start just off the campus of the University of Southern Maine, but as the National Anthem was performed the rains started to fall.

The first two miles (10:36 and 10:29) came easily, even though it was hard to run the tangents on a wide street filled with runners doing both the marathon and half.  In mile three, I had to find a quick bush near a highway overpass to duck behind, but still managed an even 11-minute mile.  And then followed with an even 10-minute mile for mile four.

The one thing that is nice about the generally out-and-back course that race officials had put together is that the road surface primarily is asphalt that is as smooth as could be.  No dodging potholes and such.  With the rain, the only real danger were manhole covers -- and the potential to slip on them.

Otherwise, it is basically a fairly flat course with some slight undulations in the middle.

The end of miles 10 and 17 is where you get the biggest incline in the road to overcome going out and back.  My mile 10 to mile 11 was 11:16 to 10:18 and mile 17 was 11:50 booked between a pair of 10:44 miles.

I started to run out of gas in mile 21, which was one of only three 12-minute miles.  But even then, it was just a 12:01.  And mile 25 was only 12:04.

I think one of the things that has helped me the most is doing 10 kilometers on the track on Wednesday evenings.  It helps me stay focused because 25 laps around takes a little discipline to finish, and it is discipline that helped me push through some pain on Sunday that I had from not taking any pain medication prior to the race and wearing shoes that I had been racing shorter distances in.

In the end, I was most happy about nearly an even split in the front (2:19:50) and back (2:28:52) halves.

I was also happy that I didn't let any negative self-talk take over during the race.  I seem to be getting more mentally strong as each marathon goes by.

The scenery in the far northeast part of the country is incredible, but you don't pay too much attention to it while trying to run through rain beading up on your glasses constantly.  (Yes, no hat!)

The volunteers at this marathon are truly incredible.  Plenty of water stops with both Gatorade and water.  The only negative, albeit slight, is that the order of the fluids flip-flopped occasionally from one stop to the next.  Minor detail on a well-managed race.

It wouldn't be a race report without a few stats:

+  Second fastest marathon ever - just 70 (or 72) seconds off the 4:47:32 from Austin in 2006.

+  Fifth time under five (5) hours from 45 marathon finishes. (January 2005, February 2006, November 2010, October 2011 and today.)

+  30 states for marathons and 37 for half marathons.

+  5th time where I ran the same event to record a half and a marathon in a particular state (Little Rock, AR; Sioux Falls, SD; Greenville, SC; Oklahoma City, OK and Portland, ME). 

And for those of you still reading, here are my splits:

Mile 1 -- 10:35.74
Mile 2 -- 10:29.29
Mile 3 -- 11:00.73 (quick stop to pee)
Mile 4 -- 10:08.17
Mile 5/6 -- 21:15.03

Mile 7 -- 10:40.63
Mile 8 -- 10:39.13
Mile 9 -- 10:28.05
Mile 10 -- 11:16.49
Mile 11 -- 10:18.40
Mile 12 -- 10:58.34

Mile 13 -- 10:53.09 (~2:18:43)
Mile 14 -- 10:54.62
Mile 15 -- 11:02.25
Mile 16 -- 10:44.66
Mile 17 -- 11:50.50
Mile 18 -- 10:44.88

Mile 19 -- 11:09.49
Mile 20 -- 10:52.06 (~3:36:01)
Mile 21 -- 12:01.19
Mile 22 -- 11:06.12
Mile 23 -- 11:34.78

Mile 24 -- 11:54.82
Mile 25 -- 12:04.54
Last 1.2 -- 14:01.00

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Lake Houston 10K (Kingwood) Race Report

I wasn't completely sure of the objective when I originally signed up for the Lake Houston 10K, but I figured that it would be another opportunity to push myself a little bit and continue to see where I stand as part of the long build-up for Rocky Raccoon 100 in February.

I had a couple of good workouts this week, but my sleep has been erratic recently.  However, I'm thankful that I have no major stress in my life.  It hasn't been that way in a long, long time.

I enjoy racing as much as I do because invariably it is time that I get to socialize with friends that I wouldn't necessarily do separate things with.

I guess since coming back from Alaska, the humidity has been pretty oppressive to me. 

And it did a number on me on this morning.  Well, that and a rookie mistake.

Two weeks ago, I went to Navasota to run the Blues Capital of Texas 5K with Leanne Rosser and the humidity brought me to a halt a number of times over 3.1 miles.

After the first 6-7 miles last Saturday, during a planned 14-mile run, the humidity left me completely soaked and spent by mile 8.  So much so that I was starting to take chills.

The rookie mistake?  Too much pre-race fuel too close to the start of the race.

Since I've run the Bridgefest 5K in Kingwood before, I knew that this was generally going to be a flat course.

I tried to keep things controlled the first mile, and I was pretty successful with a 9:27.01 mile.

I had the traditional drop-off in mile 2 with a 9:59.02 and with a 10:08.02 third mile, I was sitting at 29:34.05 for three and thought that if I could hold it that I could be close to an hour.

Obviously, the humidity had other thoughts on its mind and my legs wanting to try and run 9:15's but the rest of my body resisting.

Miles 4 and 5 went by in 10:44.14 and 10:58.05 and Curtis Hooper probably saved me from a 1:03-plus by coming out and running with me for a good bit of the 6th mile.

So the final time on my watch was 1:02:56, but the timer had 1:02:42. 

This may very well have been because I remember hitting my watch when people started to move, but am not sure that I did when I crossed the mat.  I thought I did, but possibly not.

A couple of side notes:

I had one of my best friends write me this morning, to follow-up on a post-race conversation, and they said, "You look good -- happy, healthy, and when I saw you running you looked strong and steady."

I think it was somewhere close to the mile 4 marker, but strong and steady had about left the course. 

Healthy?  Generally, I am.  My weight is in a good spot.  Clothes fit well and I'm working out regularly.  I just would like to be in a good spot to be successful in February.

Happy?  That's probably a fair statement too.

My daughter and I had a conversation today after church this morning and I shared with her that I think that people's perception of me is that I'm on top of everything and that life is grand.  But, of course, I have challenges, fears, insecurities and all just like the next person.

Do I purposedly go out of my way to mask them?  No, but if they're greater one day than another, I'll say that I'm "good" as opposed to "well".  I won't lie, but I'll do my best to pick the right word that is truthful.

I had another friend a couple of months back ask me at lunch if I was doing Rocky Raccoon for the belt buckle.  Honestly, I could care less about that and it isn't something that I'm going to wear out anywhere.

Even the one reason that I've joked about a little bit really isn't important either.

And I shared this with Waverly today, I hope to finish it for the same reasons that I was excited for her to do the half marathon that she did at the age of 10 and that was that she could set her mind to something greater than herself whenever she "wanted" to.

With "want" being the operative word.

Never to "want" to be selfish as if to say, "Look at me and look at what I've accomplished and I'm better than you because of it." But rather, I'd like to do that just to see if I can.

I'm very fortunate to be able to finish a marathon at just about anytime.  Not everyone has that specific desire nor drive.  It is a little bit quirky, but it gives me the ability to tell others that if I can, where I'm at, they can if they "want" to.

And if they don't, that's all well and good too.

The "Who was there?" report:

This, of course, is the most fun part, for me.  Because it is easy to forget a race, but hard to forget the people that I come in contact with - even if their life doesn't agree with mine.

I knew Robby Sabban and Richard and Kim Mac Namee were going to be there and I knew that Jack McClintic's timing company was going to be there.  And Jack was there to do the timing himself.

Beyond that, Ron and Karen Berglund from Kingwood; Curtis Hooper and Rick Frank (yes, they kind of go together!); Jay, Kelly and Nathan Oswald; Randy Bradley and Randy Smith from The Woodlands Running Club; George Roffe and Trudy Regnier; Benjamin and Sydney Zywicki; Bob Milligan from BARC and the Clear Lake Fitness Club, and I even talked to Cindy (Middleton), I think, who had been a personal trainer at the Bally's that I go to in Humble.

Really, really good day that was finished off at Hubbell and Hudson in The Woodlands with a visit with Michell Bradie, Mary Carter, Bill Dwyer and Debbie Tripp.

Next up?  The 8th annual Beneezy Purple Monkey 10K in Alvin next Saturday morning.

Two marathons on the dance card as well:  Bozeman (Montana) on Sunday, September 9 and the Maine Marathon (Portland) on Sunday, September 30.

Monday, August 20, 2012

HARRA Board Meeting Notes - August 20, 2012

I had my first chance in quite some time to attend a HARRA Board meeting.

For those who are not familiar with running in the greater Houston area, HARRA stands for the Houston Area Road Runners Association. It has been around in its current form since the early 1990s when it transitioned from the former Long Distance Running Committee of the predecessor to today's USA Track & Field.

Board meetings are open to all current members. Membership each year is $25 for an individual and $35 for a household and it includes an annual subscription to Texas Runner and Triathlete as well as discounts to many races around the city.

Enough of the primer, I suppose.

My original plan was to write a news article for Texas Runner and Triathlete's web site. However, some events caused me to take a more personal position on some things.

I served officially on the Board of HARRA as the VP, Communications for a little more than four years and then filled in on an interim basis after Mark Fraser suddenly passed away last year. And, as many of you are aware, I continue to serve the running community in a number of different roles.

I think what I'm trying to say is that, even though I haven't been to a Board meeting in a long time because of my business travel, I have a pretty good handle on many facets of the sport.

HARRA's current president is Joe Carey. I was fortunate to witness the genesis of his involvement in our running community many,many years ago. He watched, listened and learned the in's and out's of the sport(s) and got involved not only competing, but in giving of his time and energies.

One of Joe's mottos is to never criticize a volunteer, which I think is excellent.

That being said, though, I think if you can't fulfill what you commit to, you need to step aside and let somebody else get involved.

How to make that happen is the art of diplomacy, of course.

Tonight's meeting saw Texas Runner and Triathlete's Loren Sheffer bring an idea of establishing a Memorium page on the HARRA website for runners in the community who have passed away. He stated that he saw how one of HARRA's affiliated club, the Seven Hills Running Club, did this on their website.

The Board endorsed the idea in principle pending a prioritization of website issues and general redesign.

My take is that this is really low-hanging fruit with high value. Some general guidelines can be put together as to how many words, etc., a picture or two and the information can be received, written and posted soon after a runner in the community has passed on. The bottom line, though, is that somebody has to own it and keep up with it.

The kickoff of HARRA's Fall Series is impending with the Tornados Running Club's HARRA Cross Country Relay. However, there's just a slight snag. Work is being done on a pedestrian bridge that is near part of the course and until the contractor finishes the work and turns it back over to the City of Houston, the Tornados can't get a permit.

So the Tornados came to the Board, as part of HARRA race course requirements, to inform them that they'll likely open registration next week and work in parallel of either having the race in its usual location or at Spotts Park, as an alternate.

It was later brought up that some of the Series races' race directors had gotten lax in coming in front of the Board to ensure that all of the requirements were in the process of being met.

In a parking lot conversation, I went so far as to say to put races on notice that if they don't comply that they can no longer be a Fall or Spring Series race: simple as that. At all of the distances but two - the 25K and the 30K, there is plenty of competition in the community.

One idea that I've held for a long time is that HARRA could provide races with a certification, so to speak, that they met the same road race requirements that Fall and Spring Series events needed to meet. If a race as HARRA-certified, runners would know that races had insurance, EMT's on-site, a toilet for each 70 runners, parking within a half mile of the start line and many, many other achievable standards.

Joe's biggest mission is one that HARRA's original president, Joy Smith, advocated and that was advocacy. I think that Ron Morgan provided a good lead for Joe to follow.

HARRA is in the process of delivering to those parties that are developing Memorial Park's Master Plan things that it expects to see to meet the needs of Houston's runners that use the Park. Joe reported that he and former HARRA president Steve Shepard had met with folks with the Energy Corridor District to get an update and provide input on their West Houston Trails Master Plan.

Joe also indicated that he would be part of a team that would be meeting with Parks By You and the Houston Parks Board to listen about their plans.

Treasurer Gail Webster provided a financial update and Membership Director Bob Schamus stated that membership is currently over 1,700 for the new membership year that started on July 1. The Bayou City Road Runners, the Bay Area Running Club and the Houston Striders were the three clubs that had brought the most members to the organziation.

Party in the Park, one of HARRA's two annual outreach events, was set for Memorial Park this coming Saturday, August 25. At-large member Lisa Fletcher was in charge of putting this event on with significant help from John Phillips.

Another season of Power In Motion is close to getting started and Joe indicated that he met with a couple of folks with the Houston Marathon Foundation about some additional ways to work together on projects that would benefit the running community.

All but two of the 13 Board members were in attendance as well as former presidents Ron Morgan and John Phillips and HARRA's Equipment Manager (and the state's course certifier) Tom McBrayer.

Honestly, if people want and expect something from HARRA, they need to roll up their sleeves and get involved and help make something happen for all runners in the greater Houston community. It really doesn't take much.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Texas Multisports Facebook Follower Rankings - 8/7/12

This is an initial, but by no means exhaustive list of Texas-based races, organizations, retail stores and event production and timing companies with Facebook pages or groups and their numbers of likes, friends or members.

Any surprises?  Who are some of the big ones that we're missing on this first pass?  (The number of likes were measured this morning, August 7th.)  Let me know!

17,207 - Mellow Johnny's Bike Shop (Austin) - Retail Store
14,422 - RunTex (Austin) - Retail Store
14,313 - Rock 'n' Roll San Antonio Marathon - Road Race
12,364 - Austin Marathon & Half Marathon - Road Race
12,293 - Chevron Houston Marathon - Road Race
10,934 - Dallas White Rock Marathon - Road Race
 9,285 - Rock 'n' Roll Dallas Half Marathon - Road Race
 9,249 - Luke's Locker - Retail Store
 6,960 - Run On! Texas - Retail Store
 6,253 - The Cowtown Marathon (Fort Worth) - Road Race
 6,070 - Marathon Kids (Austin) - Organization
 4,706 - Rogue Running (Austin) - Training - Running
 4,330 - Jack and Adam's Bicycles (Austin) - Retail Store
 4,088 - Austin 10/20 - Road Race
 3,932 - Heels and Hills (Irving) - Event Production Company
 3,580 - 3M Half Marathon (Austin) - Road Race
 3,438 - Dallas Running Club - Running Club
 3,312 - Scott & White Healthcare BCS Marathon - Road Race
 3,008 - Tejas Trails - Event Production Company
 2,981 - The Texas Independence Relay - Road Race
 2,774 - The Gusher Marathon (Beaumont) - Road Race
 2,560 - CapTexTri (Austin) - Triathlon
 2,461 - Bike Barn (Houston) - Retail Store
 2,314 - The Woodlands Marathon - Road Race
 1,967 - Run In Texas (Garden Ridge) - Event Production Company
 1,954 - Redemption Race Productions (San Antonio) - Event Production Company
 1,853 - El Paso Marathon - Road Race
 1,794 - OnUrMark Productions (Houston) - Event Production Company
 1,750 - Team In Training - North Texas Chapter - Training - Multisports
 1,699 - Tyler Rose Marathon - Road Race
 1,689 - San Antonio RoadRunners - Running Club
 1,686 - Ironman Texas (The Woodlands) - Triathlon
 1,576 - New Year's Double (Allen) - Road Race
 1,532 - Big D Texas Marathon - Road Race
 1,513 - Brazos Running Company - Retail Store
 1,490 - Sea Rim Striders (Beaumont) - Running Club
 1,438 - Fort Worth Running Company - Retail Store
 1,384 - Dallas Marathon - Road Race
 1,381 - Texas Round-Up (Austin) - Road Race
 1,365 - Fort Worth Runners Club - Running Club
 1,232 - Capital to Coast Relay - Road Race
 1,212 - Austin Runners Club - Running Club
 1,153 - Mellew Production Events (Dallas) - Event Production Company
 1,152 - In Flight Running (Houston) - Training - Running
 1,135 - Seabrook Lucky Trail Marathon - Road Race
 1,120 - Fit Tri Run (Galveston) - Retail Store
 1,102 - OnUrLeft Sports Coaching (Houston) - Training - Multisports
 1,019 - Armadillo Dash (College Station) - Road Race
 1,008 - Texas Running Company - Retail Store
   973 - Texas Runner & Triathlete - Magazine
   964 - Soler's Sports (San Antonio) - Retail Store
   962 - Colonel's Bicycles (Fort Worth) - Retail Store
   953 - Ironhead Race Productions (Euless) - Event Production Company
   953 - Houston Racing Triathlon Club - Multisport Club
   922 - OutRival Racing - Training - Multisports
   905 - Corpus Christi Roadrunners - Running Club
   880 - RunFAR Racing Services, Inc. (Mansfield) - Timing Company
   868 - Houston Area Road Runners Association - Organization
   860 - Houston Fit - Training - Running
   855 - Finish Line Sports (Sugar Land) - Retail Store
   835 - IAAP Racing (San Antonio) - Event Production Company
   794 - Kyle Field Ramp Romp (College Station) - Road Race
   724 - Houston Triathlon - Triathlon
   719 - Bayou City Classic 10K - Road Race
   708 - TRI Aggieland - Triathlon
   693 - The Bill Crews Remission Run (Conroe) - Road Race
   638 - Tri Team Transport (Austin) - Retail Service
   619 - North Texas Runners - Running Club
   615 - Too Hot To Handle (Dallas) - Road Race
   600 - The Showdown Half Marathon (Fairview) - Road Race
   597 - La Porte By The Bay Half Marathon - Road Race
   592 - USA Fit Marathon (Sugar Land) - Road Race
   588 - Pleasure Island Bridge Half Marathon (Port Arthur) - Road Race
   585 - USA Fit San Antonio - Training - Running
   580 - Bridgeland Triathlon (Houston) - Triathlon
   571 - Tri On The Run Fitness Center (Houston) - Retail Service
   570 - The Austin Triathlon - Triathlon
   527 - North Texas Trail Runners - Trail Running Club
   518 - Tri On The Run (Houston) - Retail Store
   507 - Burning Pine 5K & 10K (Bastrop) - Road Race
   495 - Kemah Triathlon - Triathlon
   458 - The Rookie Triathlon (Austin) - Triathlon
   444 - Plano Pacers Running Club - Running Club
   422 - Miracle Match Marathon (Waco) - Road Race
   419 - Lonestar Multisport (The Woodlands) - Multisport Club
   417 - The Hottest Half (Dallas) - Road Race
   415 - Houston Striders - Running Club
   412 - The Woodlands Running Club - Running Club
   410 - Houston Trail Runners Extreme (HTRex) - Trail Running Club
   374 - Abilene Runner's Club - Running Club
   370 - Alamo Series (San Antonio) - Road Race Series
   370 - The Texas Bicycle Racing Association - Organization
   353 - Too Cold To Hold 5M/10M - Road Race
   347 - Bay Area Running Club - Running Club
   331 - Fiesta Marathon (McAllen) - Road Race
   329 - The Tyler Azalea 10K - Road Race
   326 - Bayou City Road Runners - Running Club
   318 - Waco Triathlon Club - Triathlon
   318 - GE Run Thru The Woods (The Woodlands) - Road Race
   312 - The Toughest 10K Galveston - Road Race
   309 - Jack's Generic Triathlon (New Braunfels) - Triathlon
   297 - TriWaco Olympic & Sprint Triathlon - Triathlon
   276 - Revolution Multisport (Fort Worth) - Training - Multisports
   272 - Run For Wellness 5K Series (Houston) - Road Race Series
   268 - Couples Triathlon (Austin) - Triathlon
   268 - Cross Timbers Trail Runs - Trail Race
   265 - College Station Running Club - Running Club
   263 - Snapping Tortuga (Willis) - Event Production Company
   263 - Trinity 5000 Summer Series (Fort Worth) - Road Race Series
   256 - Skeese Greets Women's Tri (New Braunfels) - Triathlon
   253 - Panhandle Marathon (Lubbock) - Road Race
   238 - Golden Triangle Strutters (Beaumont) - Running Club
   227 - Cox Racing Services (Fort Worth) - Event Production Company
   226 - Melon Dash 5K (McKinney) - Road Race
   215 - Lufkin Area Pacesetters (LAPS) - Running Club
   214 - CC Southside Cycling (Corpus Christi) - Cycling Club
   212 - Baytown Bud Heatwave - Road Race
   203 - Fort Worth Cycling & Fitness Center - Retail Store
   202 - Outloud! Productions (Houston) - Event Production Company
   195 - The Woodlands Cycling Club - Cycling Club
   175 - Frankenthon Monster Marathon (Cedar Park) - Road Race
   165 - No Limits Run (Fort Worth) - Road Race
   152 - El Scorcho Run (Fort Worth) - Trail Race
   151 - Finish Strong Coaching (The Woodlands) - Training - Multisports
   149 - Galveston Revival Race 5K/10K - Road Race
   148 - Texas 10 Series - Road Race Series
   147 - Riverstone Community Heart and Sole 5K (Missouri City) - Road Race
   141 - Seven Hills Running Club (Huntsville) - Running Club
   138 - Coach Trent Triathlon Coaching (Houston) - Training - Multisports
   133 - Austin Subaru Doggie Du Dash - Duathlon
   127 - Bikeland (The Woodlands) - Retail Store
   127 - Galveston Island TRI Sports - Multisport Club
   122 - Launch Multisport (The Woodlands) - Event Production Company
   116 - The Republic of Texas Triathlon (Austin) - Triathlon
   104 - Finish Strong Coaching (The Woodlands) - Training - Multisports
    94 - CrossRoads Marathon (Odessa) - Road Race
    75 - RRCA Texas - Organization
    75 - Lone Star Timing (Austin) - Timing Company
    66 - OutSwim Cancer (The Woodlands) - Swim Event
    61 - Tornados Running Club Cinco de Mayo 5K (Houston) - Road Race
    51 - BCS Triathlon Club (Bryan-College Station) - Multisport Club
    50 - Blues Capital of Texas 5K (Navasota) - Road Race
    49 - Strike Force Racing (The Woodlands) - Training - Multisports
    43 - Houston Fit Triathlon - Training - Triathlon
    25 - Waco Striders Running Club - Running Club
    23 - Carrollton Runners Club - Running Club
    23 - Dallas Pride Run 5K - Road Race

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Extraterrestrial Full Moon Midnight Marathon Race Report

Riding the bus back to Mailbox Road, I was sure glad that this race started at midnight and that we couldn't see the course until the sun came up.

If I had had to have constantly stared at the elevation that we were going to run up, I'm thinking that I might have been discouraged - even though the temperatures were perfect for a middle-of-the-night run.

I had wanted to run the Extraterrestrial Full Moon Midnight Marathon either last year or the year before, but couldn't pull the timing off with work.  Probably last year when I was working in California.

As I've mentioned before about chasing a marathon finish in every state, I take what the calendar gives me.  Many times, and this race was the same way, I won't even look at the course map, elevation profile, etc. too much.

To me, it is about the following questions:  Can I get there, can I get my packet picked up in time and can I make it home in time without it affecting my full-time career?

This race definitely fit the bill.

I landed in Las Vegas Saturday afternoon, picked my packet up at the Convention Center connected to the Hard Rock Cafe (just off the Strip) and made it to the hotel by 5:30 p.m.  The race started at midnight and it would be at least a two-hour drive.  Therefore, I needed to leave the hotel in North Las Vegas by 8:30 p.m.

Even though I really didn't eat what I wanted at about 1:30 p.m. Central time at Houston's Intercontinental Airport, I knew I needed to get something else in me -- and hope to get maybe a little sleep.  I ate, but no sleep.

Well, at least, not until I got my car parked on Mailbox Road, just 20 miles south of Rachel, Nevada. 

On the way, I stopped to get a couple of bottles of water to carry with me during the race and then made a final stop on the way in Alamo to top off with gas.  It wasn't plentiful on the route to Rachel.

The alarm was set for 11:40 p.m.  I woke up, affixed my timing chip and car key to my shoe (yes, better than the episode in Sioux Falls, South Dakota last September when I lost it) and made it to the edge of the road where pre-race instructions were going on.

I knew he was going to be there, but Dave Mari from Chicago was taking pictures.  (Yes, he ran too.)  He started the year at the Texas Marathon in Kingwood - where I do finish line announcing and help out Steve and Paula Boone -- and he said to me, "Weren't you in Springfield, Missouri last weekend?"  Indeed I was.  That's the way it is with people chasing states:  you see many folks around the country at many of the same races.

We got started right about on-time and it was just surreal to see all of these people running 26.2 miles - or some that were doing 51K -- in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere.

Mile 1 -- 9:36.00
Mile 2 -- 11:53.79
Mile 3 -- 12:04.06
Mile 4 -- 12:34.98

It was in here after I got some fluids at the water station that -- (Heed sucks, by the way, but I forced it down to get the electrolytes in me) -- I started thinking about the first TIR where Bill Dwyer and I had a team and I came up behind and passed him on leg 23.  However, it was a night leg where I had turned my lamp off to not let him know that I was coming up on him.  I thought back to that moment -- a very good, fun memory.

The aid stations were spaced about every four (4) miles.  I never really went to the water bottles until mile 17 or 18 because I didn't want to dehyrdate and cramp late in the race.

The other thing that I did around this time was to begin to process the miles - given that I had been up all day except for sleeping on the flight and racing early the previous morning - was to think of them as mile 64, mile 65, mile 66 for Rocky Raccoon 100 in February.

Mile 5 -- 12:34.86
Mile 6 -- 13:11.73
Mile 7 -- 14:19.80
Mile 8 -- 12:12.94
Mile 9 -- 14:06.81
Mile 10 -- 14:10.83

2:06 at mile 10.  It was here where I started to do the math -- 16 miles times 16 minutes per mile equals 256 minutes or 4:16.  2:06 and 4:16 makes 6:22.  And I rationalized to myself, "I can accept this.  I'm running my second marathon in eight days."
But that was at sea level and here we started at 4,523 feet and hit the high point at mile 12.8 - according to course certification map -- which was 5,617 feet.  The total course elevation gain was 1,225 feet.

Mile 11 -- 13:20.11
Mile 12 -- 14:18.45
Mile 13 -- 15:01.58
Mile 14 -- 14:35.78

Somewhere after the mile 14 mark and coming out of the aid station near there, I saw Clear Lake Fitness Club's Susan Bell.  An experienced ultrarunner, Susan is like a metronome when she runs.  She just metes the miles out nice and steady with a short, quick foot turnover.

I tried to run with her a little bit, but her turnover made it hard to stay with her for long.  I let her go. 

Sometime later, around mile 17, Susan must have stepped off the road because I had caught up with her, but not for long.  Everyone, including the runners doing the 51 kilometers, had an 8-hour cutoff.

Mile 15 -- 12:08.14
Mile 16 -- 11:42.58
Mile 17 -- 12:10.74
Mile 18 -- 11:57.78
Mile 19 -- 12:24.80
Mile 20 -- 13:11.70

By here, the equation said that I could power walk it and finish in 5:53.  And I decided to follow suit. 

The trick here, though, is that this was a 5K out-and-back past the finish line.

You could see off into the horizon where the police car was flashing its lights at the 51K turnaround and on this morning, I'm thankful that I wasn't tackling that distance.

Mile 21 -- 16:42.33
Mile 22 -- 16:23.16
Mile 23 -- 16:23.38
Mile 24 -- 16:50.29

I pretty much kept to the pattern until I realized that I might be able to run a little more.  On the way back to the finish, I saw San Antonio's Larry Macon.  I realized that things had gotten better for me recently with the work that I've been doing.  In Kansas, where I tried to do a marathon on nothing (after Rocky Raccoon two months before), Larry beat me, I think, for the first time.  Not today.  Larry has crossed off the states, though, 14 times and has run over a 100 marathons in a year two or three times.  Incredible.

Mile 25 -- 14:05.60
Mile 26 -- 13:22.88
Last .2 -- 2:35.05

All in all, I'll take the 5:54.  It isn't sexy, but it is a finish.  Sea level one Saturday; at altitude, the following Sunday.  It is something that I'm really happy with - especially with my non-standard training, which included 80 minutes on the bike Thursday night, an hour on the treadmill early Friday evening and a 5K race on Saturday morning.

One final note:  When I updated my master list, this race is the sixth worst of my 43 marathon finishes.  Yet I feel good about it.  The five below it I had no business of doing, which includes finishes in four different states, but I'm content with my effort knowing where my fitness level is and the course difficulty.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Outrigger's 5K Race Report

My friend, Bill Dwyer, calls me an outlier.  I would qualify that.  I might be an "average" outlier.

Somebody like Michael Wardian would be a real, big-time outlier.

"Outlier" is a scientific term to describe things or phenomena that lie outside normal experience.

I thought having fun was normal.

It is about 2 p.m. and I'm at Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport.  I'm waiting to get on a plane to Las Vegas to run tomorrow morning's (at midnight) Extraterrestrial Midnight Half Moon Marathon.

If I'm successful, it will be a marathon finish in my 28th state of our great country.

So, sure, the normal thing to do would be to run a 5K.  Right?

Alright, I guess "outlier" might be appropriate.

Especially when you bring your time - in an effort to get back into better running shape and get ready for February's Rocky Raccoon 100 -- in the distance down to its lowest in the last 60 days.

I made the drive down to Seabrook for this morning's Outrigger's 5K.

It is one of those runner's races.  Just a simple out-and-back.  Two aid stations.  In my friend Bill's days, there might have only been one at the half way point.  (Disclaimer:  Bill is only 10 years older than me.)  I just wasn't running before 2003.

Ten-year age groups.  Otherwise, it is come out, run hard, drink beer, have some pizza and cookies, spend time with your friends and go home.

Of course, I ran the King Salmon Marathon in Cordova, Alaska last Saturday.  So a week later, I was toeing the line of a 5K, but I've actually done traditionally well the Saturday after a marathon in the past.

It is Texas.  It was warm and humid.

I hit the mile one marker in 9 minutes even.  That keeps coming down, which is a nice thing to see.  I just need to sustain it.  If I can, it gets me under 28, which I've done once - in August 2010.

The next two miles were almost equal - 9:48 and 9:49.  Sheesh, I actually walked a little in both of these miles.  That's what gives you the incentive to keep working hard -- and then work harder to stay there once the goal race comes about.

But I've made some pretty decent changes in diet -- cut out 98% of the sugary drinks and have increased my workout output.

So it was a 29:26 5K.  I'm happy.  Seriously, can't wait for it to get cooler as I love running in cool weather.

Nonetheless, I enjoy racing my way back into "shape" - for me.

I'm signed up for a 5K next Saturday and a pair of 10K's before wrapping up the month.

The next marathon beyond Sunday will probably come the first weekend after Labor Day.  Hopefully, it will be a little cooler in Bozeman, Montana, which is where I hope to run my next one for another new state.

The roll call of people is always fun to go through.  It is why I go to races.  I get to spend time - and talk to and with great people.

The Running Alliance Sport race crew was there:  Robby Sabban, Vicki Davis, Jay Lee, timer Richard Campbell and David Stockton.  Bay Area Running Club's Dennis Malloy and Veronica Hoge were manning the halfway aid station.

Always fun to talk with Suzy Seeley, who was pushed by Sabra Harvey.  The elder stateswoman of the two, in the 60-64 age group, sat on Suzy and passed her at the end, but it dragged Suzy under 21 minutes.

Alfonso Torres, June Harris and Michelle Bitterly were some of the other BARC regulars that were there.  Chatted a little with Buddy Brown, who frequents many of Robby's races.

Ken Johnson made the drive down from Huntsville.

Also had fun hanging out and talking with one of Karen Thibodeaux's photographers, Rhonda.

All in all a good morning.  Let's hope tomorrow morning is just as good.  I just don't know if to expect another 5:06 so soon.  This one might be a little bit more challenging, but it will be another state on the road to 50!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

King Salmon Marathon (Cordova, AK) Race Report

It's Saturday morning and threatening rain, but that's normal as you later learn that you're in a community that gets the most snow of any town at sea level. (This past winter, the total was 30 feet of the white stuff.)

The school bus you ride with another 15 or so of your newest friends from across the country and Alaska looks like it came straight off the set of the Partridge Family. (If you're younger than 30, you might want to Google that.)

One of the five comments on states that they assigned a car to every runner to ensure that you didn't get chased on the course by a bear or a moose. (Obviously, an attack hasn't materialized; therefore, the 1:1 vehicle to runner ratio wasn't in play in 2012.)

You know it is a point to point course and you know that part of it will be on gravel; however, after you get off of the pavement, where the Merle "Mudhole" Smith Airport is, you realize that it isn't the halfway point. It is at about mile 15 and the majority of your race will be on gravel.

The bus keeps getting farther and farther away from town and you surely think that the bus driver is adding extra miles and turning it into an ultra.

But you get to a point where the gravel becomes kind of sandy, the road goes no further (as the only way you can get to this town is by ferry and by air) and first of almost 30-plus orange cones that you'll run by marks the starting line.

All of the runners get off, find a bush, and within five (5) minutes, the start of the King Salmon Marathon in Cordova, Alaska begins - with everyone ON the starting line. Needless to say with just 15 runners - down from the past two years - everyone gets to toe the line like an elite.

I don't know how other runners who are trying to run a marathon in all 50 states target their races, but for me, it is: if the schedule fits and I can get there (without bankrupting me), I'm there.

I found the race on and then started to see if I could make the logistics work while I took Waverly on vacation to Alaska. And this adventure turned out not to be cheap, but in about 13 months, I would be able to have checked off two of the hardest states to get to: Hawaii and Alaska.

And while running the Gold Discovery Run in Fairbanks the Sunday before did I realize that I could realistically count that 16.3-mile trail run as my half marathon for Alaska too.

So even though Alaska was the 49th state to be granted statehood to the United States of America, it was 47, 37 and then 27 for me.

When I finished the Alaska Men's Run in Anchorage on Saturday - a 5-miler - that made the 47th state that I had finished a race in, leaving Michigan, Rhode Island and Vermont.

The Gold Discovery Run gave me a half marathon in 37 states.

And finishing the King Salmon Marathon in 5:06:03 -- my 7th best time in 42 marathon finishes -- would make a marathon in 27 states.

Yes, the adventure has been fun. On the bus to nowhere, there were the following:

+ A husband and wife, daughter and boyfriend from Wasila, Alaska. Yes, the home of Todd and Sarah Palin, who were in The Woodlands the day before for a political rally for Ted Cruz.

+ A young man, who ended up finishing third and running 3:22, from New Jersey who was running his second marathon ever and running for the Challenged Athletes Foundation in New York City this coming November.

+ A woman from North Dakota, who I learned had run the Extraterrestrial Midnight Half Moon Marathon in Rachel, Nevada twice. This is the site of my next marathon -- a week away!

+ A woman who had run the Texas Marathon in Kingwood in January 1, 2011. Small, small world.

+ A woman from the Missouri area who was at the Run For the Ranch Marathon in Springfield, Missouri this past December. I had run the marathon there and she had run the half.

+ Another woman was running her first marathon -- and she and I would battle each other for the last couple of miles.

When we were on the line, we were already late. So there was no gun to fire, no timing system to make sure that was ready and no pretty red head to sing the National Anthem.

My only worry was: not to finish last.

By the time that the first mile was over, I knew that was safe as there appeared to be a walker in the group.

A gentleman from Soldotna, Alaska started behind me, but by mile two he was ahead of me and would stay that way, finishing just under five hours (as I would later find out at the evening dinner).

He told me later that when he had to go to the airport, off the course at mile 15, to go to the restroom, he was worried that I would have gotten in front of him.

The woman from North Dakota was stopping to take pictures.

The woman from Wasila was doing a run/walk and it took me to mile three to get ahead of her.

The lady who was doing her first marathon stayed close for the first few miles, but I wouldn't see her again until the self service aid station at mile 12.

This is where nature called and I'm glad that there was a port-a-john. I had seen a state park restroom on the way out, but couldn't find it while we were running back in.

As stated earlier, the pre-race material stated that the half-way point was at the airport. Well, not exactly.

Once I hit the pavement, I was really good to go. With the exception of stopping at an aid station (near 16 and near 20), I was still running and clicking off sub 12-minute miles.

With six miles to go, I had caught the woman who had done Kingwood in 2011 and shortly thereafter, I passed a man who - I found out later - was doing the half marathon. I couldn't place him on our bus, but I figured it was possible that I could have missed him.

I was still running fairly strong - surprising even myself, but fatigue started to set in in the third to last mile and at the sign that said, "Two miles to go", the woman who was running her first marathon was on my heels.

Plus, her husband had biked out to see where she was and my biggest concern was that she was going to use that assistance to pass me. Perfectly OK, of course, but aren't we all a little competitive?

There was a water stop right before the last mile so I gulped down a cup and resolved myself not to get passed in the last mile. My only words to her was that I was going to do my best to keep it under 5:10 -- and I was at 4:55 at that point.

Waverly, of course, was waiting at the finish line, which was in the parking lot of the Cordova Community Hospital. She could see runners on the main road as they cleared some trees and even she said later on that she didn't want the woman to beat me.

She didn't. I held on by about 30 seconds to post a 5:06:03 -- my 7th best marathon time in 42 finishes.

Waverly had run the Humpy 5K, which started at 10:45 a.m., and did so in 38:46.

A very different, but positive experience. The race director, Kristin Carpenter, went out of her way to take care of everyone and continued to do so at the Awards Presentation that evening.

My splits are listed below (as you can see the mileage signs told you how many you had left to go, which actually was a good motivator):

First 1.2 - 12:53.56
25 to go - 10:48.15
24 to go - 10:53.57
23 to go - 10:53.59
22 to go - 11:33.62 (included self serve water stop)
21 to go - 11:10.04
20 to go - 11:02.01
19 to go - 11:05.64
18 to go - 12:46.78 (included self serve water stop)
17 to go - 10:59.59
16 to go - 10:02.20
15 to go - 11:51.49
14 to go - 16:12.94 (included self serve water stop and port-a-john)
13 to go - 10:57.00
12 to go - 11:06.79
11 to go - 10:53.38
10 to go - 13:18.65 (included water stop and GU)
9 to go - 11:43.19
8 to go - 11:44.89
7 to go - 10:19.17
6 to go - 11:41.39
5 to go - 11:20.55
4 to go - 11:33.57
3 to go - 12:38.24
2 to go - 11:55.54 (included water stop)
1 to go - 11:49.77

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sealy 5 Alarm 5K Race Report

I am thankful that I get a chance to do a lot of neat things.

My very good friend Bill Dwyer shared something in this week's note to his group of runners.  The quote from Chrisopher McDougall was, "The reason we race isn't so much to beat each other, but to be with each other."

I can't tell you how many races I've done since January 2003, but I enjoy getting out, being around people, putting myself out there, making new friends and further developing the quality friendships that I already have.

I have some goals, but they aren't end-all, be-all goals.  However, I must get ready for them, and because there's a certain level of discipline that I lack, I race often to facilitate training.

Plus, racing is a frequent benchmark of where I stand.

The challenge is to not do too much of it so where it inhibits you from reaching your goal.

I probably shouldn't have run 14 marathons leading up to Rocky Raccoon this past February, but I did and I learned from it.  Come mid-November, my body had taken a beating for the great month of racing I experienced in October.

I ran with Waverly at the Astros Race For The Pennant 5K for the two of us to enjoy a race together. 

As I mentioned, I know that those days - with her planning on going to Liberty University for college - will be fewer and fewer.

The following week, I ran the Heights 5K Fun Run for me.  And, man, was it an eye opener.  32 minutes, 31 seconds.  Yikes!  I hadn't seen that time since my first year of running and racing.

But I've changed my diet some and have increased my workout load, and the results have started to come.

My original plans was to race the 5-Alarm 5K in Sealy Friday night, drive to Austin, get up, drive into Lampasas, run the Toughest 10K in Texas and then drive to Tulsa and do a long duathlon today.

While there were some questions about being able to make it to Tulsa in time to pick my packet up on Saturday evening, those plans were shuttled once I learned that our church's Youth Department was going to lead today's church service to share how Christ worked in their lives at youth camp two weeks before.

I didn't go to Lampasas, instead running 10 Saturday morning with friends from The Woodlands Running Club, but I did keep the 5K in Sealy on the schedule.

The race called for a 10 p.m. start as part of the city's Sealybration.  I arrived well before 8 p.m. - after misgauging the time necessary to drive to Sealy from Spring, but got to see and visit with Greg Zarate, who timed the BMI 5K race for us in Conroe, from Run Houston Timing.

The good news for the 5 Alarm 5K?  They had a bigger turnout than they expected.

The course ran through the streets of Sealy, although they weren't the most-lighted ones - at all.  At some points, the race was just downright unsafe because you couldn't see in the middle of some streets where you were planting your feet!

Nonetheless, I ran pretty well.  (This gave me a race in my 71st Texas city or town.)

I had picked up two new pair of shoes earlier in the day from Fleet Feet Sports in Shenandoah.  One a pair of Cumulus and the other a pair of Nimbus.  I normally run in Asics' Fortitudes, but when I went to first inquire about another two pair Asics had backordered my 12 EEEE until the early fall.

I chose to run in the Cumulus Friday night and they are perhaps the lighest shoe that I've worn after starting out in the Brooks Beast back in 2003.

My "chip" time was 30:11, but some of the elite runners that were there felt like the course was 100 meters long.  If so, that represented 34 seconds based on the my 800s from Wednesday night's track session - or an equivalent 29:37.

And that is almost a three-minute improvement in six weeks. 

I'm happy with my effort lately.

I made a new friend in Sealy's Mary Ann Ramirez, who was the interface between the fire department and the timing company.  She had just finished the Bear Lake double in Idaho and Utah last weekend.  (I had done the Bear Lake Half two years ago - a week after doing a half in Montana.)

I also saw and spoke to Leno Rios and his girlfriend (whose name I didn't catch), Annie Hadow, Stacy Holden, Gordon Christie (who is looking to qualify for The Woodlands Marathon as an elite runner this year as opposed to one of the pacers) and Susan Walters

I also talked to a gentleman, who was new to racing, that had been at the 5K in Crosby two Saturdays before, and Dallas' Karol Curran, who travels far and wide to racewalk races of all distance across the Lone Star state.

All good stuff -- and like Bill said, it is why I like to "race".