Monday, October 28, 2013

Race Report: Allstate 13.1

4:30 am came bright and early on Saturday!   The night before Brandon and I had all of our stuff laid out, post race bags were packed, and we got about 6 hours of sleep.  We rolled out of bed race morning, ate the usual peanut butter bagel and out the door we went.   First lets talk about the logistics of the race site first shall we.  Having run several races I start to look for the "little things" that really can speak volumes about a race and if I would sign up again...

  • Since this is still a relatively small race, the race site is easily accessible from 75.  We waited to get into the parking garage where to our surprise we had VIP parking because of it being the Lexus parking garage.  Front and center parking, bonus!  Since the parking is so close to the race we were able to hang out there for a bit, eat our VO2 Prime Bars and just relax. 
  • The saving grace to the race site is that the race is still small so there's minimal wait for the potties and plenty of spots to just hang out.
  • I was able to swap my race shirt for a larger size on site, which is the pro....more about this in the cons...

  • The shirts...oh the shirts.  Not all shirts are created equal when it comes to sizing, and that never proves to be more true than with race shirts.  I realize every race uses different manufacturers and I'm totally cool with that, especially if a sizing chart is provided.  However, when my size "medium" is truly the equivalent to a size "small" and tinkering on the brink of an XS I have to say that's a bit ridiculous.  I tried on the Medium at home and lets just say it was comical.  I was able to swap at the race site for a Large and it's still too small, and I don't even think I'd feel comfortable wearing it around my house.  I have a billion race shirts so I don't care that much, but when you pay $90+ for a race entry you expect to at least be able to wear your shirt.  At least once.  Eh well....
  • The start of the race went smooth except for one minor detail, from what I could see (it was dark out and the site wasn't well lit) there were two entrances into the starting corral.  Entrance #1 was way at the back behind the 3 hour pace groups.  Entrance #2 was up towards the front right by the 1:40 pace group.  Soooooo, I opted to hop in at the 1:40 pace group and just stay out of the way when the race started.  Myself and several others were walking up and down the outside barriers going "How in the heck do we get in there?"
Now on to the race!  I don't know that either of us really had high expectations for this race.  Brandon and I were a little mentally defeated after The Showdown Half.  The brutal heat and humidity took a toll and while we knew the conditions were a huge factor, it still kind of gets you down ya know?  The weather race morning was pretty darn close to ideal.  Overcast and temperatures hovered in the mid to upper 50's.  I got to see Brandon in the corral right before we took off and before you know it, we were off.  Brandon ran this course last year so he was aware of how flat, fast, and smooth sailing the course was.  I started the race and paced based on feel.  I wasn't going to focus on what the ol' Garmin had to say until mile 3. 

 *This is where I was planning on posting a picture of my splits from Garmin Connect.  However, once again my Garmin has failed me.  After having to do a master reset and losing ALL MY RACE DATA FROM THE LAST 4 MONTHS, I have nothing to post here.  I've only had this Garmin since February so to say I'm upset is an understatement.  I pity the fool that answers the phone at Garmin tomorrow morning when I call.  I hope they know it's not personal, but they're going to wish they had called in sick.*

I digress.  Back to the race.....

When I hit the Katy Trail two things happened:
1) I knew that if I kept this pace I would end with a PR today.
2) I had to pee.  Like really really had to pee.

Every potty that I passed was a moral dilemma.  "Do I stop?"  No.  "Maybe I should stop at the next one."  No.  WWJD?  I knew that if I missed a PR by 30 seconds because of a potty break I would hate myself.  So instead I distracted myself for the next several miles and used water sparingly.  Luckily, it worked!  For the record, I'm not above having to pee on myself to hit a PR but thank God I was able to avoid it at this race.  Don't think it didn't cross my mind several times though...

I found the photographer and had a little fun!  I wish I could run without my water belt because they're incredibly unflattering, but I suppose passing out on the course from lack of water or GU is even more unflattering.  If you can't laugh at yourself you aint living right!  ;)

Who's a happy camper on race day?!  This girl right here.

Two thumbs up for knowing I was only a couple of miles away from a PR.  #lovetherun
Approaching Mile 12 I knew this was where the "big hill" of the race was.  Honestly, it's long but it's not a steep hill.  Once you run a full marathon through the hills of San Francisco, everything else gets put into perspective.  I made the climb up mile 12 and saw 2:09 on the Garmin.  I knew I had a PR but more importantly (I know it sounds silly) but I wanted a PR of 2:09:XX instead of 2:10:XX so I just booked it in.  This PR honestly took me by surprise.

Over the last several weeks I had lost a lot of confidence.  I was putting in the miles and the work but when I backed out of the full and had a really disappointing finish time at The Showdown, I was bummed.  I crossed the starting line at Allstate 13.1 with little confidence and just wanting to have a "decent" race.  This race validated that I wasn't crazy.  All of those early morning runs in the miserable heat and humidity were worth it.  My fitness was improving and the results finally showed up on the course.  Whew.

The icing on the cake?  Brandon PR'ed his race too!  A 1:40 finish time was something he thought wasn't possible.  He thought he had peaked.  I'm not going to pat myself on the back or anything, but my coaching techniques that he has actually implemented over the last month or so (slowing down long training runs, implementing tempo runs....aka the right type of pacing is IMPORTANT) might have had a little something something to do with it.  I'm just sayin'.

PR 1:40:25

Half Marathon #13 ended up much better than expected!  Overall, I like this race.  I think there are a lot of little things that need to be improved on but I would sign up again.  The course is a little different than most of the Dallas races and with the structure of the course, there's a good chance to PR.  I'm sure the race is going to continue to grow and with that comes new challenges, so we'll see what next year looks like!   

Next up on the list is the DRC Half Marathon on Sunday, November 3rd!  No PR seeking at this race just looking for an easy breezy training run around our normal stomping grounds of White Rock Lake.

Happy running friends!


Monday, October 14, 2013

Race Report: The Showdown Half Marathon

2012 was the inaugural race for The Showdown and after running that one, I knew I had to come back for the next!  The Showdown is located in Fairview, TX (way out yonder for some) but for us it is right in our backyard.  With 95% of races taking place through the same streets of Downtown Dallas, it is SO nice to have a race with a change of scenery.  Instead of skyscrapers, sewage smells, and running the same streets through hoity-toity Dallas neighborhoods, you get to run the long windy roads of the countryside.  The overall vibe of the race is different.  It's more laid back and friendly.  Along the course you'll pass cows, horses, alpacas and wind your way through some of the most breathtaking neighborhoods.  Neighborhoods where the houses are actually spaced out and have huge front yards and long driveways, remember those?  While the scenery is spectacular, the rolling hills are a beast.

After making the decision to opt-out of another full marathon for the year, The Showdown would be the first of four half marathons over the next 8 weeks.  Or what I'm calling, The Half Marathon Extravaganza.  Since it was going to be the first, and the most challenging course, I decided to approach this race with a laid back approach.  No time goals, no expectations, just looking to finish and have some fun along the way!  Kind of a "practice run" if you will.  Saturday morning we woke up to a temperature of 74 degrees, 95% humidity and a dew point of  71.  So that pretty much says, it's going to feel like running through soup today - embrace the suck.  More so than ever I was telling myself "today is just about having fun, today is just about having fun...."

As always, The Active Joe races go off without a hitch.  The starting area was cool calm and collected, I got to chat with a few our fellow NTX Runner friends, and made the usual visit(s) through the port-o-potty line.  Speaking of, how do you know the race director is actually a well seasoned runner themselves?  They tape off arrows to indicate which port-o-potties belong to which lines.  Brilliant!   I'm just waiting for the day at one of my other races (that aren't so organized) where a full blown riot breaks out over the smuck who goes into the port-o-potty that "wasn't for his/her line".  People are rude.  Especially when they have to pee.  So if you're new to racing, don't be that guy.  Karma will find you, and it will likely find you on the course when you desperately need a potty, and there's not one for another mile or so.  Karma karma karma.

Brandon and I before the race aka Honeybadger and LovePepper (you probably shouldn't Google that at work)
The gun went off at 7:30 on-the-dot and we were off.  It was only about two miles into the race and I was already dripping in sweat.  I'm a sweaty/hot nature person anyways, but you throw that humidity and dew point on top and it's disgusting.  I cruised along and held a comfortable 10:40-10:45 pace through the first 8 miles or so.

Apparently something to my left had my attention....which I'm thankful for because typical race photos make me look like I have a confused look on my face:  "Why am I doing this? >sees finish line<  "Ok, now I remember"
 That was when the heat started to get to me.  I was feeling a little woozy and then the cold chills started to hit.  Since this wasn't my first rodeo, I knew that if I didn't get this under control we'd have a problem.  I slowed to a brisk walk to catch my breath and get some water and gel.  About a mile down the road a lady with a big bucket of ICE cold water bottles was standing there.  Oh I wanted to hug her neck!  She wasn't part of the race but knew the conditions and those cold water bottles were a welcomed site for myself and a couple of guys I was running with, who were hurting as bad as I was.  I poured that bad boy on my head, down my back, and down into the sports bra to get my core temp down.  Heyo!  Pouring ice cold water down your bra is also a really quick way to find out where you forgot to put BodyGlide, feel the burn!   The cold water did the trick and I was able to pick back up again.  (If you are that lady or if you know her, please tell her I said THANK YOU!  I thanked her on the course but seriously, thank you.)  About another mile or so down the road there was ambulance on the road treating a runner who was out cold.  It was another reminder that the Texas weather is a force to be reckoned with.  You can never emphasize enough to new and even experienced  runners the importance of hydration.  Not just hydration immediately before and during the race, but DAYS before the race start hydrating.  Heat exhaustion is no joke and will take you out quickly if you're not careful.  It's also important to know the first signs and symptoms and be able to get it under control quickly before it's too late.  The gentleman who was out cold on the road was being handled by the professionals and had a friend with him, I said a prayer for him and his family and kept going....
Race photos are always terrible so I've learned to appreciate the ones that make me laugh and for whatever reason this one makes me laugh.  I actually have a quad muscle, hello quad muscle (as tiny as you may be)!  These pictures also make me think I should consider spray tanning, yikes. 

Finally the end was near and the finish line was in site.  13.1 miles of rollings hills (lots and lots of them) humidity and heat that made you just plain sad, and the fun of running with a sinus infection were all about to come to an end.  Half Marathon #12 was in the books with a finish time of 2:27:32.  Certainly not my best but I wasn't looking for a PR.  All conditions considered, I'll take it.  It goes down as another chapter in the adventures of running.  Every race serves a purpose, the good the bad and the ugly all happen for a reason.  

The course is hard, for two years now the weather hasn't cooperated, but I'll be back next year.  It wouldn't be fun if it was always easy  :)

Bling bling!