Saturday, January 31, 2009

5K and 1K Race Report or Running with Large Furry Animals

This morning, Buddy and I got up at 5 am and got our running gear on and headed out the door for downtown to go register for the Rockets Run. This year featured a new Kid's 1K and everyone who participated got tickets to see the Houston Rockets play either Golden State on Saturday night or the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday. Buddy had a ham sandwich and I had my banana and berry smoothie as we headed out the door. Since our start times were not until 7:30 and 8:00 am, I was sure that we would not have stomach issues.

Once downtown and parked in the Toyota Center parking garage, we headed out to the registration tables. Because we waited until the day of the event to register, we only had a choice between L and XL shirts. I found out later that there were plenty of kids shirts but somehow the gal at the table was still asleep on that one when we registered. Once we got our stuff, we headed back to the car to drop off clothing and it hit me like a freight train that I needed to find a bathroom,,,right then...right away! We were wandering (I had a funny walk going on) all around the outside of the Toyota Center and unfortunately, I did not find them in time. Oh well, shit happens and I had a spare pair of clean running shorts in the car, so all was good. At least I had cleared out the pipes before the run. I took a picture of Buddy by the Start Line and then we waited around. It was 51 but breezy so it felt colder. We found a doorway to wait in that was protected from the wind and all of a sudden we realized that we were about to be mauled by a bunch of animals...large, furry animals.
Lions, and Tigers, and Bears...and a whole lot of other critters.
Here is Buddy with Shasta, the University of Houston Cougar.
and here he is with Cha Cha the frog from The Rainforest Cafe.
No limbs were lost posing with Sharkey from the Downtown Aquarium.
Here is Buddy staying warm with Aero the Huskey from the Houston Aeros Hockey Team.
I had no idea that the University of Phoenix had a Phoenix mascot...who knew?
A kookie octopus from the Downtown Aquarium. Buddy thought that he was the perfect size to take over for this job is an opening came up.
And the star of the show, Clutch. Clutch was no slouch and he and all the other mascots ran or walked the entire 1K with the kids. Dang it must have been hot in those suites.
Here are all the kids at the start. And they are off!

I ran down towards the finish line for the Kid's 1K and waited for Buddy to come tearing down the street. There were some pretty fast kids out there finishing the 1K in just under 4 minutes. Some of the parents were not being team players and were trying to get under the rope and on the course to take pictures. That kind of peeved me off. So after a couple of groups of kids came flying over the finish line I saw the person I was looking for...
Buddy came across the finish line at 5:15. Not bad! That is right around my pace. This kid is going to give me a run for my money here soon.Here is Buddy with his finisher's medal.

After that it was time for Mom to run. I was cold and ready to get going. I was able to actually braid my hair this morning. In this growing out process I have been using the running hat to keep my hair from flying into my eyes. It is now long enough to stay in those French Braids. I had on my very loud and bright Newton running flats. The first time I ran in them last October, they jacked up my right calf so bad that I was sore for days. The last couple of runs after giving them a second go have been great. No pain and suffering have come along with the second try. I had not run a 5K in a while so I was kind of interested to see what my mile splits would be after a marathon two weeks ago and some time to rest with easy runs since then. There were 2000 people running the 5K and I got to the start area early as you can see in the photo...and I was able to be up near the front for the start. I lifted weights on Friday and had been doing some dumbbell chops and I had felt that I had popped a rib out of place in my back on the right side just under the shoulder blade. This is somewhat reoccuring issue when I have other issues going on and I knew that it would lead to a nasty side stitch just up and under my front right ribs. Because the rib is out of place the diaphram ends up working differently and the harder the intensity, the sooner the onset of that side stitch. I had this happen a lot last spring about this time of the year when I was doing speed work on the track. I just wondered when it was going to show up during the race. Once we took off, I felt like I was getting passed by every teenager and every person who was wearing their red cotton t-shirt they got in their race packet. I was working and feeling strong, but because everyone was passing me, I felt slow. I hate that feeling. I could hold my own with a few people and some speedsters that raced past me would end up walking around mile 2 to 2 and a half. The course had time clocks at each mile which was nice. Here are the splits as best I can remember them:

Mile 1-- 7:24 (HFS!!! That is smoking fast for me. And I was feeling good.)

Mile 2--15:16 or 7:54 (Now I could feel the work. I noticed that my breathing was a bit heavy.)

Around the 2 1/2 mile mark the side stitch hit and it was super duper painful. I was getting warm and pulled the gloves off. Each breath was like a knife to my ribs and I just needed to hold on. I could really feel myself slowing down. I pulled to the side to let the faster people pass as we ran around the back of the Toyota Center and I saw plenty of people that I had passed earlier pass me up. UGH!!! I wanted to walk so bad because of the pain but I forced myself on since I knew I was almost done. We went into the parking garage and down the ramps that the delivery trucks take into the stadium. Running downhill was a little easier, but it still hurt. I saw the 3 mile time clock...

Mile 3--23:45 or 8:29 (DANG IT!!!)

As we ran onto the center court I saw Clutch and the time clock for my finish

Finish Time (Un Official)--24:15 WHOO HOO!!! a PR!!! I just wonder what my time would have been without that lovely side stitch?

I found my TNT buddy Ulises who was in the Marathon group that I coached last year and soon after that we found Erich and Jarntip from last year's TNT tri team. We all seemed to have good races and after grabbing some water and a seat in the stands to recover, we decided to head out to the finisher's party and find my kid at the section where they had all the inflatable obstacle courses and the basketball toss. When I get a look at the official finishing times I want to take a look at where I finished in my age group. It seemed that I was not that far off from the 3rd place finisher's time in my age group and I would be curious to see how I really did. All of us got ticket to the Tuesday night Rockets game against the Chicago Bulls. We are all going to coordinate meeting up so that we can pick up our tickets at Will Call at the same time so we can all sit together. Stay tuned for pictures from the game.

Here is one last parting shot of Buddy with the Texas Southern University Tiger. He had been too tired to run. I guess someone had him by his tail.
Sorry for any typos, but the spell checker is not working.

Later Gators,


Sunday, January 25, 2009

You're hot and you're cold...

Houston weather is so strange in the winter. One day it is warm and sunny and in the mid 70's and then the next day it is in the 40's or 50's. It seems that for the past few weeks it has been warm during the week and cold on the weekends. This week was no different. On Thursday I was ready to go out and run again after taking a few days off after running 26.32 miles on Sunday. I went out on a warm afternoon and got in a good hour long run. I stayed as hydrated as I could but at the end of my run I was still covered in salt since the humidity was low. Friday was 76 and my day to lift weights. I could tell that I had not lifted the Friday before the marathon and my legs were in a slightly jell-o stage when I finished but if felt great.

After weights, I was on a mission. I had to figure out what to get El Esposo as a useful and practical gift for our 16th wedding anniversary.Here we are 16 years we are just a few weeks ago. El Esposo can be a very hard person to get a gift for and somehow I seem to hit the nail on the head most of the time while feeling like I am flying by the seat of my pants. Of course there has been the pair of Sperry Top Siders that he did not tell me were too big until after he had thrown the box away and tried to wear them in Key west with a pair of socks. And then there was the great pair of pants and shirt I got him for his birthday last year and he has yet to wear them even after I went back to the store and got the correct pant size. I have learned to not get him any clothes and to double check shoe sizes. So this time I had the light bulb moment as I was getting off the 610-Loop near the Galleria. I had mentioned to El Esposo that his running/bumming shoes were almost 2 years old and needed to be replaced. Since El Esposo does not run in his running shoes, he does not go through running shoes like I do. (more on that later in the post) However, getting to part with his Pearl Izumi shoes was proving to be as hard as separating Linus from his blanket. I dodged into the New Balance store and had the store manager help me get a good pair of supportive shoes. They were more expensive than any of my running shoes so they better last him another 2 years. I ran into Barnes and Noble and picked up a book on the iPhone since El Esposo liked the one he got me for Christmas so much that he got himself one last week. Both gifts were a hit and I got a great surprise as well...
This is the most awesome thing. A fruit arrangement! I have been snacking on it all weekend and I used some of the fruit to make a smoothie. After swim practice, we went to a neighborhood Italian restaurant for a family diner.

On Saturday morning I was up at 5:30 am and when I stepped outside it was still warm and in the 60's but it was windy. Normally the wind does not pick up until after the sun comes up so I knew that a cold front was coming through. I put on a pair of capri tights and threw my Sugoi cycling jacked that I bought at the Clearwater 70.3 race last year. It was only the second time to wear it since it has been warm here and I found out to my delight that it was warm and wind proof! Sugoi gear is the BOMB!!! I love every piece of clothing that I have from this awesome company.

When I got to the park to ride the temperature had fallen ten degrees and the wind picked up. So after some chilly miles on the bike and a short run, Coach Luke fired up the grill and we tossed some burgers on the grill. Those were yummy. After a TNT recruiting meeting, I headed home to hit the shower and clean up. El Esposo, Buddy, and I went out to dinner with Greyhound, Mrs. Greyhound, and Superpounce. I could not help myself and dug into the bowl of chips and queso and I paid for it later. I hate my food allergies. I ended the evening at a birthday party for my TNT buddies Mari and Terry. I ended up leaving sooner than I wanted to, but my stomach was going south.

I spent most of the day in my sweats on the couch as my stomach settled out and the headache took over. Note to self...STOP EATING STUFF THAT YOU KNOW IS GOING TO MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE HORSE DUNG!!! I felt a little better in the afternoon and I went through my closet and pulled out moving box full of race t-shirts and other shirts, a huge box of worn running shoes and other shoes that I no longer wear because they are too small and uncomfortable (my feet just keep getting wider!),
and a bag of nice skirts, pants, dresses, and tops that I have not worn in over a year. El Esposo will take these to work to give to one of his co-workers who goes down to Mexico to visit relatives and takes donated clothing, home goods, and furniture for people in the town where his family lives. I was getting hungry and not feeling like cooking so we went out yet again and went to a new pizza place by us on a tip that they had gluten free crusts. They did have the gluten free crusts! Whoo Hoo! We had a tasty pizza and even a gluten free brownie for dessert.

Tomorrow it is a new day. Back to training. Back to no gluten and no corn. It is really hard but I am tired of having my arms, shoulders, and neck covered in hives and scaly patches of itchy skin. I have even been getting this itchy scaly patches on my scalp on my eyelids of late and that is awful. The congestion is bad. The upset stomach and indigestion is not fun. The headaches suck. The swollen puffy ankles are not attractive. If you want to know how tough it is to eat gluten and corn free, imagine only being able to shop for stuff at the grocery store along the walls. Nothing from the bakery, Only fresh fruits and vegetables. Nothing from the deli counter, and only fresh meats and fish. Pass on by most of the dairy other than milk and certain solid blocks of certain typed of cheese. Stay away from the grated cheese because corn starch is used in the processing to keep the cheese from clumping together. Don't dare put anything in your basket from any of the aisles. Unless the condiments or salad dressings are from the gluten free section where the health food is, it will contain high fructose corn syrup and malt. I am constantly reading labels and going organic. The only thing you can pick up in the frozen food section is frozen fruit and veggies. If you have been looking at your labels over the past week to see if your bars and snacks contain peanut butter and peanut paste due to the salmonella scare, then you have an idea of what the gluten free diet is like. Gluten is in everything and if it is not in the product, the product may be processed in a plant where wheat, rye, barley, oats, and malt is also processed and there could be cross contamination.

Alright, enough of my complaining. At least the temps will be in the high 60's and low 70's for the next few days.

Later Gators,


Monday, January 19, 2009

First Marathon of 2009

I had hoped that I would not have to run 29 miles like last year and I also hoped that I would be a great help to everyone on our TEAM out there yesterday morning. After the nice Inspirational Dinner the night before and picking up my race bib to be out on the course running back and forth without people giving me a hard time about it, I went home to lay out my stuff for the morning and I headed to bed around 10:30 p.m.

The alarm clock woke me up at 3:30 a.m. and I was up without even having to hit the snooze button. I took care of battening down the hatches on my hair and getting dressed as well as eating two bananas and a LaraBar. It was 55 degrees at my house, so I left the gloves and trash bag at home. I grabbed the $7 toss-away zip jacket I had picked up at Wal-Mart and I headed out the door for the downtown Hyatt at 4:15 a.m. Once downtown, I found a great parking spot in the garage right next to the walkway into the Hyatt and I found one of the other coaches filling up on Starbuck's at the coffee stand in the lobby. Within minutes the TEAM started making there way out of the elevators for the 5:00 a.m. call. As we were milling around and I was trying to meet and greet as many people as I could to introduce myself or to let them know where I was going to be on the course, the word was out that there was a celebrity sighting! Of course this celebrity would have been all but unknown to the majority of the people in the lobby of the hotel but for those of us that have been running for a few years and who read our Runner's World magazine from front to back each month, this was HUGE! Over in the corner were some of the male elite runners and in that group doing a little stretching was BRIAN SELL. I gave someone my iPhone and set it to the camera setting and nabbed Brian just before he and the rest of the elite runners were headed out the door to take a car to the George R. Brown Convention Center. I asked him if I could get a photo and he was very gracious and said yes!!! Sorry the photo is a little fuzzy, but you can tell who it is. Tim and I were in awe and hoped that some of his fastness (made up word) would rub off on us. It was crazy putting my arm around him because there are not many men who are bony and skinnier than I am, but he was!

After that it was time for a TEAM photo and to head out the doors for our warm up walk to the GRB Convention Center. Once there we had some time for port-o-potty stops (NO LINES!!!), bagels (I passed), gear drop off, and time to chat. Someone on the intercom system announced that it was time to head out to the starting line corrals and the masses made their way towards the doors. It was cool outside, but I knew that It was going to get warm soon after we got going. I took a group of runners out to find the 4:00 pace group. I was seeing so many of my running and triathlon friends and past TNT participants It was funny. Wasn't this supposed to be a marathon with 20,000 runners??? Why was there hardly the mass of people that I expected? There was plenty of room around and we were pretty close to the start line. We got a couple of pre-race photos and then it was time for the start of the wheel chair athletes and then the National Anthem and our start. Trotting down the street in front of Minute Maid park I saw my tri buddy Geoff on the sidelines waiting for his girlfriend, Sarah, to come by. I gave him a shout out and a wave. As we hit the Elysian viaduct bridge to head into one of the oldest parts of Houston, I pulled out the iPhone for a few photos to see how it would do and here are the results... a fuzzy picture of Tim (He already qualified for Boston so he was running slow with me)I look like the Cheshire Cat in this one. Frankly, this picture scares me. It is what I would look like with a bad face lift.Tim trying to get a picture of me as I ran by...

I dropped Tim off at the mile 3 marker and hung out on the bridge over I-45 and waited for more of the TNT group to start working the pack. I had two of my TNT Tri Alumni give me a shout out and I leaped into the group to run with them. Nik and Tori met in the 2005 tri season and they started dating after the Cap Tex Tri. Nik was a mentor for my 2006 TEAM while Tori was up in Cincinnati going to school. He was flying up there almost every weekend to see her. They got engaged the weekend of our 2007 TNT summer season kick-off and I had to help with the scavenger hunt that Nik sent Tori on. One of the stops Tori had to make was the Kick-Off to find Coach and retrieve a clue. I had not seen them in a year so I had a great time running with them for a mile or two and catching up with them. I let them go and backtracked to find the TNT gang.

I worked back and forth through the Heights between miles 4 and 7 running with so many of the group and asking them if they had been drinking and for some if they had started taking in some salt. Everyone was in good spirits. I told a few people to peel off the long sleeve tops if they needed to since it was warming up quickly now that the sun was up. At mile seven at the end of the Studemont bridge over Memorial Dr. and Allen Parkway I found Coach Art and we hung out there cheering on some of the back of the pack gang before we made a mad dash over to Allen Parkway to watch the pace trucks and the front runner go by. At that point he was near mile 24 and the time clock read 1:54 and there was NO ONE around him at all and we did not see anyone for quite some time.

Coach Art and I started running up Allen Parkway, backwards on the course to go back to mile 21 and into Memorial Park to start meeting our front runners. We got a lot of funny looks and people telling us we were going the wrong way. Um, yes, we know that. LOL! I was the rabbit chasing after our front runners guys. They were happy to see me and for the most part they were feeling good. I gave them some information on the next water stop and told them they were Winners and Heroes and sent them on their was after running with them a half a mile or so and then I ran back to the Budweiser beer truck to wait for the next person.(Bud truck in the background.)
I saw Damon and Stacey who I was at the start line with and they were tired but feeling good other than that. One of the other guys, Lee, was hanging on by a thread. He had a great pace, but he was fading from cramping. I dug out my electrolyte capsules out of my Batman Utility belt and cracked open a capsule in my hand and told him to grab as much as he could and put it on his tongue no matter how bad it tasted. He obeyed and apologized for putting his messy fingers in my hand after they had been his mouth. They were not too wet so I knew he was dehydrated. I got him some water and gave him another electrolyte capsule and sent him on his was. I heard that he finished but he was in bad shape and his family took him home pretty quickly after the event. I worked the half a mile between the Bud truck and the water station after the 21 mile mark for quite some time. I saw Greyhound and ran with him for a while. He hit the 21 mile mark right at 3:00 and he said he was off his pace for a 3:40 pace. He said the pace chick for the 3:40 group was running a 3:35 pace and after 17 miles it had taken its tole on him. He ended up with a 3:49 finish and a PR. Way to go Greyhound!!! I saw lots of non TNT friends and they all had a smile on their faces and gave me a shout out. I got a hand off from Coach Art to run with Matthew. I could tell he was hurting but he would not admit to it. Finally he had to stop and stretch. He said he was cramping up and again I pulled out the electrolyte capsules and pumped him full salt and got him some water. I handed out Motrin to Coach Luke, Skylar, and Tim. I gave out Bio-Freeze to Jim, Dani, and Christine. I handed out Clif shots, Shot blocks, and band-aids. I started to slowly make my way back to Allen Parkway running or walking with people who really needed some companionship to keep them going. I got people to port-o-cans and aid stations to take care of bladders and blisters. I talked to take their mind off of the pain and told funny stories to get them to laugh. They all apologized about going so slow and I told everyone of them that this was not my marathon, but their marathon and I was going to make sure that they finished no matter what. I told them that they were heroes and that there were lots of cancer patients who only wished that they could be out walking or running on such a beautiful day rather than lying in a bed looking out a window or being in too much pain to walk or run.

I made it into downtown and started running the last mile with people and gave them advice for an awesome finisher's photo and held back the emotions as they started to cry from the pain and the sight of the finish line as they told me thank you for everything that I had done for them that morning. I punched through my watch functions and found out that I had run almost 25 miles!!! I decided that 26.2 would be the end for me and so I ran with a few more people and ran back to a point on the course that would get me the full marathon distance and found Tracy. It was her first marathon and she was all smiles. I showed her my watch and told her that it would be an honor to finish with her. She was so happy with her finish. I took her to get her finisher's photo and then inside to get her finisher's medal, weighed in, her finisher's shirt and finisher's mug. I asked her if she was hungry even though I knew she was going to refuse. She did refuse but I told her she needed the food and got her some scrambled eggs and a bagel.

When I got back to the TNT tent I heard that Matthew had told the staff members that I had saved his life in the park and the electrolyte tablets had gotten him to the end of the race. He also asked if they had seen my huge honkin' utility belt. He said it was pretty funny that a little person was wearing that huge belt and running with it, but that I had saved his life. Awe, that made me feel good. :)

I grabbed a bag of mini Oreos for Buddy to take home and a handful of some mini 3 Musketeers candy bites and ran, yes ran, back 10 blocks to the Hyatt to get my car and head home to the family. So yes, I had an awesome day and yes I got a marathon's worth of running out of it. My feet hurt and that is a sign that it is time for new shoes. Today I have to teach class and I better be going.

Later Gators!


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Houston Marathon Time!

Once again it is time for the Houston Marathon and time for me to be the run Sherpa. Those of you who have been around the block with me for a few events may recall this photo from last year...

I was so loaded down with gels, bloks, beans, electrolyte tabs, bandages, petroleum jelly, cell phone, bio-freeze, blister patches, Advil, fluids, and a good sense of humor to get my 78 runners across the finish line. I ran out with my front runners at the start of the event and led the last few across the line and they turned the time clock off after we crossed the timing mat. It was a long day but very rewarding to see my athletes reach their goal.

This year, I let someone else do the coaching but I am going to be out on the course helping everyone on the TNT TEAM who needs a boost. I have done some training runs with them and even ran 18 miles with them one Saturday. I have seen them through their 21 miler and I know that they are ready. I will be heading out with the front runners and then going back and forth along the course in two different places to help the half marathoners in our group and the full marathoners as they come by a few hours later. Again, it will be a long day and I am looking forward to it.

Last year my marathon was actually just shy of 29 miles long with all the back and forth stuff I did along the course. I hope I don't have a repeat of that kind of mileage because I have not been putting in those kinds of miles. The weather is forecast for the high 30's in the morning and warming up to 66 degrees. It sounds a lot like the weather I had for the San Antonio R n' R last November.

I will try to take lots of pictures, so check back early next week!

Later Gators,


Friday, January 9, 2009

Sick and Uninspired

So yeah, I have been absent from the blog for a while. Too long in fact. Part of it was laziness and part of it was that I really did not feel that there was anything exciting to report. Well, the winds are changing and things are starting to get interesting again!

First, I came down with a sinus infection and we had to scrap our Christmas trip to Canyon Lake. Buddy was coughing and hacking and I was running a fever and my nose would not stop running on Christmas day. It was a good thing we went to Church on Christmas Eve because I stayed in my pajamas all day long. Buddy woke me up at 2 am on Christmas morning to tell me Santa had come. He got so excited that he had his own Christmas celebration. This is how I found him around 8 am a few hours later...
Holiday inebriation at it's finest.

I was on medication for the sinus infection and I really did not feel like doing much. I lifted weights and did some Zone 1-2 hour long run workouts and easy swimming to work on drills, but not much other than that. I was in bed by 10:30 on New Year's Eve.

I made a New Year's Resolution to get Buddy to eat more vegetables and on January 2nd, I took him to a farmer's market and let him look at all the cool stuff and pick out three things. He decided that Spaghetti Squash, Butternut Squash, and Black Beans were the way to go. He has helped me pick out the recipes and to prep the food for cooking and tried a taste or two. So far so good! We go back to the farmer's market tomorrow. My step mom, Val, sent me a vegetarian cookbook for Christmas so I am putting it to use.

Well, yesterday I was on my way home from teaching my indoor cycling class when it hit me that I had 3 months until my first of three half-IM distance races and 100 days until the MS-150 ride and that I had to get on the bike. My poor bike has been propped up against the wall since the end of October. I love my bike but I just needed a break and it was hard to get out with all of the other stuff I had going on with the marathon and the holidays. So once I finished teaching my 9 am class I loaded up my bike and drove out to where the traffic is not so bad and I hit the road. I was inspired again. It felt good to be back on the bike and to be the only cyclist out on a bright sunny day with warm temps. You can tell from my smile that I am happy again!

I have my first Informational Meeting for Team in Training to start building our Cap Tex Tri TEAM and the Houston Marathon is next weekend. Things are starting to roll again!

Later Gators,