Sunday, March 29, 2009

Angie’s Half Crazy Half Marathon, Clear Lake Texas

This was the second edition of Angie’s Half Crazy. The first edition had a little more than 300 participants. This year’s race proved to be a lot bigger than anyone anticipated. I don’t know what the final numbers were, but I think there were around 900. That is a significant increase for a race from one year to the next. I expected to experience some negative aspects due to extreme growing pains, but I don’t have any real complaints.

My pre-race ritual was interrupted by several things going on around the house on Saturday, and this is what I had to say on another message board I participate in:
This is how you all know that I am really crazy... It is 11:36 pm, and I have my clock set for 3:30 am... I have to leave at 4am to get to Clear Lake by 5:30 am. Last year, this race had only 339 participants... It is approaching 1,000 this year, and the chips weren't in the race packets. I didn't pick up my packet early because I have been working 6 days a week, and couldn't make it to any of the scheduled pre-race packet pickups... So, there will be 1,000 CRAZY runners and walkers all trying to get their timing chips at the same time. Oh boy is this going to be CRAZY!!!

I was able to get up early enough to make it to the race site, University of Houston Clear Lake Campus, by 5:40 am, and park right along the finish line. It was a perfect day for a half marathon. Temps in the low 40’s for the start. Folks were getting ready for the 6am early start, and I didn’t have any trouble collecting my race packet and timing chip. Since I was one of the first 100 to register for the race, I got an extra nice tote bag and a coffee mug with the race logo. There was also some SPF 15 Green Apple lip balm. I thought that was a nice touch.

I went back to the car and waited a little bit for the RD to announce the early start. I went to cheer on the walkers and a few runners who wanted to finish early so they could make it to work on time. They started only a few minutes behind schedule. I went back to the car and ate my banana, pinned on the race number, attached the timing device to my shoe, and waited in the car until about 6:45am. Then all I needed was a trip to the porta potties and a short warm up and stretch. ROTC presented the colors, a young lady sang the national anthem, and we were off.

One of the Houston walkers passed me at the start, and he gave me the incentive to go ahead and race this one instead of take it easy. I only kept him in sight for about 3 miles, though. He is really speedy! I chose to try and do the half marathon with only GU, electrolyte and water instead of trying to eat Clif bars or other solid food. I took the first GU and mile 2 with some water, I drank electrolyte at mile 4, GU and water at mile 6, electrolyte at mile 8, GU and water at mile 10, electrolyte at mile 12, and on to the finish! I was passing back and forth with some Galloway run/walkers, and then one group got away from me. The other group was going at just about my pace, and it became kind of problematic. One of the ladies even cut me off at a water station. I was coming through, just grabbing the water and moving on, and she came to almost a standstill in front of me. I kind of laughed and said, please excuse me ladies… I have to keep moving. She was really nice and I think we both just took it in stride. My first 4 miles were all sub 12 minute miles… the next 7 miles were anywhere from 12:10 to 12:29. I thought there was no way for a PR, and then I finally really looked at the Garmin… It showed 2:13:44, and my dream goal was to finish in 2:40. I started feeling better; I only needed to walk 2.1 miles in 26 minutes. I put the speed back on and walked my fastest two miles to finish in 2:40:51 for 13.28 miles (this is the distance the Garmin registered). My Garmin shows an average mile pace of 12:06, I think the official chip time result will be about 12:17. I didn’t ask the timing folks to look it up for me; I will wait until the results are posted on the race website. The course was certified the distance, it is just impossible to follow any course that precisely. The temperature was only in the low 60’s when I finished the race.

The finish line chute was a little unorganized. I had to look for the person who was retrieving the timing chips, and I couldn’t find the medals. Then I heard someone say they had run out. That’s ok, I know the RD, and she makes my t-shirts for the fun run I host in December. As I said earlier, I don’t think she expected such a fantastic turnout for the second year of the race. My Houston walking friend came up to congratulate me, and I congratulated him also. He let me borrow his medal for a finish line photo, which the photographer insisted on due to my outfit. I was wearing a crazy looking getup, and that made the race kind of fun. My running funky polka dot tights were a hit, even when worn with a mismatched black, white and yellow top with a pink do-rag on my head. I got more comments on those tights than I can even begin to count. I gave lots of advertising!

I went to the car and got my non-fat quad shot iced latte. I just have to drink one of those quickly after the race is over. That seems to make a real difference in my recovery. I went to the post race snack table and ate some cookies and went to sign up for the massage. I heard that more medals had been located. So, I ended up with my medal today after all.

I had a quick massage; they only had a 5 minute time limit. Then I went to get my bbq plate. The post race meal was brisket, chicken, baked beans, potato salad and all the trimmings. Good times, good food, good fun for the day! Everyone stood up to cheer the last finisher in, and then it was time to head home. I was able to thank Angie the RD and congratulate her on a fantastic production.

My DH called me and asked me to get some bbq stuff on my way home. I had to go to Wal Mart dressed like this... When I got home, he had gone and bought the stuff, too. I was really pi$$ed. I don't mind going to a race in a CRAZY getup, but you all should have SEEN the looks I got at Wal Mart. Good thing I decided to go to a store where I don't know anyone.

My previous half marathon PR was 2:47:09, this one was (by my garmin) 2:40:51. What is that about 6:18 better? I think so. I am not sure how this works, but I am going to try to put a few pictures on the blog so you all can see my outfit and the awesome race stuff I got at the packet pickup.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hill Training and other random things.

So, I haven’t blogged anything in quite some time. I have been really preoccupied at work. Retail is tough right now. I don’t have anything else to say about that.

The Silver Classic 5k in Killeen Texas redeemed itself by sending me a certificate for 1st place female walker and some gift cards from Applebee’s. I will send them a thank you note.

I had been taking my training kind of easy… only walking the races and a few weekday miles. My longest walk before last Sunday was the 20k on March. Then the weather changed. It was cold and rainy all week, so I didn’t get any walking done until I went to a track meet on Saturday, March 14 for a 1500 meter racewalk. It was raining and about 42 degrees when I arrived. 5 out of the 10 schools that were scheduled to attend the meet were no-shows. I have a lot of admiration for high school kids who will show up to run in those conditions. I wasn’t really feeling it, but under the circumstances, I felt like I would be the cop out if I didn’t do the race. So, I did. I did a 1 mile warm up, then jogged a lap and stretched before the race. I REALLY didn’t want to take off the wind pants to show the knees, but oh well; I was there, so I did. Not as fast as I wanted to be, but it was so cold. 1500 meters in 10:05:16.

I walked 5.37 miles on the 17th, 7.44 miles on the 19th, and 4.14 miles on the 20th. It was a pretty good week. No walking on Saturday, then it was time to get down to business with the hill training for Mohican.

I will have to sacrifice some of my shorter distance race speed in order to do the hill training, but it is critical that I do it in order to be able to walk the 100 miles at Mohican. I mapped out a hilly 3+ mile loop in Bellville where my mom lives. Sunday morning, not early enough, I went to Bellville to walk at least 16 miles, 18 miles if I felt good. The plan was to walk the loop in one direction, then reverse the loop and add a block on the every other time so that I would only have to walk it 5 times to add up to 16 miles. I also need to get used to stopping at the aid stations, so I set up my own on my mom’s front porch with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fig newtons, fritos, orange slices, water to refill my handheld, a clif bar just in case and some extra electrolyte for the fuel belt. I only brought one GU along, because I am going to try to fuel for the 100 miler with mostly REAL food.

Funny thing, I haven’t had a migraine in a long time. About a mile into my walk I started to see the aura that usually precedes a migraine. I was glad to have the Chocolate Outrage GU along because it has caffeine in it. Caffeine is a quick cure for a migraine. It only took a few minutes for the aura to go away. Did I mention that I was walking up and down hills? It’s funny that Bellville is only 12 miles north of Sealy and it is so much hillier. My goal for Mohican is to average 17mpm, including stops, I want to finish in 28 ½ hours. I was doing great and walking in the grassy shoulders of the roads when I could, and on the pavement when I had to. I made the first loop, then walked around the block and then reversed the loop. The loop also goes around a park where I can practice dodging tree roots, I made it to the park at about 4 miles and that is where I stopped for about 4 minutes to stretch during the second loop. My first AID STATION stop was at 6.7 miles, the end of loop #2. I refilled my handheld water bottle and ate some of the real food. It took me about 4 minutes, not too bad. The walk was going well, and I didn’t start to feel bad at all until about mile 12. I still had a little more than a mile to get back to the AID STATION, so I slowed down a little until I got there. I refilled the water bottle, ate the rest of the PBJ, orange slices and Fritos and brought the fig newtons for the road. After refueling, I felt better. I really could have used that GU at mile 12, but I used the only one I had with me to combat the migraine. Mental note… bring extra GU. I walked mile 15 and 16 at an average pace of 14:45, so I was able to finish the walk strong.

Anyhow, I made it. There was app 2,000 feet of elevation gain and loss over the 16 miles. I didn't stop my timer when I stopped to refuel, but I did keep track of how much time it took me at each stop and when I stopped to stretch at mile 4. Total time (incl 15 minutes dawdle time) 4:09:28, total distance 16.34 miles for an average pace 15:16. So, if I take out the stopped time, my actual walking pace was around 14:20. Average HR 69%, max HR (achieved at mile 12) 78%. This was a really good test. I plan to start doing this hilly LSD every other weekend. I have also started taking yoga to strengthen my core. Once a week after yoga, since I have to drive to Bellville for the class, I will do a hilly weekday walk.

I really thought that hilly 16 miler was going to tear me up, but I went to walk at the track today after work and walked a quick 6.11 miles. It looked like it was going to rain, so I drove to the track instead of walking. I figured if there was a quick downpour, I could always hide under the bleachers for a few minutes until it passed. Well, it didn't rain at all. I usually walk fast when I go to the track for a workout, and today was no different. I'll call it a tempo walk, because the first 5 miles were done in 1:02:27 with an average HR of 153 or 79% and I achieved 175 or what I believe to be 90% at the end of mile 5. The last 1.11 miles were done slow for cool down.

I think the hilly walk on Sunday helped the tight hamstrings rather than hurt them like I expected.

I guess that’s enough for now, except to say that I am walking in Angie's Half Crazy half marathon in Clear Lake Texas on Sunday. It is going to be a fun race, because as I always say... it's better to be crazy than lazy!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Gulf Championship 20k Racewalk March 8, 2009

First things first. I looked at some information on the linear progression of pace as race distance increases. I am by no means an elite athlete, and probably never will be, but I believe the linear progression will hold true with most people - but at their individual level. I had a huge 90 second pr at the 5k distance last weekend (6:47mpk or 10:55mpm). So, I used a formula to calculate what I thought my pace should be by adding 5% to my 5k pace to get a projected pace for 10k (7:08mpk or 11:29mpm), and another 5% for 20k (7:30mpk or 12:04mpm) which should have had me finishing 20k in 2:30:00.
Second… Judging. There was only one judge present, and I know if there had been 3 judges I would have been disqualified. When I took Dave’s clinic in Mesa, I only had a little time with Dave, and he helped me to improve my form to a point where I could probably do a judged 5k without too much trouble. Well, this was 20k. The judge told me today that during the first part of the race, I was looking pretty good. This is what I expected, to start out doing really well, then to kind of fall apart little by little towards the end of the race. Knowing this in advance and still doing the judged race was the hard part. I had no way of knowing that only one judge would be present on the course, but I still went. I had a great time, and really worked hard at keeping the knees straight.
Miles 1-6, I was feeling pretty good… Mile 7 was my slowest mile (12:48), then I decided that I wasn’t going to finish at my projected pace if I didn’t get my butt in gear. During miles 8-11, I walked progressively faster each mile with the exception of mile 11, and mile 12 was the fastest mile of the whole race. The last 4/10 was only a little slower than mile 12.
Anyway, my finish time was 2:32:04 (7:36mpk or 12:14mpm), only 2:04 off my projection which is 6 seconds slower per kilometer, and 10 seconds slower per mile.
I did my last 20k two years ago, the day after I had raced a 10k in Houston. I came away with a pretty sore right hamstring that interfered with my training for several months. That was probably one of the dumbest things I have ever done, and won’t do again. My finish time at that 20k was 2:47:26. So, today’s race, done smarter, was a 15:22 pr at this distance.
I realize that I still have lots of work to do to improve my form, and get my pace down to where I can really compete seriously at the local level; although I am still proud of this performance… I looked at the age grading calculator at, and a 47 year old female with a finish time of 2:32:04 for 20k is age graded at 61.77%

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Judged Racewalk

I have decided to do a 20k judged racewalk at Bear Creek Park in Houston on March 8, this Sunday. I remember doing this particular race 2 years ago, the day after I raced a 10k in downtown Houston. (and coming away from the weekend birthday racing celebration injured) This time, I am going to place all my emphasis on the racewalk rather than walk in another running race the day before.

I also know I said I was going to save the judged racewalking until after the 100 miler... Oh well... Live and learn. Of course, the main reason for participating is that I would love to see the sport of racewalking grow in popularity, and the only way this is going to happen is for walkers to 'stick their necks out' and start doing some judged events.

You all will also be happy to hear that I ordered several copies of Racewalking? Fun! and have contacted the middle school coach here in Sealy Texas. She has replied and wants to have a look at the materials. Our school district has recently (2 years ago) added soccer to the high shcool and junior high sports line-up, so why not racewalking???


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Silver Classic 5k Race Report - March 1

So, I went all the way to Killeen Texas from Sealy Texas (a 3 hour drive) to walk in a 5k that promised age group awards for walkers. I saw several people I know and have raced with in Houston. There was a change of plans from the race organizers. They decided to give ‘certificates’ to the walkers…

It was really cold and windy this morning, so I only warmed up for about a mile or so and stretched before the race. The start was crowded, so I wasn’t able to get any real speed going until about 200 or 300 meters from the start. Then I started passing the slowpokes. My Garmin is set to alert me to slow down if my pace gets below 11:21mpm. Well, it alerted me all the way through the race.

Dave McGovern told me that since I wasn’t able to participate in the HR test at the racewalking clinic in Mesa that I should race a 5k, and send him my HR from about the 2 mile mark. There were a couple of pretty good sized hills starting at around 1.5 miles. My HR got up as high as 184 at the top of the second hill. I am sure my max HR I use to figure my workout zones is going to need to be adjusted higher.

Anyhow, back to the race. I was keeping another walker, Dave Gwyn, in sight to make sure I didn’t back off of my pace at all. I even planned to try and catch him at the end, but that wasn’t in my cards for the day.

I was very excited when I made the final turn and saw 33:xx on the clock, so I tried to get another gear. I crossed the timing mats at 33:54, a whole 90 seconds better than my best to date. (I am also 16 pounds lighter.)

After a while I went to look at the results. I was lumped together with the runners and my time showed correctly as 4th in my age group. The organizers gave out the awards for the runners, and then started to give out the certificates to the walkers. I was never mentioned, and neither were a couple of others who had speedy times. I am not sure, but in my age group, I think they called the winner a woman who had walked 44:xx?

I simply chose not to make a fuss, and neither did the other walker who was basically cheated out of his ‘certificate’. I just know in future to do a little more research about a race before I travel 3 hours for a 5k.