Country Music Half Marathon – PR and Recap!

So, how’d it go?  The race?  My second half marathon?

Let’s get that out of the way first.  Drum roll please…

My official time was…

1:43:03 – a PR by 1:08 minutes.

Honestly, I wouldn’t have made it without TJ pacing me.  The last 1.5 miles were mostly up hill.  That, after a lot of hills in the first 8 miles and trying to keep below an 8:00 pace… Which I did for all but the first mile.

Here is the graph and the splits:

Country Music Half Marathon

Country Music Half Marathon

My phone said I ran 13.33 miles rather then 13.1, so the times are a little off.

On to my recap

Philosophically, I view racing as similar to childbirth (please don’t get offended with me ladies).  The fact is – it hurts while you are in progress, but after it is over, you can barely remember the pain.

It was a beautiful morning.  We got to our reserved parking area in pretty good timing.  We met @BigBigGeek and @David_Topping and talked for a bit.  Then to the porta-potties for an hour wait – that was crazy.  TJ and I rushed off to coral #3 and left RS and the others to finish their business.  By the time we got done with the port-potties, it was just 10 minutes until race time.

We in just a few minutes the corals began moving. When we got to the starting line, somehow we were in coral #4 rather then #3.  I don’t know how that happened, but the 3:30 marathon pacer was also in our coral, which ended up being a very good thing.

I have never run a race with 20,000 people in it.  Actually I think the half marathon had 20,000; I’m not sure about the total with the marathoners.

We heard the horn and began our run.  It was tight.  It was hard to run freely for at least a few miles.  The first mile was our slowest at  just over an 8:00 mile (which really wasn’t bad).  That was mainly due to congestion.  Shortly after mile one, we ended back running past the corals with people standing and waiting to run.  I guess there were near 30 corals.  I thought of RS who was around coral 22.  We were 30 minutes into running before he even began.

TJ helped me make an unofficial goal to keep the 3:30 marathon pacer in sight as we never saw the 1:45 half pacer after the start.  This was hard for the first 3 or 4 miles.  He would get a bit ahead and we would slowly catch up.  The crowds were just too deep to get around.  I would see an open area and do a quick sprint to get ahead (the one thing TJ said was a mistake after it was done – he said we should have saved that energy and been patient to get around people… good point).

Finally after several miles we caught up with the pacer.  We hung with him until mile 10 or so.  This was huge for me.  Let me digress a bit and say the hills on this route were crazy.  The first 8 miles or so seemed to be one hill after another.  I could feel my mountain runs kicking in after a while.  I have done quite a few mountain runs in the past few months, but never at an 8:00 pace.  Though when I was running this race and I was getting tired, my legs seemed to keep their strength.  I needed that!  As we went up and up and up and up, my legs were good.  I was tired, breathing hard and wondering why I was doing this at times, but my legs kept me going.

Mile 3 TJ gave me my first GU. Mile 7 I had my second and mile 11, the course provided one.  Perfect.  Each time I was fading a bit, the GU kept me going.  I was so glad for them.

Finally the day got warm.  It started in the 50’s, but by mile 8 or so, it was warming up a bit too much.  This is where I first hit a small wall.  I was thinking, “I don’t know that I’ll make it the next 5 miles”.   This was when I had a neat experience.  Generally I tune out during a race.  I honestly didn’t notice much.  I just concentrate on running the race.  At this small wall experience, I ran past a person holding a sign that said, “The joy of the Lord is your strength”.  I prayed, “Lord, that is true, so please give me some strength”.  A moment later we ran past a large church with a praise band playing “Mighty to Save” by Hillsong.  I love that song and after a moment listening to it as we went by, I felt rejuvenated and had run past the wall.  Pretty cool.

Finally at mile 9 TJ said it looked like the marathon was splitting between the full and the half.  I panicked.  I had kept a perfect pace with the 3:30 pacer for 9 miles and I wasn’t ready to go it without his lead.  Fortunately I didn’t have to.  We didn’t split.  We kept following him.  Then a good thing happened.  At mile 10, we somehow got ahead of the pacer.  I looked around because I didn’t see him and he was behind us.  We never saw him again.  We just kept with our pace and at mile 11 the route split and I was fine.  Very cool.

Finally the last two miles.  I can do this.  Little did I know that they would be mostly up hill.  Seriously?  I just ran up and down tons of hills, and now, after keeping below an 8 minute pace for 11 miles I am going to have to finish with nearly 2 miles of hills.

At mile 12.5 I told TJ that I couldn’t continue.  I felt like it was too much.  He encouraged me saying we only have a little left to go and to try to keep my pace up so I’d beat my 1:44:11 PR.  Honestly, I don’t know how I did, but I did.  Without TJ there, I would have slowed down.  I doubt I would have walked, but I know I would have not kept up my pace.

We finally began going down a hill.  A runner who had finished was walking up the hill we were running down and saying, “It’s all down hill from here”.  I pushed as hard as I could.  A couple guys ran hard past us at the very end and TJ took off and passed them with just a few hundred of feet to go.  I had nothing left.  I just put everything in my body to get to the finish.  Everything.

I finished.

1:43:03

Personal Record.

Hills.

3:30 pacer.

TJ

Gu

RS

Bands

Runners

You (for reading this far)

Thank you all.  It was well a done race.  I hated the hills, but my mountain prepared me for them.  Once again, without TJ I would not have come close to the time I had.  Thank you TJ.  Thank you to my family for letting me spend a weekend away to run this race.  Thank you to everyone who liked my “results” post.  Blogging makes running so much more fun.

Tom

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2 years running today!

2 years ago today I ran 1.5 miles.  I weighed in at 220 after losing 58 lbs.

My pace was 12:44.

That was the beginning.

Yesterday I ran 5 miles at an 8:30 pace.

It has been a good two years.  Lots of races (wish I did more).  Lots of fun with TJ, RS and @BigBigGeek.

My PRs are:

  • 5K – 21:43
  • Half Marathon: 1:44:11
  • Marathon: 4:14:32

I’ve never run a 10K or a 10 miler.  No reason, just haven’t done it.

This is a short post and business will keep me from posting the next day or two, but once again, thank you for taking this journey with me.  I appreciate everyone who reads the blog.

Tom

One year of writing a running blog

Today is my 1 year anniversary of writing this blog.

Okay, that deserves a picture!

Happy Anniversary To Me

Happy Anniversary To Me

It has been a crazy year.  When I started this blog, I had only run 5Ks and was preparing for my first half marathon.  I also had lost about 85 lbs and would loose another 15 (10 of which I gained back over Christmas.)

Since then, I ran my half marathon in 1:44, my marathon in 4:15 and PRed a 5K in 21:48.

I got hurt.  I thought I hurt my achilles, but actually it ended up being a heel spur.  I also jammed my hip during my marathon training and am still getting past it all.

I trained for my marathon in the hot Alabama Summer.  Nothing like getting up at 4:00 AM, working until 2:00, going to the Chiropractor till 4:00 and then trying to run in 100+ degree heat.

I missed qualifying for Boston by 45 minutes.  Still not a bad first marathon.  I had wonderful participation on my blog during my marathon as I ran and my brother kept people up on my progress.  TJ missed qualifying for Boston my 3 minutes – I was very proud of him.

Also a year of my Lovely Wife supporting me and putting up with me being out running 1-3 hours a day!!!  Thank you Lovely Wife! I honestly couldn’t do this without you!

So here I am.  One year to the day of starting my blog.  This is my 322nd entry.

Thank you to all of you who follow and encourage me on my journey.  It has been a heck of a ride so far.  I am not giving up on my goal of Boston.  I am going to do it.  I will continue until I make it and then… maybe start ultras?

One year down, another on the way.

God bless you all.

Tom

Long run chatter. The Voice! I hate that Voice!

I was 10.25 miles into my long run.  Frankly I was surprised I made it that far, but I needed to make another 7-8 miles.  There was a lot going against me.

First, I am still not over my sinus infection.  It is better, but not gone and it hit me hard Saturday night and I woke up Sunday feeling tired and a little sick.

Then there is the 5K I ran just 24 hours before.  I ran as hard as I could and I have never been able to run the day after a 5K because my body is way too sore.

Finally had I just drank water, had some Cliff Block Chews and I ran my tenth mile way too fast.  My thoughts were, “maybe I should call it a day”.  “I still have 5 weeks before my marathon”. ” Who would criticize me for running 10 miles after such a busy weekend”.

Then my phone rang… It was my work… I had to help someone with an IT issue.  I stopped running.  I talked on the phone for 10 minutes.  In the mean time, TJ ran past me on his run and another runner ran past.  I finished the call.  I stood there thinking,  “What do I do?”  I was tired and hot.  It was getting close to 80 degrees and 90% humidity.  I was soaked.

One more mile, I decided.  I’ll run one more mile and see how I feel.  I’ll slow down a bit, try to run relaxed, not push.  After all, 11 miles is better than 10.

I finished that one mile and went for another.  I finished that and then another.  By the time I finished, I made a distance PR of 17 miles.  2 miles farther than I have ever run.  I also managed to keep an average pace of 9:15/mile.  I am so glad I didn’t give into that voice.

THAT VOICE!

I hate that voice.  It talks to me on all my long runs and hard workouts.  It is constantly telling me to give in.  Give up.  There is always tomorrow.  You are tired.  You are hot.  Today is just a bad day.

NO!

I have decided that that voice is not my friend. Yes I have to be wise and if I get hurt, I’ll know I am hurt.  But there is no way for me to run a marathon in 5 weeks if I let that voice be my friend any longer.

So I am going to work my hardest to ignore this voice and move forward.  My goal is to run this race and do my best.  However if I bring this voice along with me, I will just live in fear the whole race.  My goal for the next 5 weeks is to silence this voice and move forward confidently and wisely and make the right choices based on fact and not on “a voice”.

Today is my off day.  I have a trip to the chiropractor this afternoon and then I hope I can rest for the evening.  It was a great weekend for running and I feel much better than I did about my upcoming marathon.

Thank you all for your comments and encouragement!  I am so thankful I started this blog!!!

Spring Scramble 2013 5K race results – What a difference a year makes!

Wow, it was a fun race.  Although none of us (TJ, RS or myself) met our goals, we all did well.

Just a quick recap.  The Spring Scramble was the first race of any type we ran last year after we began running.  In fact, I had only run 3 miles a couple times before the race.  So this race has memories attached to it.  I figured I would first post how we did last year and then post this year’s results.

Last year’s race results were:

Me: Finished 83rd overall, last in my age group at 31:28 (10:07 pace).
TJ: Finished 11th overall, first in his age group at 22:27 (7:13 pace).
RS: Finished 90th overall, last in his age group at 32:35 (10:29 pace)

Really not bad considering I had only been running a month and TJ and RS had been running just a couple of weeks.  In fact, TJ ran in old sneakers that had to be glued the night before!

Okay, on to Spring Scramble 2013.

We arrived a little later than planned, but still had time to run our warmups and strides before the gun went off.  It was great seeing collegues from work and a couple of other new friends I’ve made on twitter lately.  I’m not sure they want their names listed so I am being a bit vague on purpose.

It was supposed to rain all day, but didn’t rain a drop.  It was very humid though which made things a little hard, but the temps were in the 70s and being overcast made it a good Spring race.

I did well.  I used my iSmoothRun app and wireless headsets to keep my pace.  I set the app for a pace of 6:30.  I was only 3 seconds behind after the first mile, but I knew by then I wasn’t going to keep that pace up.  The app did help a lot in keeping me running as fast as I could for the whole race.  Of course TJ was way off in front of me and RS dropped back behind me early.  I expected both, as TJ is a much faster runner than I and RS has just started getting over a virus that had him in bed for a week.  He did amazingly well as did TJ in this race.

I also decided not to wear my racing flats because I’ve only warn them twice and they killed my feet during my workout.  So I went with my Saucony Fastwitch shoes.  I love those shoes, but I wonder if I would have done better if I still had my A5’s.

Enough said… Here are our result for this year (the full results aren’t out yet, but this is what we know):

Me: Finished 5th overall, first in my age group at 21:42 (6:59 pace).
TJ: Finished 3rd overall – Wow!
RS: Finished ??? overall, second in his age group!

I don’t have TJ or RS’s times with me, but I will update this post after I ask them.  I know TJ was around 19 minutes and RS around 28 minutes.

So we all got metals, the first time that has happened.

For me personally it was a great race, even though I didn’t hit near the 20:00 mark.  I did PR my 5K by about 25 seconds.  Also, finishing 5th overall was just amazing for me.  Just guessing, there were probably 120 people who came.  I know over 170 signed up.  I think the weather kept some away.  So not a big race, but it was sweet to see the improvement we all had in just 1 year.  I am so proud of my boys!

That’s it for now.  I signed up for another 5K in two weeks.  I’m not going to push it for this one.  I’m just going to go out and have fun.  I don’t yet know if TJ or RS can get off of work to go with me, but I hope so.

Thanks for reading and for all the encouragement during my achilles injury!!!

Spring Scramble 5K pre-race update

I had a great run yesterday.  5 miles with no pain and a lot of fun.  It was the perfect run to have right before my big 5K race on Saturday,.

I must admit that I am still a little nervous about Saturday’s race.  I really want to PR it and I would love to get below 21:00.  My race PR is 22:10 and my neighborhood PR is 21:29.  Time will tell.

Today is my off day before the race.  I usually run much better after an off day and I hope that will help.  The unknown is my running shoe.  My Saucony A5’s had to be returned with a hole in the sole, so I am going to be running in Asics Piranha’s for the race.  I’ve run in them twice so far.  Once was last week as we ran the course to get the lay of the land.  The other time was 2 days ago when I did a hard workout.  The shoes seemed to be sloppy on my feet and started causing a lot of pain on the bottom of my foot.  I think I had them tied too loosely and when I tightened them, they seemed better.  It is a little concerning though since I don’t want to be in the middle of the race and be in pain from and unknown shoe.

Tonight we do our pre-race routine.  Chicken caesar salads with macaroni and cheese.  I can thank by big brother for that since at a 5K we ran last year in Pennsylvania he and his wife made that for dinner the night before and we have eaten it before each race ever since.  We’ve since added watching Seinfeld, “The Race” during dinner – just to get motivated :).

TJ and I are healthy but RS and HM are getting over a bug as is my Lovely Wife, so I don’t know who exactly will be showing up tomorrow.  Either way, it will be fun and hopefully I’ll be prepared.  There will be several people running from my work and @bigbiggeek is coming so that will be fun.

I’ll try to post a short update after the race.

Tom