Sunday, November 9, 2008

Living in Houston, Texas

Some time last week the members of our 'Boston 2009' forum group (Runners World website), got around to posting the pros and cons of their respective hometowns. It was interesting to get everyone's take on the merits and demerits of places such as the northern peninsula of Michigan (winter is long, dark and cold); Louisville, CO (#3 best place to live in the USA); Milwaukee WI (beer & brats); Long Island NY (3 miles from some of the greatest beaches); Boston MA (wonderful walking city with many restaurants and great shopping); Minneapolis MN (vibrant running scene, incredible trails, parks & lakes); Columbus OH (excellent running place); Louisville KY (big city/small town appeal) and Gainesville FL (picturesque).

My 2 cents worth? Houston’s weather is lousy but the people are super friendly. We love it despite its many faults (crime, congestion, pollution, did I mention weather?) The diversity is amazing. Literally everything from a thriving GLBT community in The Montrose & elsewhere to the neatly landscaped, access-controlled abodes of the meat eaters & hunters in the suburbs outside Loop 610. Venture down Bellaire Boulevard just west of Beltway 8 and you are in Little Beijing with a good dose of Saigon mixed in.

A true big city environment with entertainment, culture, sport, educational, medical & recreational opportunities galore. Fishing? You bet. Barbecue? Are you kidding me! Rodeo? Duh! Opera, ballet, symphony, theater? Of course and world class all the way. Shopping? Ever heard of the Galleria? The Houston Medical Center alone would be in the top ten downtowns in the country if it were a city on its own. Rice University ranks in the Top 20 in the country. Some excellent and highly rated public and private high schools too. Politically, this ain’t Texas, baby – Harris county is blue in a sea of red. It is a great city for runners – very hot in summer but quite comfortable 7 or 8 months of the year. Downright pleasant in winter, except when the occasional 'blue northerner' comes whistling down the plains from Canada.

Over the weekend, I put together my outline training program for the Boston Marathon. I am hoping to start a 'formal' 18-week training program on Dec 14; until then I will just muddle along and try not to gain any weight. The program is of my own design - the idea being to keep it as simple as possible. I don't want to spend more energy figuring out and managing a tempo or speed workout, than actually running it. I honestly think some coaches over-think the process. So many published marathon programs nowadays include a bewildering variety of distances & paces, phasing, peaking, recovery, tapering, cross-training etc. I don't think it has to be that complicated. We are going to be running a marathon, not a half marathon or a 10K. So this means maximizing mileage without getting injured, and adding some speed and strength/tempo workouts to a solid base of long and medium long runs.

So here is my plan:

* Cross-train (rowing) on Sunday.
* easy run plus short hill repeats on Monday.
* track intervals (mostly 1600m) on Tuesday.
* medium long mid-week run (10 to 13 miles) on Wednesday.
* tempo run alternating with fartleks on Thursday.
* rest on Friday.
* long (group) run on Saturday morning.

I will mix in some weights, flexband and core/abs workouts where/when possible.

This week's running has been excellent. Weather permitting I should get really close to the 1:40 New York Marathon-qualifying mark in next Saturday's half marathon in San Antonio. Here is how it went:

* Sunday: 10K rowing (alternating fast and slow 500 meter intervals), also some weights and an Ab Ripper X workout.
* Monday am: 7 miles total including 1 mi warmup.
* Tuesday pm: 6 total including 4 X 1-mile repeats of 7:07 (HR 148); 7:11 (151); 7:09 (154) and 7:09 (154). And I voted for the first time!
* Wednesday am: 10 miles total including 1 mile warmup; 9 @ 9:12 pace (HR 132)
* Thursday pm: 7 miles total including 4 consecutive miles @ Half marathon HR of 155. The tempo miles ended up being 7:51 (144); 7:49 (154); 7:44 (152) and 7:49 (154).
* Friday: Rest.
* Saturday am: 12 miles total @ 9:14 pace. Gorgeous day.

Total for the week: 42 miles, highest weekly total since well before the hurricane and the knee injury. We're on the comeback trail here!


Go Annie said...

Houston sounds like a very culturally diverse city. Rice is one of the top architecture schools in the nation. One of my favorite professors taught there.

I love how you laid out your training plan and its basic components. It's very straightforward and I like the inclusion of cross training!

Amy said...

My parents and one sister live in the DFW area, I've never been to Houston (drove thru it once on our way home from Galveston, though).

Your training plan looks good - I really need to get moving on mine for the half marathon in March...but I have been struggling with one cold/flu after another that I just can't shake! Frustrating! Good luck with yours in the meantime!

Alexandra said...

You paint a lovely picture of Houston! I have never been but maybe some day! Sorry we send those blue northerners your way!

Simplicity is the key, even when it comes to running programs. Yours sounds perfect!

johnking said...

I like the layout for your boston plan. It's great to be prepared. Send me your bib # so I can track ya this saturday,

I'll be having some nice eggplant parmesan for ya tonight. My sister is a vegan and gives me all sorts of recipes.

Fishmagic said...

I like your take on Houston, but I've never been there. I did, however, pass by in the mid 80s on my way to Galveston.

I like your plan, and its simplicity.

Laurel said...

Houston sounds great!

Looks like you have a pretty good plan going in for Boston. Great job on the workouts/mileage this week. Keep it up!