Monday, April 9, 2012

600 miles for the year to date

Probably the earliest in the year - ever - that I have reached the 600 mile mark.  This works out at an average of 6 miles for every day of the year to date.  In reality it means quite a few days of around 8 miles per day and several longer runs as well.  The high mileage is starting to pay off with faster times - it has been a while since I was able to maintain a pace of under 7:30 for a 5k+ race.

Looking forward to average pace dropping more with increased weight loss.  New age group is looming - just more than a month away - and I definitely want to be close to sub-7 minute pace by the time the 4th of July race - we always do the Run Wild race at Uptown Park - rolls around. 

Injury update:  the plantar fasciitis is not as bothersome as previously - with regular icing and stretching it is manageable and it hasn't gotten any worse.  I am now using Superfeet inserts in my running shoes; hopefully that will slowly resolve the issue.  It didn't happen overnight, so it will probably take a while to heal.  

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Four the Park Race @ Memorial Park, Houston

Kathy and myself, a bunch of our Striders running friends and about 2,250 other people showed up yesterday morning for the 4th running of the '4 the Park' 4-mile run, capably organized by the Memorial Park Conservancy.  This year, more than ever before, the race proceeds are going to be used to replant Memorial Park where thousands of trees have died due to the 2011 drought.  The record number of participants had a great time - I know Kathleen and I did as we both scored age-group placings, second and third respectively in the 55-59 age group.  Many of the other Striders went home with age-group wins and places as well. 

The race is fast and mostly flat, including a  loop inside Memorial Park forest as well as a long and rather hot and sunny out and back on Memorial Drive itself.  If I had any criticism I would say the race could have been started at least one hour earlier.  When we first got to the Park at 7:00A running conditions were near perfect.  By 8:30A - not so much. 

As previously the Conservancy came up with a nicely designed race shirt, this time a dark blue technical t-shirt.  The post running party lived up to its reputation as being one of the best in Houston.  Runners had their choice of a bunch of food and drink options including the following:

  • Middle Sister wines
  • Michelob Ultra Lite beer
  • Creative Crepes
  • Firkin & Phoenix banana and strawberry crepes
  • Lemon and chocolate Bundt Cakes
  • Izkali Tequila 
  • El Rey Restaurant breakfast tacos
And many more!

Not to mention a lively 4-piece band on a huge stage!  

I was hoping to end in the top 5 runners in my age category and did slightly better than that with a third place finish at 29:55, about 7:28 pace.  After a relatively easy start I was a little over a mile into the race before my heart rate settled down at around 155 bpm.  By then we were hammering it along Memorial Drive in the east bound lanes.  Once we turned around at Crestwood, I started getting fatigued and the heart rate reflected it, increasing to around 160 and briefly reaching 166.  Maintaining around 160 bpm but slowing somewhat over the second half, I hung on to third in my age group, finishing just 2 seconds ahead of a competitor.  With some additional weight loss I should be able to get my mile pace down to under 7:00 for a race of this distance, so watch this spot!

My 'No S' Diet*** is going well; no further weight loss so far this week but easy to see why: I have more than halved my weekly running mileage, so burning hundreds of calories less on a daily basis.  Ergo no weight loss.  Yesterday (Saturday) was a bit of a blow-out; following on the Run 4 the Park I ate quite a lot of junk and indulged in a variety of beverages, both alcoholic and not.  Later in the day Kath and I went to The Counter, a custom hamburger joint in The Heights, where we each had half a veggie burger - they were massive! - as well as some onion rings and stringy fries.  We celebrated our running success with some delicious vegan chocolate cake.  I took full advantage of the 'S' day sweet allowance and snacking privileges!

***No snacks, no sweets, no seconds, except on Days starting with 'S' (Saturday, Sundays and Special Days such as birthdays & holidays).  No exceptions.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

2012 Texas Independence Relay

I had absolutely the best time on the Texas Independence Relay with Steve Shepard’s Westside Occasionals lats weekend. Met some interesting new people, got to know some others better and re-learnt lessons about the volatile mix of speed, distance – and heat. Amazed and delighted by all the young people – women in particular – participating in this grueling event.
The organization/logistics were flawless and the vehicles - a couple of sleek and powerful Suburbans - were fantastic! The real luxury was being able to spend some time resting up at the Shepards' home on Saturday night - it made a huge difference for me personally compared with my previous experience.  I actually had something left for the first 4-mile run on Sunday morning - which turned out to be the best one of the lot, notching no less than 12 'road kills', i.e. catching up to other runners who presumably started before we did.  Nobody passed me on that leg either!
Every member of our time was affected by the unseasonably warm weather: by mid-afternoon on Saturday the temperatures were in the mid 80's Fahrenheit!  Combine that with some nasty hills and you get a very unfriendly running environment. Even so we did very well, finishing in about 27 hrs and 40 minutes, well ahead of our competition in the 'Mixed Veterans' category.
I really enjoyed meeting several new people including Elias, Larry, Rob and Cyndie and Marie, and getting together with some other members of the team whom I had run with previously.  It was particularly good to get to know David Rushing a bit better - what a nice guy; he even finished my last 3-mile run - which was a killer as my legs were shot - with me.
It would be great to go for the Mixed Veteran team record next year, hopefully when weather conditions are a bit more favorable!  

Some pics to follow.