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.


Amy said...

Well, if it was an S day, then it was okay! Brilliant!

Julia said...

they changed the course after all this time? an out and back on Memorial Drive?

its a great race and the post race is awesome but after 3 years of doing it, i said no more due to the late start. they wont change it because its to be 'family friendly' and 8:30 is a more 'respectable' time I suppose