Monday, March 17, 2014

Rock'n'Roll New Orleans Marathon

A while ago now (I've been behind), on Sunday February 2nd, I ran the Rock'n'Roll New Orleans Marathon, finishing in a time of 4:15:01, cutting 20 minutes off of my previous PR from last March. It was a good race and a nice weekend; the weather could have been better, but the course was better than I thought it might be. It was warmer than I would prefer (mid-60s) and very humid, making for a lot of sweat; the roads were almost all asphalt and in great shape, none of the broken pavement or cobblestones I was worried about. My body held up better than I thought it might- other than nearly debilitating leg pain, my feet fared well, no significant blistering, no dead toenails. My biggest concern was that I hurt my foot Friday evening during a short run after driving all day, but that wound up bothering me less than my right Achilles, which has had some flare ups recently. I had plenty of energy and was in good spirits, really it was just the legs that slowed me down. In the end, I would have liked to have gone a little quicker, and had more of a chance to experience New Orleans, but it was a nice visit, and a PR is never a bad thing. Also, I recently decided to try to finish a marathon in every state; this makes 3 states (along with Texas and Kentucky).

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Scale the Strat

Sunday I participated in my first "Scale the Strat" stair race, 1455 stairs up one leg of the Stratosphere tower in Las Vegas. The finish is called the 108th floor, but it is not nearly as high as the 103rd floor of the Willis (Sears) Tower since it is not an occupied building for most of its height (the Stratosphere is a roughly 850 foot climb to Willis's roughly 1350). While this was not the tallest stair race I've done, it was very unique and quite challenging. I can't say I'm entirely satisfied with my 10:48 time, at least it gives me a mark for next time. This race was also the US Stair Racing Championship. I may have finished last in that (I'm not entirely sure, I was 29th American male overall), but it was an honor to have qualified for it by finishing in the top 50 in the US for 2013.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

LLS Big D Climb

Saturday was my first stair race of the year, the 52-story Big D Climb benefiting The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. This event had over 1100 participants (much more than my last Dallas climb), including quite a few uniformed police and fire fighters. There were about a dozen climbers in the "elite" wave (notably Norbert Lechner from Austria), plus some really fast folks among the rest of the field. I may not have had my best race ever, but I was able to finish in the top 10 with a time of 7:51.

Monday, January 20, 2014

3M Half Marathon

Sunday was my fourth straight 3M Half Marathon. While I didn't go as fast as last year, I really had no intention to do so. While my run didn't go exactly according to plan, I did hit my goal time of 1:45. My plan had been to run an even 8-minute mile pace, but I wound up going quicker for the first half than the second, contrary to what I (or certainly my coach) would have liked.

The weather was just about perfect, about 40 degrees, low wind from the north (for a tail wind most of the way). I waited as long as I could to take off my sweatpants and jacket and drop them off. I was a little cold before the start (not nearly as cold as the 30K two weeks prior), but warmed up quickly; I took my cap off about a mile in, my gloves another couple miles after that. At the end my long-sleeve t-shirt was soaked in sweat.

I started pretty close to the 1:45 pacers, but didn't really intend to stick with them. People generally seemed to have seeded themselves appropriately- there weren't too many slower runners to dodge. The adrenaline of a race, especially one with a field this large (5000+), often causes me to start too fast; passing people compounds that effect. I tried hard to rein myself in mentally, and a 7:47 for the first mile seemed reasonable. I'm not sure what caused me to go 7:33 for the second mile, but when I realized it was too fast I tried to throttle back. The next four miles were around 7:50, closer to my target. Mile four actually probably would have been slower except that a fast friend of mine caught me as she was essentially cheering folks on from "the inside." She wasn't going super fast, just a touch quicker than I was looking for; after a brief chat I fell back and she zipped on ahead. Miles 7 through 9 are where I started struggling with the pace. I was feeling my Achilles and was caught between maintaining pace and slowing way down. I never intended for this to be a real race, the main thing was to not hurt myself. A big enough part of my brain wanted to keep a good pace that I kept on. The last four miles was a fight against The Blerch; my pace was 8:10-8:20 but I always felt ready to throw in the towel and walk the rest of the way.

This race may be so large as to be nearly unwieldy, with its long port-o-pottie lines and huge continuous line of runners, but it is an iconic race and I saw numerous friends before, during (running and cheering), and after, notably the announcer calling names at the finish. It is also well-run, which is critical for a point-to-point race, with bag drops and buses back to the start. I just wish I had thought to put a dry t-shirt in my bag; since mine was soaked I took it off and just put on my jacket, but it was a touch warm for the jacket by the time I finished. I was still sweating a little, but at least I wasn't freezing.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Rogue 30K

Sunday I raced in my second 30K, part of the Rogue Distance Festival, which expanded this year to include a half marathon in addition to the 10K and 30K. It was quite a change from last year- the course was quite different, it was earlier in the year, and the weather was about the opposite (cold and windy this time). I went in planning to treat it more as a training run than a race; to that end, even though my time was slower than last year, it felt like a better run. I didn't walk at any point (even though I really wanted to toward the end), and every mile was under 10 minutes. My overall time was 2:45:19, with a split for the first 10K of 55:40. In the "for what it's worth" department, I was 21st in my age group and 154th overall.