Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Play Hard

This weekend my company sponsored a "work hard, play hard" weekend, where they paid the entry fees for any employee interested in participating in four events- a bike ride, charity run or volleyball tournament on Saturday and a marathon relay on Sunday. When I first heard about it, I thought I would just do the Liberty Hill Lions Club Rip Roarin' Ride on Saturday, then I thought I would just do the Silicon Labs Austin Marathon Relay on Sunday. When I found out the company would give us a t-shirt for each event, I figured "what the heck?" and signed up for both. I didn't do much of anything specifically to prepare for the events- after I got home from my road trip, I did a 30-mile ride on the veloway on Sunday, and 5K runs on Monday and Wednesday in the gym. The runs actually didn't go that well- both days I started getting a cramp on my right side around my rib cage.

I woke up just past 5 on Saturday morning, even though I hadn't intended to get up quite that early (I had planned for closer to 6). I had breakfast, made sure I had everything I thought I needed, and headed out about 6. It took me about 45 minutes to get to Liberty Hill High School, slightly less than Google maps predicted thanks to almost zero traffic. It was still dark when I got there, picked up my packet, and started getting ready for the ride. I had a bunch of time to kill before the 8am start, most of which I spent riding through the parking lot and chatting with co-workers as they arrived and got ready. We all gathered at 7:45 for a group photo before heading over to the staging area. The turnout was really good- about 15 people, but most people were doing more (103) or fewer (14 or 28) miles than I was planning- 50. I chose 50 miles because it's more than I've ever done, but not that much more than my usual ~30 miles. The first few miles of the ride were pretty chaotic, with the initial solid clump slowly breaking apart into smaller groups as people faded back from the leaders. I kept passing bikes as I kept the leaders (or at least what I thought might be the leaders) in sight for the first 10 miles, then I fell off of their pace and never saw them again. Shortly after that point, though, the "full" 103-mile course diverged from the shorter distance routes. Somewhere around that diversion point, a co-worker caught up to me and we rode together for a while. My impression was that he was less tired than I was and had been going at a faster pace at that point. I think that after we met up, we rode at a pace somewhere in between our paces before meeting- like he slowed down to ride with me, while pushing me to ride a little faster. We stopped for some snacks and water at rest stop #3, about 24 miles in. He left the station a couple of minutes before I did, and I never saw him again. I later heard that because he was feeling good, he decided to do the 65-mile course instead of the 50. I stuck with the 50-miler, which turned away from the longer courses just past the rest stop. I didn't see many bikes for most of the way back from there until I stopped at rest stop #2, which for me was about 36 miles into the ride. I was ready for another break at that point, after a long, relatively steep, uphill around the 32-mile mark that had me cursing in pain. I got back to the high school around 11 and cooled off and got plenty of food and drinks. Most of my co-workers (at least those not doing the full course) had already left, but one who had done the 28-mile course with his son was still around, so we chatted a bit. I really enjoyed the ride, and thought it was well organized. Since it was my first time doing an organized ride like this, I can't really compare it to anything, but I would definitely like to do more in the future. It was a really nice ride on back roads (some of which could really use some repairs) through pretty country with little automobile traffic, and the weather was just about perfect.

On my way home, I was planning on stopping at a pizza place I like, but found it was closed, so I went to a BBQ place instead. I relaxed and watched Texas get walloped all afternoon, but didn't fall asleep. At the end of the third quarter, when I was pretty sure they were going to lose, I went downtown for a Yuen Woo Ping double feature at the Paramount I had scored free tickets to. As part of Fantastic Fest, they were showing Yuen's latest and very first kung fu movies he directed, as well as introductions and a Q&A with the master himself. As an extra treat, The RZA presented Yuen with a lifetime achievement award in the form of a sword. The Alamo Drafthouse had sent out an email that they had some free passes available, first come first served, so I figured why not give it a shot. I won the draw and even though I hadn't asked for one, they gave me a +1 as well, which I offered to a co-worker and he joined me for the screening. The new movie, True Legend was pretty awesome. Hardly anything groundbreaking in terms of kung fu movies, it certainly did feature Yuen's world-renowned fight sequences. The movie was kind of 2/3 revenge story and the last 1/3 was sort of a Drunken Master origin story. I think I would have preferred a little less CGI, but it was a fun, pretty good movie overall. I stayed for the Q&A after the film and the introduction to the second movie, but split as soon as that started in order to get home and get some sleep. It seemed like most people did the same, but they may have just been using the restroom since there wasn't a real intermission between shows.

I woke up around 6 on Sunday, even though I didn't really have to get to the race until much later. I parked in the Silicon Labs garage, then walked across the river to the start/finish area. I found my co-workers about 7, just in time to wish the lead-off 12K runners luck before the 7:15 start. I sat and read the paper for a while as more of the runners from our 5 relay teams arrived. I watched the start/finish as some of the better runners finished their 12K and handed off to the first 10K runner, and hung out there until our #1 runner came across at 52 minutes (even more impressive, it was the same guy I was riding with on Saturday who rode 65 miles). I hung around with my co-workers who were finishing or getting ready for their runs until closer to 10 when I started getting ready for my run. The blood really started to pump around 10:20, when the third runner on my team (the second 10K leg) came in and handed off to the first 5K runner and I had 20-30 minutes before running my "anchor" 5K leg. I was pretty amped up when my lead-in came across around 10:50. I grabbed the "baton" (a jelly bracelet with the timing chip attached) and started sprinting away. I knew I couldn't keep that pace for even a quarter mile, let alone ~3.1, so I had to calm myself down to a more normal pace and heart rate. Whereas I usually try to keep my heart rate somewhere around 160-165 on the treadmill, I was okay with it being closer to 175 on this run. The course started out pretty flat- west on Riverside to Lee Barton, then back east to South First. The road climbed a bit to the bridge over Lady Bird Lake, then was flat to Cesar Chavez and the first water station. The drink re-energized me a bit, even though I was still feeling pretty good. The course continued west on Chavez, which has some minor elevation changes, to the turnaround point past Lamar. As the course returned to South First, I knew I had enough energy left that I could pick up the pace a little. Aided by gravity a bit at first, coming down the slight hill from the bridge, I picked up my pace to the last turn onto Riverside. With the finish line in sight, I went to a full sprint and crossed the line with a double fist pump, which hopefully made for a good picture (I haven't seen any pics yet). My watch messed up along the route about 12 minutes in and reset itself, so I didn't have a very good idea of my time. I felt really good about the run- I probably passed more people than passed me, and I kept a solid pace the whole way. When the times were posted online later, there was some sort of glitch in my team's time. If I interpret the glitch properly, the third and fourth leg times were combined, and my 5K time was 30:50. I was hoping for a little better than that, but I could believe that time. I think my team finished second of the company's five teams, about 55 minutes behind the #1 team, which finished second in the corporate division.

After some food and drink, I walked back to my car and went to get that pizza I had been craving. I took a nice hour-plus nap in the afternoon, then went out and had a delicious steak for dinner.

1 comment:

Steve Doherty said...

Thanks for the details. Congratulations!