Sunday, February 26, 2012

It's Not as Easy as it Looks (5k story)

I'm not talking about running in a 5k. My friends who run marathons and half-marathons would laugh me off the internet for that. I'm talking about running a 5k event. The planning, organization, and staging of the race. I found that out this weekend when I participated in the first ever Upward Bound TRiO Day 5k Run and Walk at Midland College.

The Bad
I'll start with the bitches and complaints.
The course was confusing. Around the MC loop is only 1.1 miles so they needed to add some detours. (I just wrote out a complete path description. Way boring. Let's just say...) It was two loops, two times around the Chap center and once to the I Street entrance gate. Not a problem if you have knowledgeable volunteers directing runners. And there's the problem. Some volunteers pointed the right way, some pointed the wrong way, and some just let the sign hang at their side, pointing to the ground. A bit of misguidance added almost half a mile to my run.
The coarse was not closed as suggested. I kinda figured this from the beginning. When you have students living on campus working jobs off campus, you're going to have some weekend traffic. That and there was a tennis tournament going on.
The age groups seemed odd. 17 and under, 18-35, 35 and up. And gender was not taken into account.
They ran out of tees. Personally, I don't see this as a problem (because I pre-register)
But the biggest problem of all, NO NUMBERS!

The Good
Now that that's out of the way, it did have many benefits.
The entry was only $15, in advanced or on race day.
A live DJ provided pre-race entertainment and energy.
Before the race, runners were guided through stretches and warm ups.
After the race, there were a lot of door prizes and hand outs. Everyone in my group went home with something.
The bronze medal I won had the date and event engraved on the back. This was a nice touch. I had to take a Sharpie to the ones I've won in the past.
And there were about a dozen oranges for each runner after the race.

The Future

All that said, would I participate in this run again? Sure.
This was their first year, so they were bound to be mistakes.
One being, the backs of the tee-shirts were not covered in logos or company names. I'm thinking that's a missed opportunity for extra revenue.
And that's what it's really all about, raising money for a good cause.

First race in my new shoes. (the box is a pedometer door prize I won)
Nike+ GPS put my 5k time at 24:28
And full race time is flipped to 28:24 (that takes into account the extra distance I ran, and the time I stood at the finish table bitching about the extra distance I ran, instead of pushing stop on the timer.)
I'm not sure what time they call out from the stage, I was busy filling up on oranges.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Austin Half-Marathon: Complete

13.1 Miles won and done. To sum up the Austin Marathon in one word: Hilly.

Finishing was surreal to say the least. I can honestly say that running for 2 and a half hours straight is something not easily done but achievable. And I did run the entire time.

Race started at 7am but this being the Austin Marathon and Half-Marathon, I had to be up at 4:15. Waking up that early was not hard due to the combination of nerves and excitement. I ran the half-marathon with my girlfriend, Jen*, along with her roommate Shannon and Shannon's dad. Shannon and her dad were both a little more psychotic than Jen and I and decided to run the full marathon. Ballsy, to say the least.

The race itself was incredibly fun. Starting off at our state capitol was incredibly cool as was being surrounded by so many other runners.

Getting the race started, it was tough to not start sprinting with all the anticipation built up inside of me but the notion that I had 13.1 to run made it a little easier to ease out of the gate.

So many people lined the streets and so many runners were alongside us the entire time that stopping never really crossed my mind. They had really cool signs that read "Run like zombies are chasing you" and "Worst Parade Ever." Bands played alongside the road and people cheered and held up signs. It was all so cool it made me forget the lonely 5K in Monahans where I pretty much ran the entire last mile by myself. The most inspiring sign was along mile 9 which was the Livestrong Mile. One spectator, a cancer survivor, held up a sign that read "You're running this for me." It was really hard to even fathom quitting after seeing that one.

Along the way, legs starting hurting a bit and the race seemed pretty endless but the entire atmosphere and running alongside Jen made it so much more fun and easy.

Even mile 12, which contained the biggest hill of the entire, was scaled and conquered. And seeing the sign that said "only 600 meters to go" was the sweetest thing I saw all day. Well, sweetest next to actually crossing the finish line. Official time was 2:35:05. Not too shabby considering I only started running in November and my longest run up to that point was 5.6 miles. Jen and I stayed together the entire time and finished with the exact same time. I can confidently say that I probably wouldn't have been able to do it without her. She made the hills a lot easier.

Upon finishing, we got our finisher medals, some food, cool swag and then waited for Shannon and her dad to finish up. We met up with other runners and congratulated others who finished.

Shannon and her dad finished up the full marathon together and we couldn't have been more proud of them. Seeing them definitely made me want to try a full marathon at some point soon.

And Lonnie and Brent will be happy to know that I managed to score a post-race beer courtesy of Shannon's mom. A woman, who I have to note, can party harder than most people I know.

Overall, I'm really glad I ran the Austin Half-Marathon. Despite the soreness all over my lower body, I wouldn't hesitate to do it again. Especially with such great company. I can't express how appreciative I am to Jen, my parents, Shannon, her parents, the city of Austin, all the other runners and spectators, and all of my friends who sometimes run with me but are always encouraging.

*One funny note was that Jen awoke at 1:15 thinking it was 4:15 and proceeded to enthusiastically brush her teeth. My immediate response to her jovial brushing was a gruff "What the fuck is wrong with you?"

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Mountain Monster (5k story)

Ran my first race at Big Spring State Park. The official name was Run2Love2Run, a Valentine themed race, including prizes for costumes and top three couples.
It starts at the park headquarters, you run down to the scenic loop, around the loop, and back up to finish at headquarters. It's 3.3 miles, the highest elevation is 2794 feet and the lowest is 2639. So it's no monster of a mountain, but with high winds and the temperature right at 32, the race was still full of challenges.

From the start we run into the wind but quickly make a hairpin right and head downhill. This is great for about three seconds, then I remember, I'll be making this climb at the tail end of the race. The herd spread out and I have some time to enjoy the scenery. There's the big hospital, a water tower, that old hotel, some windmills, looks like a shopping center, and of coarse bushes cacti and rocks. Not bad and not cold.
Mile two is just before the park entrance, the lowest point of the run, it's all uphill from here. By now the cold isn't a problem. I'm quite comfy and warn. When I make the full loop and turn onto the road to headquarters/finish/my car/a place to stop this nonsense, I am burning up. My hands are cooking inside my gloves. My music has stopped. I'm making some sort of animal sounds. And waiting patiently for my return, that last hill. I push my way up with every step fighting the urge to stop, die, or even worse walk. I make the hairpin turn and hear footsteps behind me. Oh no you don't! I have held the same place in this race, with plenty of space ahead of me and plenty behind me, and you're going to creep up on me here at the end and knock me down a position. No! The terror kicks in and I sprint the last 200 feet of the race.

Official result haven't been posted yet. I think I was in the top ten to finish. Nike+ GPS says my 5k time was 25:30 and my race time was 26:58 (that includes the time it takes to remember it's running and hit stop.)

Big Spring is planning five more runs in the park this year, four at night. Bring your own fruit and Gatorade, they only provided water today. But I did get a great long sleeve performance tee and of course, I got my numbers.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pumped Up Kicks

After a 5.6 mile run across Midland, it was glaringly obvious that I needed some new runners. The Shox had done me well (got me the 4.6 miles up to the top of Guadalupe Peak) but they were heavy and, like a grandma's bra, losing support.

I went online to do research and after navigating through the plethora of "Shit So-and-So Says" Videos, facebook statuses, and LOLCats, I discovered the Adidas Zero Rush Shoes.

They looked cool, had good buzz, and being a fan of all things Adidas, they appealed to me. Went to Finish Line and tried them on. Like wearing nothing at all. Super, super light but not at the expense of support. PLUS, I got a free t-shirt out of the deal. In my size, no less (Suck it JINGLE BELL RUN 5K).

These will be the babies I wear when I finish 5K in Big Spring on the 11th and 13.1 miles in Austin on the 19th.

T-Minus 19 days until Austin.