Oh, to have been a runner

I was playing around in Google Earth tonight and decided to look up some old places where I used to live in the town of Odessa, Texas. It really is a lovely place, though the pictures that Google has were apparently taken in the winter. Looks pretty barren. It only looks like that 10 months out of the year.Old running grounds

Click the picture to get a full size view of one of my homes. Those spider web lines are dirt roads leading through the oil fields. We had full reign out there. Some of my best memories from high school happened out there in the oil patch. We carried guns and rifles to shoot snakes and anything else that we fancied. The closest neighbor was about a mile away. We trekked all through those roads. Funny we did not do bicycles. Either we were out in a car, truck, motorcycle or, mostly, just walking around.

From our driveway I could have “run around the block” and been able to do a 6 mile loop while only setting foot on 2 paved roads. Those trails would have been great places to run. And I do remember running them, but not for endurance training. We ran them when we were running from some animal usually.

Of course, I would have never been out there on a training run without a hand gun. I saw some of the biggest rattlers in my life out there. That was a good reason to wear thick boots most of the time. I am not sure what the boots would do for my running pace.

Back in the routine

Today I went back to my exercise class. I have been out of it for a couple of months while training for my half marathon. Looking back on it now, I think I should have continued to go one day a week. It would have meant doing some kind of hard exercise 5-6 days a week, but I think it would have helped me keep my core strength up. By the end of all the running I felt a bit under toned/developed. I tried to keep up a weight lifting routine to supplement the running, but I just was not disciplined enough.

I remember saying this same thing last year. That is why I worked harder at the weights this time around. But, alas, I still did not keep it up like I should have. I just hope I don’t end up as sore as I did last year.

Empty handed

Remember about a year ago I mentioned that I was going to quit my day job and play chess full time? That was because I had won $250 (pesos) in a tournament. I was reminded of that this week because we just played that tournament again. Tonight was the awards ceremony for it.

I did not win anything. In fact, besides byes and forfeits, I have not won a single game in a tournament since last year.

My son’s chess club tied for 3rd place in the team competition. He won 2.5 (out of 6) games in that tournament, but it did not get him any prizes this year either. We walked away empty handed. But, we still enjoy the game.

He actually played 2 tournaments this last week. In the second one he won 3.5 games out of a possible 5. That was not quite good enough to place in his division, but he did really well in the tournament.


2 hours, 16 minutes and 28 seconds was my time for the second annual Phedippidations World Wide Half Marathon! That is 32 seconds faster than my goal and more than 12 minutes faster than my previous 1/2 marathon record (PR). I am very pleased with the time and the results of the run.

I did the run in 4 loops in the streets around my house. I started with a 5 mile loop in which I tried to drink the 1.3 liters in my CamelBak (I did not succeed). The second loop of (almost) a mile was run while my wife was refilling the canteen. Loop three consisted of a 4 mile run with the refilled CamelBak. The final loop was the last 3.22 miles sans canteen to finish it off.

Knowing that I probably would not sleep well the night before the run, I had been getting extra hours of sleep all week long. This was helped by the fact that I was sick early in the week. In one 24 hour period I slept 13 hours. Normally I sleep 6.5 to 7.5 a day (including nap). Last night, true to form, I slept horribly and ended up getting up at 3:00 in the morning to eat a little bit and get the digestive juices working.

I went back to bed around 4 and was up again at 6:15. I had been concentrating on hydration the last few days and ended up drinking about 2.5 liters of water and Gatorade before I took off. I made a pacing chart for my wife so she would know when (within a couple of minutes) I would be home from each loop. That way she could just grab the CamelBak from me and I would not have to stop.

Goal pace throughout was to be 10:27 per mile.

Loop 1: 5 Miles
The first mile was way too fast, but that was to be expected. I finished it in 9:31. During that mile there were two dogs that jumped over a fence and chased me for about a half block. I was hoping that it was not a bad omen. It didn’t seem to be.

  • 9:31
  • 10:25
  • 10:36
  • 10:20
  • 10:06

Loop 2: 1 Mile
This was not really 1 mile in length. It is was .81 miles long. But by doing it this way, I was able to keep all my other loops at known exact distances. The final result was that I ran 13.1 and I knew exactly where each mile split fell.

  • 9:23

Loop 3: 4 miles
Just before I hit the first mile in this loop a car pulled up beside me and asked for directions. I know I should have just told the guy that I didn’t know where the place was that he was looking for, but I did know. I took the time (while still running) to give him detailed directions. Because of taking the time with him, I missed my mile marker by a little bit. I was probably right on pace since that mile was 10:34. The irritating thing is that he drove up 2 blocks and asked someone else for directions too.

PLEASE PEOPLE: Do not ask a runner for directions. If the person is training or racing, he is likely to be angry and tell you something incorrect just to spite you.

During that first mile I also ate (slurped? swallowed? drank?) a gel pack.

I felt really good in this loop and knew that I was probably going to hit my goal. Especially after the result of the last 2 miles.

  • 10:34
  • 10:35
  • 10:08
  • 10:01

Loop 4: 3.22 miles
The first mile was slowed a bit due to dropping off the CamelBak and having to cross a 6 lane road. I worked hard to make it a fast mile. I was a bit disappointed to see the time of 10:32, 5 seconds slower than my goal pace. I also tried too hard that mile and ended up with a side stitch. I walked for just over a minute between that mile and the next. I got things back together for a 3rd mile of 10:18 and the final .22 was at a pace of 9:10!

  • 10:32
  • 11:22
  • 10:18
  • 2:01

Goal pace: 10:27. Actual pace: 10:25 throughout run.

Post Race
I felt much better than I previously had in my 1/2 marathon runs. After my first one I really felt like I had just accomplished the hardest physical event in my life (which I had). The second one was a bit disappointing since I did not stick with my plan. I ended up running well for the first part, but crashed terribly at the end. Emotionally I felt like I had wasted 3 months of training. Today, however, I feel like I benefited from my training and did the best I could do. And I don’t feel like I have been hit by a freight train. As soon as the race was over I had to be out the door and put on a pretty face for a public event for the next 7 hours. I was able to accomplish that, but am now totally depleted.

Here are some of the things I think contributed to my success today. In no particular order.

  • Plenty of rest
  • Speed work and generally being able to accomplish my training goals
  • Sufficient hydration
  • Much better fueling than previous half marathons

Weather was a nice factor too. Not that it is something that can be controlled, but I am sure it helped. It was 73 degrees when I started (one of the coolest morning temperatures I will see here). When I finished the race it was 82.

I ate well this week. I ate some junk, but in general I just tried to eat a lot of food. I weighed 8 lbs more this morning than I weighed last Saturday! Some of this is due to hydration and eating in the middle of the night. I wanted to do this race at a bit lighter than last year, but I found myself feeling lethargic the last couple of weeks. I put on the extra weight with fruits, nuts and whole grains (and a bit of ice-cream). I think they are good pounds and helped fuel my run. I will work to get that weight off within the next couple of weeks. I was still 2 pounds lighter than last year and 11 pounds lighter than my half marathon PR.

While I was out and about this afternoon with our church, I ran into a couple of team mates from my football team. Though we have not been practicing, they told me about a scrimmage game we had this evening. As much as I would have liked to go and play, I don’t even have the energy to drive across town and watch them do the work. Maybe next week.

Last run til Saturday

Yesterday morning I made my final run getting ready for my half marathon this weekend. I had run 12 miles last Saturday and then was supposed to run 4 miles on Monday and Tuesday. I ran about 2.5 on Monday and 4 on Tuesday. My schedule calls for no more running until the 13.1 mile distance this coming Saturday.

Right now I have a goal of 2:17 (hours:minutes). Last year I ran it in 2:39 and the half I ran previous to that was 2:29. I felt great and invincible last year and therefore did not take in any food while on my run. That came back to kill me in the final 4 miles of the race. I will stick to my fueling plan much more closely this time, no matter how good I feel.

My training has gone very well this year. Early on I was able to get in some good speed work and long tempo runs. The last couple of weeks have not gone as well, but I have still been getting the mileage in that I need from week to week, and I did not have to cut any long runs short this year. I plan on getting plenty of rest over the next couple of days.

This is the first time to run this distance with an actual time goal. In my first half marathon my only goal was to finish. The second time I just planned to beat the previous attempt (which I failed at). This time I have a specific time and pace planned. I will watch my mile splits and see if  I can run a consistent 10:27 per mile. I often start off much faster and finish slower.