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06 March 2012 @ 06:34 pm
Sometimes dreams come true by accident. Sometimes good things fall in our laps. Sometimes horrible things are thrust upon us. And sometimes you just have to work your ass off harder than you ever thought you could, enjoy the process, not dwell on things, and reap the rewards. This is a story of the latter.

I have been a runner since I took my first step on a treadmill with the intent of it being a training run. I had run for health before but the pinnacle had been 3 miles in 24 minutes on a treadmill. I was 19. I put on 20 pounds of bulk that summer. That bulk turned to fat supplemented by beer my senior year of college. The point is, at age 23 I started considering myself a runner.

Fast forward, 4-5ks, 1-4 miler, 1-8k, 2-10ks, 1-15k, 5 half marathons, 1-25k, 4 marathons, and 1-50k later and I am here now. I’m writing this as if it’s a closing piece, as if I’m done running. Rather it’s my stepping out piece. It’s my piece that says I’ve always been a runner but now I’m a competitor and I will always run.

I remember watching youtube videos of a PBS special on the Boston Marathon as motivation for my first marathon in 2008. It was a great series and combined with the fact that it was uncool to be an environmental engineering grad student and have cable tv, it served that purpose as well. I thought to myself, “I am in love with this sport for so many reasons and someday, if I work hard enough, maybe I can do that too.” My first marathon later that year was 5:26:23.

I kept up with it. I thought I wouldn’t run another one for a very long time but wasn’t so turned off by the idea of distance running and registered for a half 3 months away from the full with the hopes of breaking 2 hours. I ran 1:59:09. I struggled with various injuries, stress fractures, and finding the right type of shoes for me. A year or so went by with no major progressions but I did run a half with my mother in 3:00:01. I had never been more proud to be a son.

In 2010 I started my first teaching job. The stress alone was enough to make me run harder and I became more consistent and ran a half in 1:42:24. I had no idea I had that in me and it sparked a surge. Could I run the same race one year later in 1:30? I had once said I didn’t want to run another full until I run a half in 1:30. I signed up for the Austin full. I had one of the highest mileage months I’d ever run with 180 miles or so. I got sick the week of the race but toughed it out and ran a 4:40. I was happy with a 46 minute pr but knew I had done more work than a 4:40 and I should easily be a sub 4 marathoner.

I rested up, got a coach, and started over. I signed up for the Rock and Roll Seattle Marathon. I did my workouts. I followed my plan. I got fit. I was still only running 5 days a week and maxed at 50 miles. I followed my race plan and ran a 3:37. 1 hour and 3 minute PR. I felt great. I couldn’t believe I had done something like that. I kept training through the summer and increased my daily mileage plus started taking rest days less frequently. I signed up for a series of races that would lead up to the half in the fall. I got faster. I learned how to race. I started winning age groups. I knew what it felt like to be in pain. I knew what it felt like to go out hard and sustain until I fell apart. I learned what it felt like to have a race and FEEL the improvements. The pace for my first 5k in July became my pace for the 8k. The new 8k pace then became my 10k pace, then my 10k pace became my 15k pace. It all lead up perfectly to the half in November and I ran a 1:27:17. I ran my heart out the last 5k and felt exhausted and wonderful. To think that I would continue working and run a 1:27:39 as a training run on a MUCH more difficult course 3 months later. I put in work. I ran 22 miles on a treadmill on cold, windy, wet morning. I ran 3x3 mile tempo runs. I did 12 x 400. 8x800, 6x 1000, 4 x mile. I scheduled appointments with sports masseuses. I did all this in preparation for the RnR New Orleans marathon. I could not have done it alone. I found a wonderful group, fantastic training partner Cynthia, and a coach that cares and is experienced, plus a girlfriend that tolerates and understands my obsession. In the end, after all my ramblings, that was the difference. Those people, they made me a better runner. They brought out the best in me and believed in me. They are my inspiration. The community makes me better. I make me better.
06 March 2012 @ 06:27 pm
I’d much rather fly to NOLA than drive and that’s why I am lucky to have a runner mom that enables me. We flew in Friday night and went to the expo first thing in the morning. I did a swamp tour the day before the race and man it was awesome. We only saw a few gators but I didn’t even care. I just loved being on a high speed air boat and checking out the swamp. Our guide took out a baby gator and we all got to hold it. I had no idea they felt so awesome. I probably will never own any gator skin stuff but I can see why people do. It’s such a cool texture.

We walked around the French Quarter a bit too much for my liking but in the end a distraction probably works better sitting on your butt all day. My mom and Steph came with me and I really enjoyed time with my ladies. We were on our way home from the restaurant when we saw a guy laying across the sidewalk. It could be another drunk on Bourbon Street but he was wearing nice Justin boots and starched jeans. Stephanie felt obligated to check on them considering she’ll soon be a medical professional. Our least favorite type of person is the frat douche. The type of guy that wears golfing gear on a day when he hasn’t been golfing. The kind that the network and connect their way to positions of power while being of low moral character and drink scotch after work from a drawer in their desk. These guys started harassing Steph and saying “YOU’RE OBVIOUSLY NOT FROM NOLA!” They’re just as much tourists as us. Steph yelled some obscenities at them and called an ambulance. We left when it got there and figured the guy would respond to them. I like that my partner is a badass. We got to bed and that was it. I had every dream in the world that night and tossed a bit. I look forward to the day when races like this don’t make me nervous anymore.
I woke up at 5:15, drank some coffee, ate some bananas and a protein bar, drank my UCAN and headed out to meet my running partner. We got to the start line in perfect time to warm up a bit, use the john, and toe the line. I toed the starting line last Sunday feeling so happy to be alive. I’m a happy runner. Look at any of my running pictures and I smile ear to ear. I love it. I love being outside. I love being with people. I love being alone. I love feeling sick. I love feeling great. It all culminates into a sport and pastime that fits me perfectly.

Mile 7

The race started out as well as you can hope: good weather, no particular worries. As far as I can tell there are 3 types of marathon races. The one where you feel off and nothing goes your way and you have the worst day of your life. The one where you have no idea what’s coming and you run yourself into a pr and amaze yourself question where the ability came from. And lastly, the one that you can’t complain about where it’s not easy and you earn your time. I could tell the last option was going to be my day. I didn’t feel amazing but I didn’t feel bad either. We were hitting out splits plus or minus 10 seconds and felt fine. We were on top of our hydration and our nutrition. Generation UCan is the best product I’ve ever used. Two pouches pre race and a pouch during the race meant no gels needed. We took a bit of water at every stop and powered through. Our coach was at a few spots to cheer us on. Cyn’s husband was there to snap some pictures and yell at us that we looked great. We were hitting 6:45s until about mile 18.
The course was one of those that are great for checking out the competition. It was a combo out and back/lollipop type course. We could spot the lead females and they didn’t look all that strong. I wanted to catch them for Cyn but we started to falter a bit outselves but not by much. One can hardly be disappointed with their watch spot checks and realize they’re running 6:50s at mile 19. But those 6:50s turned to 7:00s, those 7:00s turned to 7:10s and 7:15s. I tried to keep pace and get Cynthia to the next female but we couldn’t. We were spent. We didn’t have a kick. We could only hold on for dear life and hope that we could get to the finish line in one piece. It sounds dramatic but at the time I never felt worse ever. I had nothing left. I remember running my first marathon and watching the fast guys come back in from going out and hoped to be them someday. People were yelling us that we looked great and to keep going. It helped but it didn’t make me faster. My mom was at mile 24 and asked if I needed anything but I didn’t have time. title or description

I had to keep going. The goal quickly changed from 2:53 to get Cyn to the next girl to sub-3 to please God don’t let me die. I was still holding on to 7:15-7:20s but was starting to wonder if I’d get the sub-3. My coach was at 26 and yelled “PAT YOU GOTTA GO!” I picked it up as much as I could which was probably 6:45s and then I saw Steph. I didn’t hear her yell anything but she was videoing and jumping at me and I tried with all my might to kick. I saw the clock ticking second by second towards 3:00:00. I crossed. I had no idea what my time was. I stopped my watch after two steps and it said 3:00:02. It could go either way. I had no idea. All I knew was that Cyn definitely didn’t break 3. She had dropped about 100m behind me in the last 2 miles. I immediately felt for her and knew her quest to break 3 was much longer and more deserved than me. We grabbed the medals, took our picture, Gatorade, the usual. By the time we got to the end of the chute Steph was waiting and smiling at me. I just kind of leaned against her a bit and she said “YOU BROKE 3!” I didn’t know if she knew for sure but runner tracking had already texted her that I ran 2:59:58. I did it. I couldn’t believe it. Steph had been there since the leaders had run by and she counted Cyn as 5th woman overall. That made Cyn change her perspective on the race completely. She had never been top 5 at a race that large and it was an 8 minute PR. For me, 37 minutes.

done and not feeling horrible anymore

Our coach and families met up with us and we took our pictures and sat around. It’s funny how perspective change so much. This was a major goal for a life. I told a student last year that I was giving myself 10 years to qualify for Boston. I didn’t think it was possible any time soon. It’s done now. I can run Boston. But it doesn’t feel how I thought it would feel. Now that I’ve done it and had even more promising races, my focus is different. I qualified for Boston in my first attempt. I don’t want to just run Boston. I want to run a 2:30. I want to win a race. I want to run Leadville. I want to run races all over the world. I want to always have fun. This is just the start.
11 February 2012 @ 11:16 am
WHEW!!!! AWESOME RACE. I showed up at 7:20 for an 8 am start right at the same time as my friend Megan. We did a 1.5 mile warmup together around the parking lot and chatted it up. It's great to have good friends to make the time go by. I stopped after 1.5 to change shoes and get race ready. I slipped on my T7s, dropped off my bag, did 5 or so strides and I was ready to go.

One guy seemed speedy and we talked before the race. It's so weird now to be spotted as "oh that's probably a fast guy." Dan seemed really cool and we toed the line. I am patient and I have no problem letting faster guys go. The start was the most awkward start ever. "on your mark" - followed by a siren noise. I stood there for a second because I didn't realize that was the gun. We took off and about 25 people dashed in front of me. The plan was to start at 6 and go down from there. I stuck to it and average 6:05 for the first mile which included a solid uphill. The course was bizarre as well but I loved it. We did one loop around the parking lot, down a road, up a big hill, then onto what looked like a private residence driveway. I knew the course was part cross country but I figured that meant a dirt road section or something across a field. It was a true cross country portion. We did probably 0.25 - 0.5 miles on a slightly muddy, root filled dirt path around a man made lake. It was awesome though and I passed tons of guys along the way. 2nd mile was 5:54. As soon as we came back to a road I came level with the 2nd place guy who was running well. It was time to drop the pace a bit and I could tell he couldn't keep up so I surged and picked it up big time as we went down the hill that we had just gone up. The rest of the course wasn't anything special but VERY well organized and managed. 3rd mile was 5:35 thanks to the downhill. I ran onto the fair grounds, through the parking lot, picking it up along the way. The finish line was probably 80 m after a blind turn so I didn't really have time to respond and kick but I did see the clock and knew if I picked it up just a little I'd break 23 and that's exactly what happened. The last mile was flat and had good turns hence the last mile in 5:25. I came in second 1:09 behind Dan. I won two box seats to any night besides the finals of the San Antonio rodeo which is super awesome plus a silver medal in the shape of a horse shoe. I'm gonna go watch some bronco bustin fo sho!
19 January 2012 @ 06:54 pm
This past Sunday I ran in my first ultra and the longest run of my life. I have wanted to do this since I first learned about them and since I first became a runner. This run was meant to be more of a training run and a life experience than something serious. I love this approach. I ran 18 miles last Sunday as my long run and it was the furthest I have run since last June. I have, however, put in the best quality training I could for the past 8 months. I've had lots of quality workouts, long runs, and consistent recovery runs. I couldn't do much else than what I've done and I am only at the tip of my abilities. It's a great feeling.

Pre Race

Big Bend is a national park about 6 hours from my home. I left Friday and met my mom a few hours down the road so she could join me in the festivities. We were meeting my "in-laws" at the park to stay in their camper. Stephanie ended up having to work and couldn't come so it would just be the four of us. The drive out there is gorgeous but it got dark about the point that I had never been so I had no idea what we were driving into. Saturday morning the low was 22 degrees and I realized I had only packed my racing shorts. I had enough for upper body warmth but was concerned that I'd freeze the first half of the race. It all ended up being fine and warmed up for race day but I definitely panicked there for a second.

At some point while hanging out before race day Steve (steph's dad) said something like "Why are you nervous? It's not like you could win." I told him there was a chance, it just depends on who shows up that day. That's one of the things I love about this sport. You can only run your race, that day, and check your watch when you finish. If someone finished before you, oh well. He asked what time I could run a mile in, "like if you just did one? about 7 minutes?" "more like 5" *look of sheer terror*. One of the reasons I invited them was because they aren't really part of my sport world and I'd like them to be. Steve cooked chicken parmesan with pasta and it was delicious. I ate so much and I didn't feel bad about it. I had 3 cinnamon rolls for dessert. Best. meal. ever. I got to bed early and set my alarm for 5:30 so I could be at the shuttle buses by 6:30.

Race Day
I had my traditional breakfast of cereal, bananas, coffee, and a bottle of vitargo gener8. I love that stuff for carb loading. Steve and my mom woke up to have coffee with me and send me off. On the shuttles I sat next to two guys about my age. We joked about bears attacking us for our honey stingers and about how our shuttle driver looks like a bear. We then decided there should be an ultra marathon that involved your handheld hydration bottles being replaced as a game of Edward 40hands. Best delusional pre-race idea ever.

We got to the start line, about 10 miles from the camp site. The course was a winding, net downhill course on offroad trails. The "trails" are really just rocky 4x4 roads for park rangers. I have no idea how people could actually drive parts of them. The course is point to point and ends about 15 miles from the campsite. It's basically impossible to have spectators but there were aid stations every 5 miles or so.

The first 3 miles were uphill. We gained 500 feet or so in the first 3 miles and the next 10 miles were all net downhill and awesome. We were running towards the Rio Grande so combined with the initial gain, we had plenty of height to lose. The first 3 miles took 30 minutes and I didn't mind. I was conversating and jogging it out and taking in the beautiful sunrise.

The next 10 miles I slowly picked it up. Started at mile 6 all miles were under 9:00. I met up with a girl about mile 8 and we fell perfectly in stride. Monica is from Pittsburgh and came all the way to Texas just for the race. Crazy! Mile 17 was a 7:47 mile and I was feeling great. About that time there was a shortish out and back where we could see everyone who was in front of us. I was about 13th place and Monica was 2nd female and looked WAY stronger than the lead woman. It only took another mile or so to catch the lead female and my focus turned to keeping pace for her all the way to the finish. I was doing a good job hydrating and eating. I ate something every 1/2 hour and probably had 4 handhelds. As we plugged along around 7:45-8:15 pace we passed man after man. One aid station had us in 5th and 6th place. Our 24th mile was 7:35 and we were starting to feel it. We got the marathon mark at 3:42 which is only 5 minutes slower my PR.

At the last aid station I saw a guy limping and felt bad for him. IT issues made him pull out as we pulled into a comfortable 4th and 5th place. Then, it set in.

About mile 28 I realized what I was doing. We slowed down to a 9:30 mile. Cramps were lingering and we had to power hike a few uphill sections to avoid having to stop completely. Still 9:30 on the brink of breaking is pretty awesome. We sped up to a 9:00 and then we could see the finish line. The finish line was visible from a mile away, up on a hill. I was able to pick it back up to 8:00 and get up the hill. I could see the 3rd place guy cresting the hill as I was about 0.25 away and thought, "if only the race was 1 mile further!"
The uphill finish

In the end. 4:26:44. 4th place finish. 8:36 pace for 31 miles. Wow. I could definitely feel it but to be outside in pure beauty. I want to do another. I'll continue marathon training for now but this is more of something up my alley. To enjoy running for pure running, for hours, alone, with people, whatever. We'll see what the future holds. For now, happy trails!

post race exhaustion
04 January 2012 @ 09:30 pm
1. How many miles/km did you run this year?
1670 miles

2. What were your highest/lowest weekly mileage results?
0 miles lowest
71 miles highest

3. What was your best mileage month?

4. What was your longest run?

5. How many races did you enter in 2011? What were your best and worst race performances?
SA half marathon - 1:27:14
Austin Marathon- 4:40
Seattle Marathon 3:37
SA 5k - 18:47
A bunch of other great races

6. Do you have a favorite/memorable run from this year?
SA half marathon was just so awesome. I ran hard and strong for the whole time and launched myself into a new bracket.

7. What was the craziest weather or other type of adverse conditions you endured on a run in 2011?
I ran 12 miles in rain and 45 degrees in Hershey, PA. Lots of hot humid runs in the summer

8. What were your goals for 2011? Did you achieve them?
I got a coach. Best decision ever. I improved ALL my PRs.

9. What are your goals for 2012?
50k finish healthy
lots of miles
new PR for the marathon
be healthy and happy
14 November 2011 @ 07:15 pm
This race was planned as my first major long distance race of the fall. I have been working with a group and coach since April and have seen major improvements but I wanted to get a better picture of my fitness with this race. I've put in almost 1400 miles so far this year and will probably double my distance from last year. Lots of hard work, early morning, hot track workouts, tempo runs, 800-1000m repeats, tune up races- all coming together after months.

My mom got into running a year after I did and it's been awesome to have her support. She didn't want to trek the 25 miles from my house to the starting line at 5:30 and just got a hotel 0.5 miles from the start. Super awesome. We had dinner with friends and family the night before at a pretty good italian place. I'm over the idea of carb loading. I just need a good meal. A good meal I had! We were relaxed and in bed by 10. Race was at 7:30 and I figured a 5:45 wake up call was early enough. I slept great and woke up to a granola bar, banana, and a nice mix of gatorade and vitargo gener8. That stuff is magic. I got dressed and headed down to the start. I had a Brooks Potty Pass and headed down to the start with no worries of where I'd pee. I almost missed the start and had to find my friends at corral 1. We started a few feet from the very front and I got to watch Shalane Flannagan warm up. SO COOL! After jumping around for a bit I felt ready to go.

We took off and my friends and I felt great. First mile went exactly as planned- 6:55. The weather was way less than ideal. It was 60 degrees with 100% humidity. Dew point was 60 degrees too. Lots of hot miles before this prepared me and it was at least cloudy. We made it through the course, keeping each other motivated and chatting a little along the way. I didn't talk much because this was definitely pushing it but I wasn't killing myself. It was all a good sign. 2nd,3rd, and 4th miles were 6:44, 6:42 and 6:42. The 5th mile was mostly uphill and slowed back down to 6:53. This was our plan. Be somewhat conservative until after this hill then slowly drop it down. Miles after this were 6:43, 6:43, 6:39, 6:37. At this point I asked when we should break loose. We thought about going at mile 10 but I started feeling antsy at 9 and wanted to GO. My friend Amanda is the top female at her college and she joined me to as I picked up the pace. We have been running tons of miles together over the summer and it was awesome to share the race with her. We dropped it down to 6:35, then 6:33, then I felt like it was time at the end of the 11th mile to get going and I dropped it down to 6:25. The last mile was 6:03. Brought it in the last .2 and I was done. 1:27:20.

My nipples were bleeding and I felt a little like throwing up but wow. I ran 1:42:24 last year and after so much hard work this is my result. I feel like I broke into the upper echelon of the running community and it feels awesome. I'm just so proud. I am looking forward to putting in lots of miles over the next 2 months, enjoying a beautiful 50k, then laying down a hammer in March for a fast full marathon. I just love seeing the results of working hard. It's encouraging for all aspects of life.

Happy running!
14 August 2011 @ 10:31 am
Great race. I got to McAllister park with about 45 minutes until race start. I grabbed my chip and started my warmup jog back to my car. I only knew two people who were racing today and saw them as during my jog and turned around to join them. It's amazing to have such high level people to run with. Matt is a 2:50 marathoner and improving, Kelli is a 3:10 and improving, and back in his day Gary was a 2:20.

I got in my warm up, strides, leg swings and switched into my new secret weapon. The Brooks T7. I never thought a flat could have such a cushion feel to it. When I put them on I have a sudden kick and it feels great.

I got to the starting line and started checking out the dudes around me. Kelli was the only girl in the front and I noticed the familiar faces from the last run. There is a super stacked field of men in the 40-49 age group. I saw one guy that looked my age wearing an orange bib which meant he was running the 15k. I pegged him as winner from the start. There was a guy about my age standing next to me in a blue singlet. He was taller and thinner than me and I expected him to take off right at the start. One of the beautiful things about running competition is that there is literally only so much you can do. You can lose a race by not planning it correctly but I'm not really at that level. I can only go out at the best pace for me and see what happens. I'm only in competition with myself.

The gun went off and so did we. The front pack of guys took off at low 6s with the guy I pegged as winner easily in the 5:40s. I was quickly by myself with maybe 4 other guys strung out between me and the lead pack.

I was very familiar with the course even though I didn't necessarily know where the turns would be. I used to run all of my long runs here. All alone. 3+ hours by yourself in these shady paths and you learn a lot about yourself. I hit my first mile at 6:30. I was slowly reeling in the guys in front of me. I passed a couple of them and then thought that it was probably the lead pack, then me, then the rest of the field. My friend Matt was for sure running the 8k so I knew I wasn't going to win the race but that I might be the only one in my age group at the front. I just kept pushing, thinking, arms down, chin level, quick feet, GLORY.

Coming up on the 2nd mile I could hear someone breathing behind me. I turned and saw the lead woman for the 8k. I was relieved in a way. I'm a feminist. I don't care if a woman beats me. At least she's not in my division. The pure presence of another person kept me going though. I heard her breathing and could tell I was doing better. Keep pushing!

Mile 3 and 4had a few confusing things. I took almost took a wrong turn at one point and had to curl around. There were lots of 90 degree turns that made it hard to keep a solid pace. M 6:42 and 6:45 were my splits. I was getting a little tired but knew the course problems were one of the major reasons for the greater splits. I knew the last mile was mostly level and downhill so I picked it up. Awkward turns and dodging people hadn't ended as the courses merged back together. I picked up my leg speed and started to really feel winded for the first time. I got to the last corner and realized the finish line was 100m or so away. One of my goals for the race was to be fast but to actually have a kick at the end. I picked it up big time and had a major sprint. It felt awesome. Coming through the finish line I heard them say "Number 3 just came in!" WHAT?! 3rd in the whole race?! Matt finished 1:30 minutes in front of me with an older guy beating him in the last 1.5 miles coming in at 30:36. The lead female finished 18 seconds after me. The next guy in my age group came in a full two minutes behind me.

So there ya go. 3rd place overall. 1st place in the 20-30 age group. 343 runners in total. First time winning my age group. I have been running for 3 years and wasn't an athlete in high school or college. I talked to some guys after the race that asked me my time and responded with "woah!" I said that I love this sport, discovered it relatively recently, and that you don't have to be one of those kids that ran xc in high school or a soccer player to get better at it. Just love the roads/trails/track. Love being outside. And don't be scared to feel sick. That's all you can do.
15 July 2011 @ 11:55 am
goals from 2008 when I started running

Sub 6 min mile. (doable with some more speed training. I'm going to time my mile this weekend sometime I think. I hate sprinting.) Ran a 5:32 yesterday

Sub20 min 5k. (This is done often by avid runners but not so often by just regular runners. That's 3.1 miles at 6 min 27 sec miles) ran a 19:56 in march

Sub 60 min 10k. (This is extremely doable now. I've never done a 10k so I don't know. That's only 6.2 miles at 9 min 40 sec miles.) haven't done one in forever but broke that a while back

sub 2 hr half marathon (It's not too lofty. 13.1 miles at 9 min 9 seconds. I have a half marathon in 12 weeks. My half marathon split time for was 2 hr 26 min) ran a 1:42 in November

sub 5 hr half marathon (considering my first was 5 hr 26 min I hope to break this on my second go round) ran a 4:40 in feb

Ultimately, sub 4 hour marathon (26.2 miles at 9 min 9 sec pace) ran a 3:37 in June

Whatever else comes along the way we'll see. I'm a goal oriented person so I have to set things like this and try to achieve them. Lucky for me I'm never satisfied so that means once I reach all these goals I won't just shrug my shoulders and say "OK! done with running forever!"

New update

All of these are done. I didn't realize it until just now. I'll reevaluate and list some future goals soon.
01 July 2011 @ 03:19 pm
A spontaneous trip worth the stress

At the San Antonio Rock and Roll (my home) my friends texted me to meet them at the Rock and Roll booth at the expo. Within the 5 minutes of me getting there they had signed up for the Seattle Rock and Roll because you get $15 off! The first words out of my mouth were "Well I'm not going." My girlfriend immediately questioned my reasoning and I realized I had no justification for my opposition. A few days later I signed up and was thinking that we were all crazy but enjoyed the spontaneity my friends bring to my life. All my coworkers and acquaintances associate this attribute with me as well but I really just ride the coattails of my GF. I'm a school teacher and I knew my summer would be free but my friends are medical students and they knew they were done before that weekend.

What we didn't realize: They were done on the Friday before the Saturday race. We would miss the expo. We'd fly in at 10 pm, get to the hotel, go to sleep, wake up at 5, get to the race for our packets, and just wing it. The schematics worked out perfect in the end despite the shuttles from the hotel running slow and me missing my start time. But on to the race!

I had a horrible Austin marathon. I was super proud to finish that race but was scared of running another marathon. I ran Austin in 4:40. I decided to start working with a group and a coach. With a custom schedule and weekly track workouts I was really starting to feel strong. I didn't miss a single run and felt sore more often than injured. This was the first time I'd made it a training cycle without feeling like I couldn't do it. I work well with coaches because I'm open minded to turning off my mind and just doing what you say. I can put my faith in the system and just run without complaints. I didn't have a goal for Seattle besides not bonking and just running strong. At my last track workout before the race, my "team" asked what my goal was for the race and I asked my coach "I don't know, what is my time going to be?" He looked at me and cockily said "3:30-3:35". My jaw kind of dropped. I looked at these times as an epic marathon time for me. Something I dreamed about doing but didn't think possible. I just said "ok if you say so". He told me to run perfectly even splits the first 18 and then let it loose. I thought to myself "Isn't a 3:30 for me being let loose the whole time?" Call it lack of confidence but I didn't really if I could do it. I almost couldn't sleep that night because when I thought about crossing the finish line at the suggested time, my heart would race. If coach thinks I can do it, I'll give it a try. If I blow up, I'll at least beat 4:40.

Race morning I woke up at 5:10, ate a protein bar, chugged some accelerade, got ready. Going from Texas to Seattle was a shock. I brought some gloves and ear warmers because I knew it would feel like winter. You could actually see your breath race morning. OMG. We got to the race with few hiccups and my gf reminded me not to freak out and that never helps. Just have fun! Great advice.

I started with corral 13, one corral behind the 3:45 pace group. I had completely missed the 3:30 start but figured I'd just run my race. About mile 3 I saw a woman who knew what she was doing and ran along side her for a while. I'm from the South and VERY friendly with strangers and was worried I'd freak out a random stranger by saying "hi, I like your pace. I'm patrick" I did it anyway and it worked out great. We were holding a low 8:10 or so pace for quite a while and just relaxed through the first miles. We ran together until mile 11 when I kept my pace and she fell behind. I just kept running. I had my handheld of Gener8 Vitargo (I LOVE THIS STUFF) and some gu chomps. I took gu when available and alternated water and sports drink. I just kept hydrated and fueled and kept plugging away at the miles. Half way point came up and I looked at my watch 1:49:54. Wow. Lots of people would love to have that as their half and I felt like I was chilling. Keep it going.

One major lesson I learned from the Austin Marathon was to not push the hills. Just shorten your stride, keep chugging, and get to the top. There were a few major long hills at this race and I just relaxed my way up them. I knew this would cost me time but I would rather finish strong and have that mile split be a 9:00 than blow up and have it be an 8:00. The last 6 miles were mainly downhill with one last uphill part at mile 25. I listened to my coach and as soon as I started on the downhill part at mile 19 I felt great. I looked at my watch and was cruising at 7:40 or so and was passing people left and right. I was getting great encouragement from all sorts of people saying "wow fresh legs man, go for it" etc. I was feeling great and just kept my legs moving down the hill. I was expecting to blow up at some point and it almost happened between mile 24-25. I took a step and my right leg did something weird and I almost fell. It was somewhere between a cramp and just giving out. I just kept my form and tried not to do anything too crazy to do whatever I had just done. At the top of the hill at mile 25 I felt great. I sped down the hill and came in and checked my watch. 3:37:25. That's 1:47:31 last 13.1 miles.

I feel so accomplished and excited. I was never an athlete and my 3 year running anniversary is in two weeks. I love that this sport allows us to figure out who we are, what we are capable of, and to live stronger more fulfilling lives. Keep running. Thumbs up for rock and roll.
26 March 2011 @ 07:15 pm
A good race for motivation and spirit! Breaking 20 minutes for a 5k has been a goal of mine since I started running. I felt like it would qualify me as a front runner in small races and today it all came together.

It was an extremely humid morning but after the Austin marathon a 5k in that feels like nothing. I woke up about 6:15, had coffee with my mom, showed her the Rebecca Black song and had some cereal. We chatted it up while we got ready for the 8:30 start. I drank half a bottle of accelerade on the way to the race, warmed up, and got ready.

Packet pickup was horrible! The race was 4 times bigger this year than last year. A total of 1700 runners today. I knew it was going to be largely middle aged women either with strollers or walking with their friends. The 5k was to benefit a fund that provides grants to my school district and we're in tough economic times. It's possible I might lose my job or get transferred to another school. I'm not TOO worried about it because I feel well taken care of and that my district is doing everything they can to not fire people.

The race got started late and I headed to the front of the group. Eying up the front guys I knew I should be up at the front. There was a lady with a stroller, middle school kids, and walker types right up at the front and I knew I didn't want to swerve around them. Even if I shouldn't start with the front pack I'd rather get passed than get blocked in.

The race gun went off and the pack immediately spread thin. I knew I was one of the top 30 with a few guys way off in the lead going somewhere in the mid 5:00 range. I kept myself disciplined and tried not to get caught up in the handful of high school kids that take off way beyond their limit. Little by little I picked off those kids and ran a few steps behind one of the lead females. I kept up with her for the first two but got left behind somewhere in the 3rd. I felt strong, fast, and was able to hold off vomiting all 3.1 miles! It's kind of a blur when you run all out and really want to slow down but eventually you get to the end.

I finished pretty strong and stopped my watch to see 19:56! YES!! 6:25/mile. I checked the results after finding my fellow school members and mom and saw that I got 2nd in my age group, 13th overall! I felt so cool because I borrowed one of the XC jerseys from my school and felt like a racer!

The absolute best part of the whole thing was that the superintendent handed out the awards. This was the 2nd time this week I've shaken his hand and talked to him. He recognized me and said congrats. Anything to make the superintendent of the 3rd largest school district in Texas to remember you (in a positive light) is great!! My mom got 4th in her age group and finished in 34:00. She felt awesome and it totally justified her 2 hours drive to run 34 minutes. Great day!