Monday, February 25, 2013

Rodeo Run 10K Recap

The Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo has officially started in Houston, TX. Even though the concerts and rodeo part actually starts today, the weekend was crammed with events. On Friday, March 22, 2013, the trail ride rode through our city shutting down major freeways and roads. It is a staple for us down here in the South and something we cherish. We can always tell who is a new person, because they are the only ones angry with the traffic that the cattle drive causes. It is also a day where everyone dresses up in cowboy boots and hats and outfits to work in which we refer to as Go Texan Day. Another weekend event is the BBQ Cookoff on Saturday where teams compete for the honor of the best barbecue in Texas. But really it's just a big party. To combat the drinking and eating for that night and well the next few weeks, a 5k/10k run is scheduled for that morning through the downtown area called ConocoPhillips Rodeo Run.

So, when my friend Sara told me that she had signed up for the 10k, I couldn't resist. It's been awhile since I've ran a 10k. I guess I have just been stuck in a 5k holding pattern. I wanted to break that and go for the 10k. I felt good about it...until the actual day happened.

This was another hard week for me, which are now hitting me more often than not to start out 2013. My ex husband who was a big part of my life passed away on Tuesday. Even though we haven't spoken in forever due to the divorce and what nots, it was still a rough time for me. I was thrust in to the connecting point for everyone and I'm not sure how I got through it, but I did. Consequently, I was scared about this run. I hadn't slept much, I ate awful all week, and I drank more than I should have. And I'm not even including the fact that I haven't put foot to pavement for a run since the Sunday before this happened. But I was determined to go. So, I sent Sara a text warning her that I'm not prepared and I will be slow.

I went to pick up my packet the day before at Luke's Locker and ended up buying new shoes (Brooks Cadence) and some new clothes. I did get a free T-shirt, which I decided to wear on race day.

Aren't they so beautiful? My first minimal shoe with some padding. I only wished I could wear them on the run.
I even did something out of character for me mainly because I hardly get my packet ahead of time. I actually picked out my outfit and got it ready to grab the next day. I only wished I found my ipod the night before instead of scrambling to find it at the last minute before heading out the door.

My new blue Thoro socks to match my new shoes, new black Nike Dry Fit Capris (LOVE THEM) with a back zipper pocket , old Asics Nimbus, and my free T-shirt.
After some mumbles of frustrations trying to locate my ipod (not sure why I brought this) and Jim wishing me good luck on my run via Skype, I headed towards downtown. I had a vague idea of where to park, but somehow I ended up on the other side of 45 due to a wrong turn. I parked really close to the start line and near the entrance to the freeway. I just hope it wouldn't be blocked by the parade.

Parade you say? Yes, this run is followed by a parade with all those people from the trail ride and other people representing something of Houston. We even get to see them lined up on our run route. Also, we get a pretty decent crowd cheering us on because of the parade.

I met up with Sara, Kris, and their friend Erica right by the start line. These are some of the pictures I took.

The cowboy boot sneakers were very popular. Why didn't I think of this?

I'm not sure what to say about this guy. I thought it was fake at first, but it was not. Too much bronze?

I couldn't help not getting a picture of me by the big boot.

This girl was just too cute for words.

Kris, Sara, Erica, and I by the boot.

So, I finally got set up to take this picture. I was in perfect position. I waited for everyone to get out of my way. As soon as I took the picture, this guy to right got in the picture to stand right next to the Marines. Thanks Douche!

I had to run for this shot.
It was a madhouse getting to the start line. It was so packed and I began to worry that this would be the Turkey Trot all over again. However, they did start the 10k people before the 5k people. We were literally next to the starting line on the sidewalk without really moving, but the starting line was set for those runners that have ended the race before you make it to the turnaround point. It wasn't meant for our group. So, we pushed our way through the crowd when the whistle blew and just went with the 8 minute mile group. We just moved to the side as quick as we could to get out of there way.

This was right before the race...literally.

Heading to a normal start position. Yeah, I instagrammed it!
On a side note, I thought it was rude that the wheelchair start occured before the National Anthem was completed by the Marines. I have never seen that happen at any sporting event EVER. It was bad enough you couldn't hear them very well and everyone was talking, but to start the event before the song was done...well, there really isn't any excuse.

Back to the race. I put my ipod in one ear and had it playing low. I brought the thing only because I thought I would end up running this race alone. This was not the case. Sara stayed by my side all the way and there were lots of bands playing throughout the route, including university and high school bands practicing before the parade. In all actuality, the ipod was a hinderance and I stopped using it completely around mile 2. The wires kept hanging down low and the ear phones wouldn't stay in my bra. I spent some effort fixing them on a lot of the walk breaks.

Another technical difficulty was the back pocket on my new capris. Well, they aren't built for phones. It felt like I took a dump in my shorts weighing them down. Consequently, I was digging in to my back pocket early on (which I'm sure it looked worse to the spectators and runners behind me) so that I could just carry my phone the whole race. Maybe the running belt is still a good idea.

Sara and I decided to run five minutes, walk one minute, but run the first mile. This was a faster pace than I'm used to, especially with low levels of energy and shape and exercise and everything. But I kept with her. We started out pretty good. She kept track of when to start and stop since I started my watch earlier than I was supposed to and my watch times were off. Somewhere in the middle of the race, we changed it to run four minutes, walk 1 minute. I just couldn't keep going for an extra minute. This worked out so much better. If we came up to a hill (there were four total, plus one that snuck up on you), we would run down to the flat part even if we hit the four minutes and then walk up the hill.

The trail ride and parade route lined up ready to follow us.

These were some loud spectators that you just had to love.

Why didn't I think of an outfit like this?
I started to get slow and many times, I lost Sara. I always kept an eye on her and she would pull off to the side when she noticed I was not in her view anymore. I would stick up my hand to wave to her that I'm coming. I kept telling her leave me so she could get a good time, but she didn't. Somewhere around the fifth mile, I noticed the time. I started to flash back to my other 10ks and realized something...if I make it under 1 hour, 10 minutes, I will have a personal record (PR). That basically fueled Sara as my cheerleader to keep me going.

Then, I saw the finish line. I was so excited. I'm going to PR. And then Sara said, "No, that's the 5k finish line." WTF?! Lots of curse words came out of my mouth. What kind of sick joke is the race organizers trying to pull on us 10kers? In fact, I think they hated us, but more on that later. After that soul crushing tenth of a mile, I relinquished my dream of getting a PR. I didn't even see the finish line. So, now...I focused on finishing. I couldn't stop; I had to keep going. We crossed the finish line at 1 hour 11 minutes on the timer. I still wasn't sure if I got a PR. I searched my blog later that evening and saw that I got my 10k PR in 1 hour 12 minutes. The race results finally came out...
Chip Time
Gun Time
First 5K
Second 5K
Pace per Mile

I FREAKING GOT A PR!!! Holy moly. I was SO NOT expecting that at all and I have to thank Sara for it. She was awesome and I probably would have finished this well over an hour and half if it was not for her. Yes, I ran it, but she encouraged me, especially at the end. I'm super freaking excited about it, but after two days, I'm still so very sore. You can watch my finish video (which is pretty cool that they have) here.

Sara and I after the race. Look...I'm not dead yet.

Of course we had to get our picture with the Chic-Fil-A cows. Yes, I know the chain is controversial right now, but we weren't thinking about whether we support gay rights or not. It's cool cows that can't spell chicken. Read later about how I didn't get my fudgesicle.

What a cool shot of Houston in the background. Although, we aren't sure what that fenced area was. A cemetary?
Now, to my complaints. As I stated earlier, I think they hated the people doing the 10k. When we finished, we didn't even get water right away. It was on the other side of a fence. The part where you can go on the other side of the fence was at least a half a mile from the finish line and then you had to actually get back to the water. Granted, I could be exaggerating on the distance, but it was far and I was tired. We eventually reached over the fence to grab the warm water. Then, we saw Kris and Erica with water for us (still on the other side of the fence). I saw fudgesicles everywhere. I was on a mission to get one. However, because it took forever for us to get to the booth, they were out. The 5k people immediately got dumped in to the action and early whereas the 10k people had to walk and walk and walk to get to any of the action. Everyone had these bags full of goodies. Yup, was that at the finish line for the 10k people? Absolutely not. I was quite peeved. I plan to write that in the survey of how they can improve things.

But all in all, I'm happy I went and I got a PR. The walk back to my car had an interesting view.

These cowboys yelled at me in a good way.

These cowboys and cowgirls were blasting the Tejano music. The horse jumped and pranced to the tune of the music. It was nice ending to my run.
On another side note, my parking spot was awesome. I was just out of reach of the parade and easy access to the freeway. I will remember that for next time.

Next up...The Color Run on March 24, 2013, with Morgan, Kate, and Jules as The Color Giants. If you want to join us, just sign up.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Virtual Run for Sherry Recap

Last year, a horrible incident happened in the running community. A woman named Sherry went on a run in her home state of Montana and never returned. She was murdered by two men and it took months to find out what happened to her. I read Beth's blog called Shut Up and Run (read about the run here with more details) pretty regularly and she posted about her missing cousin. Beth organized a virtual run to raise awareness and donations. I could not participate last year, because I just had surgery on my ankle. But I was not missing the 2nd Annual Run for Sherry this year planned for February 9, 2013.

And then I got sick. I was feeling down that 2012 is starting to happen all over again and it's only February. Unfortunately, I was not able to run on Saturday; however, I started to feel good on Sunday. I tested out my stomach with a quick jog in my apartment and it didn't cause any pain. So, I got my outfit on and took some pictures to send to Beth.

On a side note, I was supposed to run The Red Dress run with Keelan on Sunday, but alas, I could not only not keep up with mileage, but I could not keep up with the pace (see below).

It's hard to take this shot. Naturally, I wore my Shut Up + Run shirt to show support.
I'm so glad my room was cleaned.
This was not an easy run for me. In fact, it was slow. I decided to just run up to the little track by my apartment in case something went wrong and I needed to get back home. My run was slow, so very slow, insanely slow. But I just couldn't push myself too much. The wind hit me hard on parts, but it felt good. It was a surprisingly humid day (getting ready for the rainstorm coming in, I guess). I stopped at one point to do 25 squats on this balancer thing. I wanted to work on my abs, but I know my tummy wouldn't allow it.

So goofy, I had to include it.
I couldn't even run a mile without stopping; the walk came around 0.65 miles. I knew there was no point in getting mad at myself, so I just accepted it and moved along.

I made it to the gate at 0.80 miles and knew that it wouldn't take me 0.20 to get home. I was determined to at least run a mile. So, I ran around the short part and ended at 1.10 miles total. Did I mention how slow this was? Well, not convinced...I ran a mile in 15 minutes. That's right 15 minutes. Wow! That is just painful writing. But it's okay, I know this is a temporary setback and will get better again. I hope.

During this run, I thought about Sherry. I thought about my surroundings. I thought about how my music affects my ability to be aware. So, I turned it down (only in one ear) and I made sure to say hello to the two people I saw. They were out exercising, too. But then I started to think about Sherry saying hello to those men beforehand and it made me think about my fears. She didn't have fear and I didn't have fear saying hello to those strangers. But would I have said hello to them if they weren't obviously exercising like myself? Probably not. I am working on saying hello to more runners out there, but I'm not sure I say hello to strangers not running/walking. After knowing what happened, I'm not sure I want to either.

Since I had 15 minutes to really think, I then started to think about my fears for the year. Since 2013 didn't start out the way I hoped it would (Groundhog day anyone?), I worried about my first marathon in October. I fear that I'm going to get really sick or injured or something else causing me to miss it all together. It's really getting to me and I'm trying very hard to not let those fears creep in, but they are there.

But in the end, I was happy to get out there even if it was a less than stellar run for me. And I have to work on pushing those fears aside.

Did anyone else do the Virtual Run for Sherry? I thought I saw two runners on Saturday with their bibs, but it turned out no. And no, I didn't stalk them for a quarter mile to get a better look.

Does anyone have fears out there regarding running? Any advice?

I decided not to write a list of all the safety stuff I could do or add more details about the murder since it was done in so many posts on so many blogs. I guess some of you may not have read that and it was a fault on my part. Maybe that will be another post.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Is It Spring?

Source: GOOGLE, Punxsutawney Phil Makes His Statement for 2013.
Punxsutawney Phil didn't see a shadow on February 2, declaring that there will be an early Spring for 2013. Well, I didn't need a groundhog to tell me that, because it has been Springlike weather here in Texas for the last couple of weeks. It's amazing outside, with temperatures during the day in the low 70s and 50s at night. There is low humidity, which means that you can run at anytime during the day. Plus, the days are staying lighter longer. So, my question for all you Texans out there, "Why aren't you outside?"

And that's what I did all weekend long. I needed it, too. I haven't been able to run too much and when I did, it didn't give me the satisfaction like usual. But I will get to that later. Let's get back to the beautiful running I did this weekend.

On Friday, I ran roughly 2.5 miles. I forgot to charge my watch, which meant that I just ran. Thankfully, I had my ipod. I only had two walk breaks, because I really tried to focus on my speed. More speed means more of Kristi out of breath and dying. And do you think I remembered what time I left out for my run? Of course not. So, I don't know how long it took me.

My goal this weekend was to get a three mile run in at some point. I am running a 10k in a couple of weeks and I need to prepare for it. At first, I planned for Sunday, but Saturday was just too beautiful. I kept going back and forth between which park to run at, because I woke up late (it's been a couple of weeks where I got a decent night's sleep) and just started everything late. As it would happen, my car steered me towards Memorial Park. I felt that since this was my first three mile run in 2013, I wanted to run it at the park I love best for long runs (one loop is three miles).

Did I mention how beautiful it was outside? Well, it was. I plugged in my ipod and set up my watch (I didn't forget it this time). I started out with a new song I downloaded by Pat Green called Feeling Pretty Good Tonight. It really just summed up my run. I decided to do some more speed work so I can reach that goal of doing a 5k in < 30 minutes. But I also tried out the 10 minute run/1 minute walk plan. My first mile was 10:06, which for me is awesome. I haven't done a 10 minute mile in such a long time. I was super excited about it. I wanted to make it right at 10 minutes, but well, it just didn't happen. I lost a little steam in the next mile with finishing it at 10:45. This is still not bad for me since I'm under 11 minutes. But my last mile was rough. I was huffing and puffing and had to take another walk break. Not to mention, I was super slow. I finished in over 13 minutes, which brought up my average to 12 minute miles or something. Even though my last mile sucked in terms of speed, I still ran three miles in 36 minutes. WOW! I couldn't believe it and that just gave me hope that I can get this goal done.

Sunday's run was my easy run, which reads SLOW and it was so very slow. I clicked the GPS on my watch inside my house, which I believe threw off my mileage. According to my watch, I ran three miles, but I'm pretty sure that I ran 3.5 miles. I finished this in roughly 47 minutes. It was turtle slow (not to be confused with the turtle powerhouses in the turtle races at Lil' Woodrow Thursday nights. I ran by my apartnment taking in different paths. I biked to Holly Hall before, but never ran it. I also added a quick trip around the track. It wasn't pretty, but I felt good afterwards and really good when I stuffed my piehole with Perifiteroles a plenty at the Anderson Superbowl Party.

So, that brings me to some things that I noticed on the runs. When did everyone get black Labradors? I swear I see them with every other owner. Losing Lady (my black Lab of 13 years) two weeks ago was hard, but it makes it harder seeing all these beautiful Labs happily running/walking with their owners. I still smile though, because I know the secret and that is they have the best dog ever.

Lady, the best dog a girl could have. I miss you!

Lady's pawprint. I think they did a good job.
This brings me to the other thing I noticed about running during a rough time (although, it did wonders for me when I went through that divorce) and that it just didn't satisfy me or make me smile. I tried to run off the stress on the day I found out that she may have to be put down. I ran on that morning waiting to find out the results. I ran on the day after filled with sadness and guilt. Not either of those times made me feel good. In fact, I felt angry during the run. It didn't do for me what skydiving did for me when my dad died. And now I'm jonesin' for some air time. It's been a long time since I have been pacing waiting to go to the dropzone. This weekend will change this for sure.

But on a lighter note, I really kept to my goal of having at least two meatless day a month. I learned to make stuffed eggplant and then stuffed bell peppers. It has been fun learning these new recipes and they were delicious to boot. I wonder what February will bring for me!