Saturday, February 27, 2010

ConocoPhillips 10K Rodeo Run Race Report!

This morning I had the privilege of running the ConocoPhillips 10K Rodeo Run.  The weather was generally good, with temperatures in the mid 40's, clear skies and relatively low humidity, with the only weather-related challenge being a stiff 10 MPH northerly wind.

Since the popular Rodeo Riders parade immediately followed the race there was a large and supportive crowd which was very motivating.  Hoping to perform well, and cognizant from prior Rodeo Run experiences of problems with congestion if starting further back, I lined-up within five feet of the start line.  As I had never before been within easy sight of the ultimate race winners I observed that group during the immediate minutes before the start, and was happy to see their relaxed collegiality and good cheer.

After the bang of the gun due to my not being obstructed as usual by slower runners, the loud cheers from the crowd, and the wind being at my back I knocked-out the fastest single mile I have ever run - 6:17!  Struggling for breath, however, I realized that I was foolishly allowing my high levels of adrenaline to drive me to an unsustainable pace, so of necessity I backed-off a bit in the second mile, running a more moderate but a still excessively ambitious 6:33.  The third and forth miles were my slowest and most challenging at 6:53 and 6:52 respectively owing to the combination of a strong headwind and significant elevation changes (due to our climbing a very long bridge over a decidedly non-scenic freeway and rail yard).  Upon turning around however, with the wind suddenly being at our backs I ran the fifth and sixth miles more easily, with a 6:47 and 6:48 mile.  Finally, owing to my rapidly growing fatigue it took all of my mental focus to slightly pick-up my pace in the final 0.21 miles to 6:42, and I ecstatically crossed the finish line with a time of 41:36 - a huge one-minute personal 10K record (set at last November's 'Turkey Trot')!

While I was obviously delighted with the race outcome, it is crystal clear that my initial scalding 6:17 mile and too fast second mile prematurely sapped my kick.  Being primarily a long-distance endurance runner most comfortable at the half and full marathon distances I neglected my coach's frequently repeated guidance, i.e. every runner should run the second half of every race or training run faster than their first (mine was 35-seconds slower).  In retrospect, in the initial mile had I glanced at my trusty Garmin Forerunner I could have made an immediate correction to my pace which would have paid dividends later.  Nevertheless, I was otherwise satisified since I did eventually back-down to a still-ambitious, but not excessive level of exertion.

  • Thanks to the Kenyan Way program and Coach Sean Wade.  Clearly my improved fitness is continuing to pay dividends.  Note: A shout of congratulations to the Sean who despite being 44 won today's overall race with a time of 31:27 (i.e. 5:04 average pace!)  It's rare to have an opportunity to be coached by someone who truely knows and loves their sport; it's even less common to see that knowledge superimposed on a life-long gifted athlete of his caliber.
  • Thanks to the Rodeo Run volunteers and the huge Houston crowds for their support and encouragement.
  • I happily noted afterwards that per Dr. Jack Daniels predictive correlations today's race result suggests that I should be able to achieve a 3:12 marathon.  While ambitious (my marathon personal record is 3:19) this points to the attainability of the 3:15 personal goal that I've set for April's Boston Marathon.
  • Another P.R. on my Newton running shoes - which I continue to swear by on race day.
  • Official stats:
    • Average pace 6:42.
    • Overall: 106/5414 (top 2%)
    • Males: 96/2722 (top 3%)
    • Division (50-54): 8/246 (top 3%)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Austin Marathon Race Report!

This morning I ran the Austin Marathon, and while I found the hills HUGELY challenging versus the much easier Austin course that I'd run five years ago I neverthless narrowly managed to eke out a personal record by one-second!

When I'd last run Austin five years ago the course was both faster and easier since it started twenty-miles north of the city and finished downtown, providing a gentle downhill for much of the course and an overall net elevation decline of more than 400 feet.  Unfortunately, the growing logistical challenges of busing race participants, and dealing with the frustration caused by traffic jams on the surrounding narrow roads in the north Austin area caused race organizers to adopt the current course - which is a technically challenging looped course through most of Austin's many hills (see link).  Nevertheless, though challenging the course was both interesting and achievable.

The race began with a pyrotechnics display directly over the start line.  In downtown Austin's pre-dawn darkness the pyrotechnics were spectacular, however due to the lack of wind the resulting fumes lingered in the starting area - which we were unfortunately forced to breathe as we started our run.

Quickly getting past the starting line the weather conditions were good, as fortunately a predicted cold front with accompanying strong winds and rain held-off until just after the marathon finished.  The sky was crystal clear, and as a result the temperature quickly rose from the initial mid 30s to the mid 50s - though perceptually warmer still owing to the high humidity.
As with other recent successful recent marathons I made the decision to run with a pacing group, on today's occasion the 3:20 group since I was hoping to beat my prior personal record of 3:19:38 set on Houston's flat course one-month ago.  The two Austin 3:20 pace group leaders did a fantastic job of keeping the group organized, motivated and encouraged.  They demonstrated incredible running discipline and strength by holding an extremely consistent pace - whether running up or down hills.  As I didn't possess the strength to easily match their pace on the steepest up-hills I ran behind the group at those points (though always keeping the group in sight), then caught them on the ensuing downhill.  Even more-so than in prior marathons the pacing group was pivotal in allowing me to set my narrow personal record.  Thanks again, pacers!!