Saturday, May 29, 2010

Astros Race for the Pennant 5K Race Report

This morning I ran the Astros "8th Annual Race for the Pennant 5K" (a highly optimistic name given the Astros horrible season and their firm command of the National League's last place!)

The race was
miserable - partly due to the race organizers, and partly due to my own decisions leading into the race.

Naturally, the organizers have no responsibility for the weather, and I certainly knew what I was in for with the predicted sweat-bath temperatures of 75-80°F, clear sunny skies and 90%+ humidity (made worse by the prior evening's unusual rain storm). What the race organizers are responsible for, however, is assuring that there's adequate water on the course, and providing a festive atmosphere as the runners finish inside Minute Maid Park. In both regards the race was a failure.

Unfortunately the water stations at miles one and two were extremely understaffed, which prevented runners from getting enough water. Though the few volunteers did their very best, which was certainly appreciated by myself and the other runners, it was a shame that they didn't have more help (note to self - the next time that I don't run a local race help out!) Unexpected from prior year's more successful Astro's 5K's was upon concluding the race inside Minute Maid Park (which is very cool since the very end of the race is run down the ramp to the park's playing surface) we were greeted with stone-silence in the cavernous park and were surprised to see the band still setting-up their equipment!

Disappointed by being unable to find water before the race began I surprised myself somewhat by managing an acceptable 6:46 first mile over the very unscenic course (which quickly leaves downtown with two lengthy sections over a seemingly unending rail-yard overpass then grungy commercial warehouse district).  Partly due to my growing dehydration and fatigue my pace slowed to a sweat-laden 7:12 second and third mile, following which I slowed even further in the ramp to the finish with an overall personal worst 5K of 22:01, 10th place in my division, and nearly two-minutes slower than the far superior 
Sprint for Life 5K

Hopefully in the future the Astros management will do a better job in recruiting volunteers (potentially providing some decent baseball tickets as an incentive)
and ideally offer the race earlier in their season - both when the weather is more suitable and there's some residual beginning-of-the season excitement concerning the club's potential.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Reasons NOT to run a Marathon

With Joe Garland, Matt, Colin Hayes and Flo I participated late this afternoon in a fun episode of the Runners Roundtable Podcast and truly enjoyed it.  The episode can be accessed either through RRT's website, through iTunes or directly through this link.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Sprint for Life 5K Race Report

Earlier this morning I enjoyed running M.D. Anderson's 13th Annual "Sprint for Life" 5K. Though a very experienced runner with numerous marathons, half-marathons and 10Ks under my belt, I'd never before run an officially timed 5K race. Consequently, a P.R. was assured!

In fact, I was somewhat concerned since I was hoping to run faster than my recent 4-mile P.R. pace of 6:40 minutes per mile - however the weather was decidedly uncooperative with a starting temperature of 75°F, clear skies and 90% humidity. Fortunately, I had an opportunity to warm-up beforehand with a fellow KenyanWay runner and to chat with a few friends - which appropriately re-focused me to simply have a good time.

Starting about ten runners from the lead I held my position. However, owing to the heat and my poor pacing I was unable to negative split as I had intended. My first mile split was 6:24, followed by 6:33, 6:44, following which I finished the final 0.11 miles at a 6:30 pace.  My overall 20:19 time was second in my age group and 11th place overall.

Afterward, I visited KenyanWay Sean Wade's excellent site, which computes WMA age-graded rankings for races and individuals.  Age-grading has the effect of adjusting runners' performances as if each individual were at their youthful peak (a fascinating concept by itself!) Unfortunately official race results aren't determined on this basis, as I would have been in 4th overall place!

Summing up, I rate the "Sprint for Life" 5K as an excellent Houston-area race. It is very well organized, fun, provides plenty of support on and off the course to runners & walkers - and most importantly all funds raised goes towards the excellent cause of supporting ovarian cancer research at M.D. Anderson.