Thursday, January 10, 2008

An Old Race Report from the 2004 Houston Marathon

This is an old race report from the 2004 Houston Marathon. There was a fairly strong wind that day that started out from the west and shifted to the north by the end of the race. During the middle of the race sustained wind was 15 mph with gusts to 22. If you're really bored:

Here's the quick and dirty:
Times 5K 20:13 10K 40:46 HALF 1:26:46 30K 2:04:12 37K 2:34:41 Pace (min./mile) 6:42 ClockTime 2:55:51 ChipTime 2:55:46

Back in August I decided on a goal of 6:40 mpm. This would be a pretty good PR, might be enough to get me near the 1st corral in Boston 2005, and is the number of the submarine class I was on (640 class, I was on SSBN 642).

I calculated 6:40 equivalent paces for four warmup races through the Fall. I missed the goal pace by 10 spm during a warm 10 miler in October, but beat it during the subsequent 20K, 25K, and 30K races. I missed my local 10K race two weeks ago and substituted a 9K in New Orleans that I ran pretty poorly.
10M 1:03:38 (~2:58:30)
20K 1:17:57 (~2:53:20)
25K 1:39:24 (~2:52:10)
30K 1:59:28 (~2:52:10)
9K 35:59 (~3:08:00)

These compared pretty well against last year's races:
10M 1:07:33 (~3:09:30) On an incredibly hot and humid day
20K 1:20:54 (~2:59:51)
25K 1:50:14 (~3:13:00) Another warm and humid day
30K 2:03:02 (~2:57:14)
10K 38:11 (~2:58:10)
M 2:58:53 The highlight of my running career, a super 16 minute PR on a near perfect day

I started off from a Summer base of about 50 mpw and averaged 67 mpw from M 18 to M 2 with a peak of 87 mpw. This compared pretty well against last year's mileage: 64 mpw average with a 83 peak. The warmup races had me thinking 6:35 mpm was do able with cool weather. But January's super slow 9K had me really discouraged. I shifted my goals from 6:40 mpm toward 6:35 mpm. I was able to get 7 20 milers in, but several were pretty slow due to warmer than normal weather in December hitting on my long run days. In retrospect, my training was pretty weak in tempo runs at 6:40 or faster.

I left my house at ~4:15AM, much relieved that the promised cold front came through overnight, leaving a beautiful starry sky and much cooler temps. I watched the crescent moon rise during my drive to Houston and started wondering if I'd need my sunglasses. I talked with a few people before the race, then hit the Porta pots one last time at about 6:25. Murphy's Law: My line was held up for over ten minutes by one person. Why would anyone stay that long in a stinky Porta can? The lines were all moving past us. We were wondering if we'd need to call the EMTs. The guy finally emerged, but I didn't make it through the line until 6:50 I worked my way up the stream of people to drop off my bag and then ran out the North entrance to the starting line. I was just barely able to squeeze in before the F 16 flyby. I was about ten or fifteen rows back, but not too bad, whew!

Split Elapsed

1. 6:25 6:25 Got stuck behind a fairly large pack of people barely shuffling along. The initial frustration and adrenaline got the best of me after getting around them. Finally put on the brakes when I pulled in behind Rich F, one of the top local masters.

2. 6:35 13:00 My right shin feels really bad; I'm not going to be able to run 26 with shin splints. Still maintaining position behind RichF: somewhat surprised he's starting this slowly (or maybe that's why he's one of the top masters?).

3. 6:32 21:34 Still up with Rich, but after this mile I know it's time to let him go.

4. 6:36 28:44 This is the pace I'd planned to run. The shin splints aren't as bad now, but I still don't feel very good. I don't remember as many hills (small inclines?) in here from last year. Spent a while looking over my shoulder at a beautiful sunrise over downtown Houston while crossing I45. It looks as though the weather forecast is going to hold with a cloud cover building up.

5. 6:34 32:42 Waved to a coworker from the Nuke plant here. He'd set up a spot marked by yellow balloons with radiation symbols for runners from the power plant to toss extra clothing. I had nothing to discard.

6. 6:41 39:23 Still by myself here. I start looking around for someone I know to latch onto.

7. 6:40 46:03 I see someone up ahead who looks like one of the group of four I ran with last year. He hears someone cheer for the Tornados, my running club, we start talking and it's the same guy. I haven't seen him (Dan) since last year.

8. 6:36 52:39 I'm talking with Dan quite a bit, catching up with last year's race and his goals for this year. He got 2nd place in his AG last year (20 24, he's a recent grad from UPenn) and missed 1st, and an hp digital camera award, by just a few seconds.

9. 6:40 59:20 The half marathoners turn around here and we find we're nearly all alone. There are only two runners visible in front of us, nearly 100 yards away.

10. 6:38 1:05:57 We enter my favorite area of the course near Rice U. I'm feeling a little better, the shin splints are long gone, but I still feel I shouldn't be working this hard now.

11. 6:45 1:12:42 Heading SouthWest down Main Street, amazed that it seems to be into the wind...uh oh. This is one of my favorite miles. I point out my residential college, where I lived the 4 years I was at Rice U. Martin, another big guy, came up to us but dropped back after only a few seconds. He would've been a great wind screen. Dan isn't much taller than chest high on me.

12. 6:39 1:19:21 Onto University Drive, still along the Rice campus. This part is WestNorthWest, but it doesn't seem as windy

13. 6:43 1:26:04 Not talking with Dan as much as we work through the wind. We're still side by side but I'm thinking we really should be single file. One of the announcers from the local NPR station calls both our names and towns out over the loudspeakers at WestU. There's nobody else near us.

14. 6:41 1:32:45

15. 6:44 1:39:29 We catch up to another guy and Dan asks him to run with us. I finally take the initiative and ask them to follow behind me single file as I speed up. I run over the big hill/overpass by myself, not sure if they're in behind me. Dan comes up alongside me again at the first turn after the downhill.

16. (~6:47 ) Missed this mile mark. There's a pretty tough, lonely section here that's a wide sweeping curve between the SouthWest Freeway and a noise barrier.

17. 13:35 (16 and 17) 1:53:04 Heading North up Post Oak. A pack of a couple people including Miguel from my Houston running club (he's 52 yo!) passes us and I try to do a little drafting.

18. 6:47 1:59:51 West again on San Felipe. I couldn't keep up with Miguel but I'm maintaining about 20 yards back behind him. Dan's still running alongside, but I was able to a little drafting passing a few people.

19. 6:42 2:06:32 In the Tanglewood ($$$) area. I'm falling back a little from Dan. He encourages me to pull up with him, but I'm feeling pretty tired. We turn East onto Woodway and the wind is suddenly gone My average pace has climbed up to 6:40 and I feel defeated. (At Houston, most of the miles have timers calling out average pace...even with the late miles' mental haze it's easy to gauge your progress (or my decline .)

20. 6:49 2:13:21 I'm back up with Dan, passing a few people but still maintaining about 30 yards behind Miguel.

21. 6:48 2:20:09 Includes a rail line underpass, the first of several to come. I see Victor, my Houston running club's "Pappy", in Memorial Park; he asks how I feel and I say I'm pretty tired. Agapito, 'Pete,' from the power plant and my Houston running club (actually Victor and Pete got me to join this running club) passes me. I tell him way to go and that he looks really strong.

22. 6:37 2:26:47 Victor comes past me and I follow him. I think Dan drifts back here. I'm surprised because I was struggling to keep up with him just a few miles ago. I'm in a line of four people from my running club: Miguel about 30 yards ahead, then Pete, then Victor, then me. It's pretty cool seeing all the same Tornados singlets up ahead. A little farther up ahead there are two women, the first women runners I've seen since the half marathoners split off!

23. 6:55 2:33:42 We caught up to Pete, but after getting beside him for just a few seconds, I drift back again. I'm pretty discouraged this mile. Pete passes Miguel who's behind one of the women (with a pony tail). The other woman is running much slower and I pass her.

24. 7:01 2:40:42 Onto Allen Parkway. I'm losing sight of Pete, but still maintaining my distance behind Miguel and the pony tail woman.

25. 6:56 2:47:39 Downtown is just up ahead. Victor stops and when I catch up to him he tells me concentrate on Miguel. I catch up to Miguel, but the pony tail person up ahead seems to be gaining on me.

26. 6:44 2:54:22 Finally into the downtown area! Two guys pass me, but I catch up and pass a woman in Colorado flag shorts.

26.22 1:24 2:55:46 I think I'm by myself again. I hear the announcer call my name and hometown. If you have the video from Channel 13, they actually follow my big ugly body around the last corner.

Pretty mixed feelings about this race. Ended up with a 6:42 mpm that revenge from my old submarine? Excedrin Headache 642.

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