Sunday, June 30, 2013

Halfway there!

May 15 of this year, after 1 month of the Boston Marathon bombing, I took it upon myself to begin a 90 day runstreak in honor of those who lost their lives, and the countless others that were injured. As of lately, I've been so relieved that those who were in fact injured are all recovering and doing quite well. Unless there is something in the news I missed, please let me know.

So back to the runstreak!!

Today being June 30, 2013, and day 47 of my streak, I know I'm 2 days over half way, but I've hit the point in this self challenge where I've almost treated it like a race. From May 15-31, I made ran 63 miles and for the month of June, I made it up to 94 for a total of 157 miles. Not the numbers I wanted, but then again, I am not necessarily training for a race at this time, but in the back of my mind, I've got Heels and Hills and Him half marathon coming up on September 22. In this streak, I have managed a couple of days to top out at 7 miles as the heat is rising this summer. Also, I've got into the discipline of doing short 2-3 miles to work on speed. Even have done speed interval workouts: From 2:00/1:00 run-walk and even did 5:00-2:00 rw combos. Anything to help me get faster, I've done it. My best 2 miler was just done a few days ago with a time of 16:20 (8:10 pace) followed by a fast 5 miler (for me anyway) in 43:35 (8:43 pace). Just need to get more into the 8 and 9 mile distances at a time at this speed and I'll be satisfied.

I've become such a speed junkee that I want to go fast. I know I want to run, but I want to run hard, fast, and strong. Anything to chase after that elusive time I want for a sub 2 hour half marathon, and a sub 4 hour full marathon. Once achieved, I'll work on dialing into that pace that will carry me for 26.2 miles to help me qualify fo Boston.

It's like I've gotten angry over the fact that this had to happen to Boston, that I want to fight back. I guess this is my way of fighting, My enemy just happens to be the person I've fought for the last 3 years, and am continuously beating this person, MYSELF!!

I don't have any big goals for July other than to run in this heat because I have no other choice, but hopefully break into 100 again. As I said above about how I've treated this as race, I do have my days where I'm tired, hurt, dehydrated, and overall exhausted, but I can't let that stop me. I've had some wall moments where I wanted to quit and wound up settling for just a mile here and there, but I was content with the fact that I ran for Boston that day, and nothing else mattered. I've had wall moments where I started the run out great, and by the time I got back home, I was ready to keel over. Something in me just said keep going. I hope as I toe the line for my next race(s) that this emotion can stick with me as I hit that part where I know I'm almost finish, but don't want to move anymore. I'll remember what I'm out there.

Run strong

Be Epic Yo!!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

26 into 90

Just wanted to log in and blog some more. I spent a good portion of the day after I ran this morning, just picking away on my guitar and just appreciating two talents I have that I love absolutely. Running and playing my guitar. I'm not Steve Prefontaine nor am I no Stevie Ray Vaughan, but I love what I do the same way these two legends loved their respective talents.

So, today I completed day 26 of my 90 day run streak that I started on May 15. Collectively, I have ran a total of 103 miles with an average of 3.96 miles a day. Just about ready to tip the ice of hitting over 4 a day. My goal is 6. This coming week, I'll be going out of town for a ministry camp I've been involved with since I was 19, so there may be some mornings where I'll either get 1 measly mile per day, or switch it to a night run and get the 3 or 4 I want. I'll have to see how this goes. Today, I sat and pondered as I sat down after mixing my post run shake of chocolate powdered protein mix with a banana over some almond milk, I couldn't help but think about how far I've come since my last blog where I wrote about "milestones". I'm excited about the fact that it's now summertime in North Texas, so with that, here comes the heat and the humidity. The last couple of days that I've ran, I've been challenged with these elements of nature, and humbled to have ran respectively 7 miles yesterday and 6 today.

I've also been met with physical adaptations as well. I remember back when I trained for my big races in the past, how fatigued I would get, emotionally tired, and most of all, drained. They all pretty much pointed to how TIRED I was and rest was much needed. In light of this runstreak I am out to do, I've kept those moments in the back of my mind and remembered to take it easy when I needed to and run light on those days. To be honest, after the first week, there were a couple of days where I was so spent that 1 to 2 miles was about all I could muster. Still, a run is a run, so I counted it. Amazingly, the next day I was refreshed and ready for a good 5 to 6 miler. As a bonus, I've dropped close to 10 pounds and my legs feel every bit of it, just wish my waistline did as well. LOL!! With summer coming, my intake of snow cones, ice cream, and junk food increases by a truck load. Ok, that's an exaggerate, but none the less, I eat a lot. I'm working on that too. I promise.

As my run streak has continued on, I've also thought about how my friends in this sport that run ultras train. I imagine those that do a particular runstreak, run the miles I'm running as a "recovery" run, or a "warmup" for that matter. To each his own in that aspect. Love you ultras, someday, I'll conquer this quest..In this respect, I think about how motivated I've been to want to push for that extra mile each morning I step out to do my thing. It's humbling in every way. Can't explain, it just feels good, and in some cases peaceful as I've stated in a run I posted on one day.When you know, you know..

This coming week will mark 1 month that I've been at this task. I can't wait to see what distance I can obtain in the next 30+ days. I didn't really set much of a goal of how many miles I want to accomplish at the end of this challenge, but I'm feeling confident that I can reach 400 by the time it's over. And if I have to stretch to 100 days to reach that goal, you now know I'll be crazy enough to do so. Maybe that will be my birthday present for myself when the time comes around for it.

Off to the races in September as I finish up this streak and persue the next challenge of qualifying for half fanatics. My schedule is as followed so far to obtain this

September 22 - Hills and Hills and Him - Half marathon
October 12 - The Showdown Half
October 20 - The Honored Hero Half

If I catch wind of any "filler" races I can find in between and they're affordable, I may jump in on them as well... Let's get crazy here

Be Epic Yo

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Heels and Heels Half 2013

Race Report:

I could just about nickname this race "Fairview, Part 2!" This race was awesome. Another half marathon in the books, and my second one to have the pleasure of running as a pacer. LOVE LOVE LOVED it.. Can't express enough of how much fun I had today. I was humbled by over the last 3 years, that I would at the point in my running career where I could honestly say that running 13.1 miles is EASY. I'm not at all tooting my own horn, but merely appreciating more and more of the athletic talent that is unfolding within me. I've always learned to respect the distance, no matter what. Today was another day of showing my love and respect for 13.1 miles. I've heard of runners saying that the Half Marathon is just about their favorite distance. I have to agree!! Here is my recollection of today's epic journey across my hometown.

It was my luck I stumbled upon the opportunity to pace this course. As I've said before, this race has an affiliated race (same course) called Heels and Hills and Him that takes place in September. I ran the 10k at HHH, and placed 2nd in my age group. Today was just a revisit of this course, only venturing out further, and finding a reward in what it takes to be a pacer. The Heels and Hills pace team is formed with an elite group of 16 men (2 men per pace from 1:50-3:00) known as the "Men in Skirts". Yes! I said skirts. The Heels and Hills race is a non-profit group that supports the activeness in women. As an encouragement for women, moms, housewives, etc to get active. Us men in our skirts had the pleasure of pacing these ladies today.

The course itself took place in the northern part of my hometown of Irving, Texas in the area known to locals as Las Colinas. Along the Campion trail that runs down through Las Colinas, under some of the major highways, and then loops around and comes back. Beautiful course, mostly flat with a "fair share" of rolling hills. Perfect trail to run on if you want that all chasing PR if you ask me, sets the Heels and Hills course. With temps in the low of 50 and the high of 69, perfect conditions, and as a bonus, the course was predominately shaded, so it was a great race to run overall.

As every race I blog about, I always start with the very beginning. Usually with the expo, or packet pickup, to getting up at the crack of dawn to get ready. Well, this race was more simplified then some of the big races like Dallas White Rock or Cowtown, where it's a 3 day event. This race was so laid back, and easy to manage. It involved me going Friday afternoon to the hotel where the expo was held to get my gear. I was in and out in under 5 minutes. I was so excited about this race, just like I was when I ran my first race 3 years ago. I went to bed last night at 10 and got up at around 4:30 this morning, and was wide awake. Did the usual take the dogs out routine, showered, dressed, and was out the door by 5:40. Along the way out to the course with Stacie, I had the added pleasure of bringing my mother with us to the race. Luckily, she lives just 5 minutes away (driving time) from the course, so it was no challenge getting her, some essentials we packed and on our way. I had to improvise a bit by dropping them off close to where the starting/finish line was and make U-turn to the parking garage. Again, another great race where parking was free, and I even got a spot right by the entrance. Win-win!! So, I parked, grabbed the chairs I loaded up and the other essentials mom and Stacie used while I was on my journey with the other runners.

Just so happened, they walked up, found the first corner spot of the race and camped out there. Not only that, they met my pace partner, Jerome "Jerry" Floyd aka "Big Sexy". I eventually caught up with them and reunited with Big Sexy, as I had met him at the Fairview Half we paced in last month. Great dude, good sense of humor and we clicked immediately. Our jokes and "sexy humor" made the 2:20 awesome as one other runner said to me after the finish. With time to spare, and as all of the pacers showed up, word got out quick that the MIS were on the scene and runners after runners flooded to us like we were a rock band getting pictures taken with us. I gotta admit, I enjoyed the "rockstar" moment. Not very often I get this kind of attention, so I drank it up. What would you have done?? Honestly!! By 7:15 sharp, our pace team Captian, Jose Vega aka "Pepe" got us together for our group picture over by the line and then more pics from the runners came and went. That was the fastest 15 minutes of the day because the next thing I heard was the announcer calling the Half Marathon runners to take position as they began the start of the race, followed by the 10k, and then 5k runners. Big Sexy and myself took our place about 10 yards behind the 2:10 pacers, heard the National Anthem, and then it wasn't long after that that the race took off.

As we inched our way up the starting line, I had my stop watch set for once I stepped over, I would hit the start button and then take the pace flag and take off. Once over the line, I felt the wind in my face and the joy of running was within me again. I stayed to the right hand side of the street where I knew my wife and mom would be. Cameras aimed, they took a few good shots of me and Jerome taking off with the group and from there, I knew this was going to be a great run. Since Jerome and I have had a fill for this race after running it before, we knew where certain spots and turnarounds were going to be. I don't what it was about this race, but it was somewhat hard for me and Jerome to maintain the 2:20 pace. For the first 3 miles, just at the 10k turnoff, we kept the pace on target. As my old habit stirred up again, I felt warmed up and sped up JUST a little bit. A "little bit" was a somewhat an understatement, as we passed mile 4, we were close to 5 minutes ahead of pace time. I took advantage of that incase there was a wall that was hit, we could cash in on some of the minutes we were ahead of. This plan worked to the T!! As we reached beyond the 10k mark, Jerome and I were exactly 5 minutes ahead of pace. Going into the second half of the race, and just a small round of hills, this worked well for us. All we had to do now was keep encouraging our group of runners and let them know they were doing fantastic. I had one lady ask me questions that she thought was "stupid" regarding the race if it was an exact "out and back" race. I told her not to worry about asking a stupid question because there have been some races where it was considered out and back, but had a big loop at the end prior to swinging it back to the finish line. At mile 8 we had crossed the same bridge we crossed before going to the big loop after the 10k split and was met with a set of arrows going one and another set pointing a different direction, and a courtesy cop pointing us to the way we needed to go. Big Sexy was humorous enough to tell the officer that we weren't drunk, just dared to wear these skirts. I myself made more fun by lifting the front of my skirt trying to do a "Marilyn Monroe" impression. Failed... LOL!!

After that little laugh, we were going from mile 8 into 9 with yet another set of confusing arrows. My philosophy was to just go with the flow of traffic. The majority of the runners ahead of us were going straight and the one confusing arrow was pointing towards a big hill that looped back onto the course. My philosophy paid off as there was a race guide sitting on the job and telling us at the last minute to NOT go up the hill. Not to complain Mr Race Guide dude, but DO YOUR JOB!! By, then I had also began to feel a bit of discomfort in my leg, which again was my IT Band. I have got to get that fixed. I stopped, stretched, continued till just after mile 10 when it happened again. So, stop, stretch, continue again. It worked. This is were those 5 minutes Jerome and I had in the bank was getting cashed in. At mile 11, we were 3 minutes ahead, so it was easy for us to slowly inch our way back. Little did we know, what we thought was inching back was actually going a bit faster. At mile 12, I could hear the crowds and announcer talking through the PA, and we had dialed back down to being just 3 minutes ahead. By then, mine and Jerome's little rat pack we had formed throughout the raced had dissolved some. Only to have it grow back towards the end. One of the runners that had stayed with us had mentioned that we had gone a little too fast for the group, which we humbly apologized for, but paid off right at the end, when we hit the last hill, then the last turn off before hitting the main bridge where the line was.

As we made that turn, Jerome and I had dialed back down to being just 1 minute ahead. We exhausted that last minute by encouraging one lady who we had passed up for a split second. I quickly turned and yelled "come on".. this is your race, finish strong. Then Jerome followed up by letting her know this was for her not us, so finish strong. Amazing how spent that woman was, she found it in her like all experience when seeing the finish to gun it. I as a pacer was taken back again by all of my past races where I felt that same desire. This lady finished right at 2:20 with Jerome and myself. Just before I passed the line, my wife and mother had moved over towards the finish line to get some pics of me as I was coming in. It was a nice easy jog coming in and it felt so rewarding to pace yet another great race. Finished right at 2:20 as the clock said 2:19:59, then it clicked over as I crossed. Nailed it again!! Finished, got my medal, high 5ed Big Sexy as we did a great job pacing our group. Got some water and mingled a bit. I met up with my wife and mom for more pics, then mingled some. I waited around for my tattoo buddy Andrew aka "twentysix-two" as he was pacing the 2:40 group. He came in, hi 5ed me and took some more pics, had some laughs, and felt rewarded for what we all did today as pacers. Even though we were the "men in skirts", I would do it again in a heartbeat..

All dressed up and ready to go. A litte teaser. You'll see the skirt in action!! hehehe
Me and Jerome aka "Big Sexy:, Our goal was to make the 2:20 group the sexiest group of the race. Goal achieved... hahahahahaha
Here comes the Men in Skirts..

And I'm off. Yes this skirt made me look fat! LOL. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Me and Big Sexy coming in for the finish. I had to show some leg.
Giving the bling the bite. Notice the bib says "Timmaay"
The 2:40 group. Andrew and Johnny coming on in.

Me, Andrew, and Lisa.
"Brothers in arms" - Andrew
I sure made momma proud. Wifey has requested no pics of her posted in this blog. If I want to sleep in my own bed (with her) tonight, I will honor that request. Anyways, she's proud too.
I walked away proud of myself as well. The effects of the injuries and failures from the past are now behind me. This race has set the pace for me as to what lies ahead this summer. I'm still on tap for my 90 runstreak starting May 15. I don't have any races planned or lined up for this summer, other than to just run my streak and run to be fit and happy. I'm looking forward to the fall schedule as I gear up to Half Fanatic qualify. Game on!!


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Remebering Boston!

Monday, April 15, 2013.

Another day that will be etched in the minds of millions of people worldwide. I remember this day just like I remembered Tuesday, September 11, 2001. Almost the same setups. I was at work, in the breakroom, getting coffee, then getting stopped by a coworker and being asked "did you hear what happened?" It was like, time froze in a moment, and once again, I was cold to the core. I reverted back to that same old thought I had back when 9/11 occured. In 1998, when I was a senior in high school, I had enlisted into the United States Marine Corps. Like most families, mine with me being the only son, and also being raised by a single mother, I was inevitably talked out of joining. One of my life's greatest regrets. Anyways, that thought reoccurred over and over the day of the "Boston Bombing". Can't change the past, but I can create a future. I'm still working on that.

As part of my future that I am creating, being a runner has definitely opened some avenues up for me. I've met so many new friends, developed a greater desire to be healthy, love life more, and even live happier. As the explosions first aired on the tv waves, I immediately fell to my knees and prayed for the safety of those who I knew were up there, and even prayed for protection and healing of those who were injured. After the news released the casualties, my heart sunk after the announcement of the young boy Martin Richard. An innocent 8 year old who's desire was for PEACE. I couldn't watch it anymore!! Feeling helpless, I decided to get on the bandwagon as many of my running friends did, and runners world wide did as well. To support Boston, we were challenged the next day on 4/16 to wear previous race finisher tees. I felt it fitting to wear my last marathon shirt I had earned after running the Cowtown Marathon. In my job environment, the attire is business casual Monday thru Thursday, then casual (jeans) on Friday's. Given that is was a Tuesday, I really didn't care who said this or who said that, I am a RUNNER. Like many runners, we stand up like soldiers for our brothers and sisters who suffered on the battlefield of each and every race. I'm gonna show my support whether you like it or not. Thankfully, that day, I met up with on the lab director's or one of the "gods" of the company I work for. He thought my shirt was a little too bright, but was humbled by the fact that I would wear it. After explaining to him about me running marathons, and showing my support for Boston, he excused it and if I was to have had any actions taken against me, I was to let him know. Good thing nothing happened.

Cowtown 2013. My second marathon. Not the time I wanted, but was the best experience I had in a race where I walked away a more mature runner. I love those kind of runs/races where I in fact learn something that I never learned in previous workouts. That day was epic for me
In regards to my job, I just so happened to come upon a whole week where all of the employees of the company got "appreciated". As a reward, we got to dress casual Monday - Friday as a way of being thanked for our hard work, etc.. What better time for me personally to show my love for Boston by wearing previous race shirts. In my running up to this point up until April 6 when I ran my last race, I was done 5 Half marathons, 2 Fulls, 2 10ks, 2 5ks, 2 20 milers (1 was a DNF), and 1 15k. 14 races up to date. This coming Sunday will be race #15, which will also be half marathon #6. I was thinking as I was wanting to show my love for Boston, since the bombing was a "first time" event to ever happen in this tradition of over 100 years (can't remember if this was 117 or 118. Sorry Boston runners), what were some of the "firsts" I did in many of my races. I had 5 to pick from to spread throughout the week. It's not like I had to choose carefully, but I wanted to commemorate the best way I could. Here are the days marked out:
Day 1. 2010 Dallas White Rock Half Marathon. This was my first race I ever ran. I had lost 45 lbs by then prior to running this race. After failing at the attempt to apply for the local PD I applied for, this was also a cheer up present for me. Although I was hurting at the end of the race, I had never felt more accomplished in my own life. I was hooked on this thing called running. Never looked back!
Day 2. 2011 Dallas White Rock Full Marathon. This was my first FULL 26.2 marathon I ever ran. That day left a mark in my life that I will never forget. Finished in just under 5 hours, and felt proud that I slugged the whole course in the cold, pouring, rain. The first of many "best days" in my running career. I had set a higher bar, and achieved higher limits for myself.
Day 3. 2011 Ft. Worth Runner's Club Labor Day Race, 15k. This was my second race that I ran in Ft. Worth, but first race I ran in minimalist footwear. Nothing special, but I had also set a PR that day. By then, I was falling in love with running 10ks, and was hitting 55 minute (average) times when I ran them. My dearest friend and honorary coach, Lynn had twisted my arm to run this race with her since it was her birthday. I took her up on it, because it was also my first "training" run/race I did to kick off training for the White Rock Marathon (Day 2 shirt). I thought, what's an extra 5k gonna hurt on top of what I normally run. Nailed 9.3 miles in 1:27:??. It was a great day for a race.
Day 4. 2012 Heels & Hills & Him 10k. This was the first race I placed in my AG (age group). This particular tee is given to those who do just that. That day was one of what I thought was a bad race. Although, I signed up for the 10k at the last minute, the course was mismarked and I ended up along with everyone else who ran the 10k, running 7.3 miles. There was in fact some walking I had done towards the end because I was mad that I didn't reach the PR time I wanted, but I was not about to quit. So, I crossed the line, shrugged it off, the usual.. Shortly afterwards, it was like sweet redemption as I heard my name being called out over the loud speaker say that I had come in 2nd place in the M 30-34 division. Bonus: The H&H&H has a "sister" race call Heels and Hills, that I in fact will be participating in as a pacer this coming weekend. Can't wait!!
and Day 5. 2013 Fairview Half Marathon. My first race I ran as a pacer. I've spent the last 3 years as a runner, reformed athlete, whatever you want to call it, trying to figure who I am. Not only on the race course, but in the race of life I live on a day to day basis. In my part time adventures as a Personal Trainer, I take great joy in seeing the improvements of people I meet and workout with. My one client has vastly improved by dropping so much weight, and even now becoming a runner for the first time in his life. **and he's over 50 years old** If he can do it, so can you!! I've always wanted to pay it forward outside the gym as a pacer, and was blessed to do so in this race. For 2 hours and 30 minutes, I did just that along with making new friends as well. It is such a reward and great feeling knowing you helped someone else reach a goal, that you forget about your own goals. Pay it Forward, friends... Pay it Forward!!
 In the wake of this tragic event that happened almost a month ago, it still saddens me that there are selfish people in this world that would want to ruin a day like the day of the Boston Marathon. I always think to myself that someday, I am going to finish a marathon in the qualifying time I need in order to get a spot for this traditional race. Someday I will do that. I will remember my brothers and sisters that were wounded that day. Some of those runners had family members that will never be the same. Some of those runners may never be able to run again. A gift taken away from them at the hands of terror. We are runners, just life soldiers. We fight for one another.
Starting on May 15, exactly one month of this tragic event, I will begin a 90 run streak as my way of honoring those who were injured during the Boston Marathon. I as runner have one question to ask, "who's with me?"
See you out on the roads or trails.... Run for Boston..


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Fairview Half Marathon 2013

Race Report:

Half Marathon #5 for me. It only seems like they get better as I get older. Or so it seems. Some races I've ran in the past were good, others were great. Then there those that I asked myself "why did I even show up"? Today was a race where I was so rewarded and humbled from start to finish, and I say that unapologetically.

This morning started like any other race. I get up at 430, shower, get dressed, and out the door. Normally, I would also include taking my two dogs out, feeding them, etc, but today I didn't. Long story short, it was just me going to this race and not my wife. Why? Well today was also my sweet mother's birthday, so together wife and mom had a girl's day today, which left her in charge of "doggie duty" before she left..

Got that out of the way, on to another issue. I've had my share of driving long distances to races, and even dealt with the heavy flow of traffic. Those of you who've ran some of Dallas' big races know what I'm talking about. Well, today was just a little different. This morning, I had to take detour after detour just to get on the main highway so I can get out towards North Dallas and head north on Hwy 75 to Fairview. Why the heck did the surrounding cities have to tear up the roads and shut down the highways, huh? LOL.. After that was out of the way, I felt good about time and that I was going to make it to the race early like I had planned. Race started at 730, I got there at 645.. BAM!! As a bonus, I even got "front row parking" for free as well. No gimmicks, no catches. I just happened to pull in per the directions and found a parking spot close to the Fairview city building that housed and hosted the race. Lucky me.

I had received a text from my boy Clay aka "The Nite Train" saying that he was there and was wanting to know where I was and where to park. I told him I had just pulled in and wondering where to head to myself. We just happened to meet up in the city building then looked for our race gear. Once inside the building, I met up with Andrew aka "Twentysix-Two" and he directed me and Clay where to go for our stuff. Since we were both pacers, we didn't wear the tradition race t-shirts that they hand out to everybody, no! We got the sweet hookup on the "Active Joe" tech tees that all the other pacers wore. This shirt was cool looking. As all of the pacers showed up, got our time flags, and group pics, there were in fact some last minute time swaps and accomodations for the pacers and last minutes fill-ins for those that couldn't make. I loved how this group takes very strong initatives and can improvise on a dime. Good work team. At first, I was partnered with Robin to run in the 2:30 time slot, but she had bumped down to the the 2:15 group with Clay. At first, I thought I was going to be alone, but then at the last minute I was partnered with another DRC (Dallas Running Club) member Jeff C. He and I hit it off right away with the jokes, one-liners, and even encouragement as we helped our group get through the race. Jeff was also gentleman enough to pace with his girlfriend, Heather, who was running her first half marathon today. Details will soon unravel throughout this blog about them two.

So, after the pace team got their group picture taken, the National Anthem was sung, the lines were formed, and the race was soon to begin. That in itself was an understatement. Before we knew it, the race was starting and the runners were off. Before I could even set my watch to go, I was thankful Jeff had his Garmin ready. About a split second after I crossed the starting line, I saw the RD announce the pacers were in full force taking off and getting the groups going. The crowd at the starting line was very supportive, cheerful, and even encouraging. For a smaller venue sized race, this one tops some of the big ones I've done in my career. Jeff and I were settling well into the 11:21 pace we needed to keep for the 2:30 group, which for me as I found out later on this course was just the right tempo for me with all the hills and wind I later endured. As we were getting to know one another, Jeff's gf Heather had mentioned this being her first half, and that her training wasn't quite up to par as she had wanted it to be. The most she had ran was a one time 10 miler and then other short distances as well. Not only that, she had some lingering injuries as well, so she felt a little nervous about this race. I told to just stick by us and we will coast her in. Not only that, there were a few other runners that stuck with us for a good portion of the race that were feeding off each other's energy, including mine. It was a great comraderie for Jeff and myself as we were pacing the group.

Miles 1-4

In running half marathons, I myself call the first 4 miles my "warmup phase". Back when I PR'd my 2 half, I used this approach and it paid off in the end. Different story today since I was pacing. Not only that, this course had a a lot of H I L L S. Even though I was still warming up, I was getting a fill for how the course was set out. The first couple of miles were relatively flat until mile 2.5 going into 3 and just shy of 4. One of the things I loved about pacing today, was I felt a little bit like a tour guide. As we passed up some beautifully structured homes and nice looking land features, I personally was taken in by it. So to keep the other runners enthused, I made light of the run and cracked some jokes about these "mansions" belonging to rockstars, Jeff even chimed in and made some jokes as well. After the 5k mark, per Jeff's Garmin, I hollered out the the group, by then was a handful of women and one other dude that we've hit the 3.1 miles and that we got 10 more to go. The one guy in the group was slowly inching his was past us and kindly thanked us for keeping the pace. That and later he would need us as he was tiring down. I told him, that's what we're here for.

Miles 5-8

While the group Jeff and I were pacing was winding down, it was mainly just me, him, and Heather running together, and keeping her occupied with the run. As I mentioned before, this was her first half, so her mechanisms were unsorted at the time. She had asked me prior to the race starting if it was ok to walk part of the run if needed. I told that I've done it before and that there is nothing to be embarrassed about it. She had said that she wasn't going to do that and if she had to, she could shuffle step. I reassurred her that this was common in most long distant races such as this. By mile 6, Heather was beginning to struggle with her foot as she had her toe wrapped up and that it was bothering her foot. After the one and only split mark in the race has occured, Heather had to stop and readjust. Jeff took the initiative to stop and help her out. It didn't seem like it took long for them to reset, but by mile 7.5 going into 8, they were right back in the race just booking along. For the brief stint I was pacing by myself, I had a chance to chat with one lady runner who had said that this was her 35th half marathon she has ran. I humbly told her that she's got me beat by 30, and that I admired her talent for running that many races. This I have to say was the 2nd toughest part of the race. This was where the biggest portion of the hills had occurred. The wind for the most part was going in and out, depending on the direction we were going. Still again, for that part of the race, it had come down to just me, Jeff, and Heather just chit chatting about the race, our lives, family, etc.. Great conversation guys!!

Miles 9-13.1 (finish)

As we we're coming up the same hill we had gone down on from mile 4, we were basically looping it back to finishline. At that point, I starting struggling with my gait, and maintaining form. My haunted battle injury from past races came back with a vengence as my IT Band reared it's ugly head. I yelled out to Jeff to take the pace flag and take off so I could stretch out my leg/knee. He told to stretch and hold for 30 seconds and I would be fine. Sound advice well taken. After shrugging it off and climbing that big hill the WIND at my face, I was able to catch up to them at around the 15k (9.3 mile) mark. At that point, what comes down, must come up. Yes, that happened in this case as we climbed some hills heading back to the finishline. Unfortunately, that triggered my IT band to roll or mess up again. Stopped and stretched one more time and then I jogged to catch up with Jeff and Heather as they took off. I was able to catch up with them at mile 11.5ish going into 12. I told Jeff that I had a job to do, and I was not going to sit out on it. That same stretch, thank God was flat, but it wasn't easy to maintain much less gain speed. This race was a definite make you or break you kind of course. If the hills didn't get you, the wind surely did. The thing that motivated me to catch up to Jeff and Heather was the fact that I was indeed a pacer and that I had runners counting on me to help them. I was no use to them if I couldn't do my duty. That alone fueled me to ignore the pain in my leg, which by then had surprisingly subsided and also ignore that crazy head wind that could've easily knocked anybody over.

Once I caught up to Jeff, he had encouraged me greatly by calling me "Timmaay" and getting me to keep pushing. I told him, I was gonna run this time in with him cuz we were the pacers and we finish together. As we reached the cutoff to the finishline, he said that we had less than 2 minutes to hit our pace time and that we needed to gut this out. Talk about motivation, he grabbed a piece of the pace flag, and so did I as we paced step for step into the finishline with an exact 2:30 finish.

After we crossed, I felt a great since of pride in this race not only accomplishing yet another half marathon finish, but the pride I felt in overcoming an obstacle on the course and catching back up. Mostly the pride I felt in being a pacer.

After I got my finishers medal, pics, and snack stuff, I mingled with the other pacers and runners. High 5's all around, and just a great feeling of having a great race today, overall. Despite the hills we climbed, the wind we dealt with, and even a slight injury that slowed me down for a what seemed like a brief moment, I couldn't have asked for a better race to run. I definitely walked away with a greater appreciation for running hills.

I was greatful for the friends I have met along the way that were at this race, it was a blessing of a reunion, and after today, some new friends I was happy to have made. Words can not truly express of how grateful I was for this race. Can't wait to do this again.

Me with my pace flag, and medal. Sorry it got cut off
The pace team. See if you can find me..
From right to left. Me, Clay, Jeff, Heather, and Rick (another awesome pacer)
Here's a closeup of the bling. Big isn't it?
Back to the routine of this running thing. I think I've found my calling in the sport. I loved pacing today. It was nice to take a step back and remember where I had started from way back when. It was great seeing runners set PRs and running their first halfs today and knowing we as pacers helped them achieve their respective accomplishments. More to come on May 5, when I pace the 2:20 group at the Heels and Hills half marathon.... To be continued
Stay awesome frunners.....

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Cowtown Marathon 2013

Race Report:

Must start at the very beginning of the weekend when Stacie and I attended the marathon expo at the Will Rogers Memorial Museum. Putzed around, got my race packet, bought some stuff, and back home we came. I had wanted to sign up for the challenge that Cowtown offers, but this was the last year of the 5 year challenge that started in 2009. Ooops.. big messup with the communication from the staff, so I wound with a plaque to only place one medal in it. So, I'm now in the process of turning it back in and starting over with the new challenge beginning next year and ending in 2016. I've already seen a preview of what the bling(s) and plaque will look like, and I like it. Can't wait to run this challenge again.

Like I said, we didn't really stay long for the expo, just long enough to get my packet and buy a few things. Gu, bumper stickers, you know, basic stuff..

Me driving us to the expo. I figured since this was western style setting kinda of run, I thought I'd break out the old lid and rock it for the day.
When in Texas.....
Me standing outside the expo stand. Yes, to my Houston peeps, I'm wearing a Bucee's shirt
Cowboy Up!!

Stacie next to the Cowgirl hall of fame statue
I may be a city slicker for the most part, but deep down, I am a Texan, and I do have some country/cowboy in me. I've ridden a horse or two in my day, and I've worked a ranch before. Good times
Me and Stacie out by the water fountain by the museum

And here we are striking poses!!
and now...
Race Day!
After all of the training, tapering, and even carb loading, I felt deep down that I was confident in the way I was going to handle this marathon. Surprisingly, I was able to get to bed early enough on Saturday night at around 8:30, thanks to a benadryl and a hot shower to help me relax. I got up at 4am sharp, because I had told Stacie that I wanted to go to the Sunrise service that the Cowtown peeps had organized. I got up, let the dogs out, fed them, the usual with them. After all of our morning routines in the past and after getting ready for races in the past, we were able to get going by 5am. Traffic heading into Fort Worth, Texas was should I say, easy... Compared to all of the times I have driven out to Dallas for races out there, this was a much better, less stressful kind of morning getting to the race. I love Fort Worth!! I was able to get FREE parking at the Farrington Field parking lot, which was across the street from the Will Rogers Plaza where the race was held. Stacie and I felt somewhat spoiled by that. Crossed the street and over to the Round up inn room for the Sunrise service. There, I met up with some dailymile friends, Barbi and Darrell. My other DM friend Gary, was onstage leading worship with the Redeemer Church and Travis Avenue Baptist church as put on one great morning of worship and music....Awesome. Great words of encouragement as I meditated on what got me to this point and how God has shown me how great he is. Mostly, how I have learned throughout my training how I have to sometimes "persevere" and go beyond my own limits, as in my comfort zone when it comes to just my ordinary training. My other favorite word was used during the service, and that was "endurance", same thing as perseverance... which I just happen to have Hebrews 12:1 tattooed on my right calf... Let us RUN with perseverance the race marked for us... I got that tattoo two years ago when I PR'd in my 2nd half marathon by 20 minutes. It has been my go to verse, not just in running, but in life.
I confess, lately, I have been struggling with my own personal faith, and it has spilled over into my everyday life. Maybe even in my training. I do know one thing, I can be forgiven as I strengthen my relationship with God, and his son Jesus Christ.
Sunrise service!! There's Gary up on stage playing the guitar

Left pic, me and Barbi, and me and Gary on the right. I didn't get a chance to get a pic with Darrell, Barbi's running buddy, but he's an awesome runner as well and finished the half in 2:40. This run, in fact was Barbi's first half marathon to date, so she was a little nervouse about it. Through encouragement from myself and other DM friends along the way, Barbi made it with a stellar 2:56, and Gary completed the full marathon with a new PR in 4:06. Wtg guys

Once sunrise let out, I was waiting out by the area where the expo was held, trying to get a spot in line for the restroom. My morning concoction of a banana, gatorade, and a hot tea was kicking in. While waiting, my boy Clay aka, "The Nite Train" showed up and we said our hellos and chatted for a bit. He was nervous as he was in full pursuit of that sub 4 hour marathon. He made it in 4:30, and he was a little discouraged. He still did a great job running his 3rd marathon. Someday, Nite Train, you'll hit the streets of Boston.. I have faith in that, my friend.

Timmaay and the Nite Train roll again
I didn't want to wait forever for the line to use the restroom indoors, so I settled for the porta potty outside. Before heading out the door, I ran into another DM couple, Mike aka "America Mike" and his wife Kathleen. They are inspiring, as Kathleen herself has made it a mission to run a half marathon every month for the entire year of her current age. She's rocking it 13.1 miles at a time. Once I was done handling business in the porta john, the gun had gone off for the elites and fasties to take off first. I was in corral 4, so it took a while for the group I was with to take off. Not to panic, I had plenty of time to get to my corral and start. One thing I love about Cowtown compared to White Rock, the lines went through a lot easier and not so much of a push and shove. I got to my corral and gave Stacie a smooch and was inching my way to the starting line. Just my luck, I ran into yet another DM couple that I met a couple of years ago at another race I did. I heard my name being called out and it was Chris B. and his wife Anne. Same Chris that I've ran into at just about every race since last year, and the same Chris that is training for Western States. I met this great couple back in Labor Day of 2011. Another inspiring couple as well. I have to say, yesterday's race was a blessing being able to meet a lot of DM friends, some I've grown to know as my second family.
Here I am in the corral as we were moving forward. There's me in the doorag and shades. Chris is standing in front of me while Anne is off to my left in the light blue top.
My last pose and time I saw Stacie before I took off for the run. Felt good, and was ready to roll
and now, I'm off
As my corral finally got up close to start and was going, I felt cool, calm, and relaxed about this race. The fact that I was running a marathon was in the back of my mind, and that I could do this. I kept the strategy simple: Start out slow, and work my way up to a comfortable speed and then slow it back down towards the end, gain my second wind, and finish strong. No matter the distance, that's how I've always trained for every race. Given that it was a marathon, I wanted to stay at a comfortable pace, then gradually hit those negative splits. So, to start, I had chatted with Chris and Anne, then we all wished each other luck and went our own ways. Anne nailed a sub 2 in the half, and Chris nailed a 4:30 something in the 50k. Wtg Barnwell's. As they took off, I was in my own little zone until I came behind yet my other DM brother, Bal aka MoFo. As we always do in races, I gave him a smack on his butt, and he hollered out "wooohh" and then returned the favor. We had a good chat, then I took off as he stopped for his walk session of his run. Bal's training has paid off as he set another PR in 2:41 in the half. Wtg Mofo...
I was still running comfortably in my warming up phase, I met up with a gentlman named Ken, who was the 4:55 pace leader. My thought was to stay with him for a couple of miles, then take off as I felt the urge to. After a couple of miles and a series of hills, I felt warmed up enough to take off and go a little. My first split was at the 5k mark. I made it there by 34:14 (11:01 pace). To me, I felt like I was warming up, and my legs were adapting to the hills, and even some speed. By then, I was about 5 to 10 minutes ahead of Ken and was feeling comfortable with my pace and time. My goal was a 4:40-45 finish. Given the pace I was at, I was predicted at having a solid 4:50 finish. With that in my favor, I thought it was paying off for me to gradually step my game up and pick up speed. Sure enough, it slowly did as my next split was at the 10k mark where I reached it at 1:06:39 (10:43 pace). I felt good with that pace as I was passing people up and wasn't being passed in return. At mile just as the course was leading into the stockyards, I witnessed the first fall of the day. An older gentleman tripped himself up and hit the pavement face first. He suffered a busted forehead. Me and a couple of other runners helped him up and flagged a police officer down to bring in a medic. He was able to rest in a nearby SUV who's driver had the back gate open and he could sit there while he was putting ice on his head. He assured that he was fine. I was so close to withdrawing my race just to make sure he did do any serious damage. He told me he was fine and that I needed to go, so I did. As I took off, I met up with a lady who witnessed it as well and asked me if he was ok. I told her he was fine and she herself almost tripped over a pot hole in the road. I reached my arm out to grab her, and she regained her balance. We chatted and off we went. She paced with me until she gained her pace back and pretty much flew through the stock yards.
Right after the stock yards was the first big hill, which was a bridge. It was over by the Stock yards, and I can't remember the name of the bridge or street, but it lead into downtown Fort Worth, and over to LaGrave field, home of the Ft Worth Cats. That bridge lead was mile mark 9 going into 10. At that point, my left started to bother me. For once, it wasn't my PF, but the top of my foot. I was happy with my time as I was pacing at around 10:30-11, and climbed yet another hill. For the most part, the Cowtown course was flat. Some hills, but not as hilly as some of the races I've done in Dallas. Just before mile 10,  as we were going into downtown and taking that scenic tour, I witnessed yet another falling in the course. That person was yours truly, as I was trucking along, I didn't see that huge orange cane standing right in front of me. So, we collided and I fell over an slide a couple of feet. I think my hands were the first to catch myself on the ground and thought I had scraped them. Lucky for me, it was on the smoothest part of the pavement that I fell on. I just happened to be next to a DJ stand as he yell out on his mic "man down, man down".. Needless to say, I was a little embarrassed about it. Thank you to the kind runners that helped me back up. Surprisingly, with just the feeling of my hands being on fire, I was able to bounce right back and run at the pace I was going. Around the next corner leading to the Fort Worth Convention center, the Half Marathon runners split off from the Marathon and Ultra runners. On my way to the split, I hollered out to the half marathoners "good luck halfies, this is your race"! One runner high 5ed me and wish the full and ultras good luck as well.
Going into mile 11, I was clocked at 1:57, based off my watch, so a 10:30, almost 11 minute pace was just right for me. Mile 12 was a bit of a blur as the runners out on the course was thinning out some. I realized I was running in the back of the pack, which I didn't have a problem with, I was just blessed to be running yet another marathon, and I was feeling confident that I was going to get a PR one way or another. My next split was at the half marathon (mile 13.1) mark at 2:19:38 (10:39 pace). I say in all confidence, not bragging, but the first half of the race felt easy. Not that I'm being over confident, or cocky, but I can run a half marathon given a certain time frame, and without hesitation. Since my next big race is a half marathon, and I will be one of the 2:20 pacers, I wanted to alse get a feel for how I could pace my group in may. To me, it was a success. The next 7 miles, were yet another blur to me. Most of it was flat, and by then the course went from going through downtown Fort Worth and into the suburbs. I do recall at around mile 19, my left leg was feeling uncomfortable. I couldn't tell if it was a cramp, or if my IT band was acting up, I had to stop and stretch for a brief moment. I felt a little discomfort in my left hamstring when I tried to stretch it. I had made it to another area just before mile 20 and asked where the nearest medical tent was to see about my leg. Not only was my leg bothering me, but so was my foot from when I was had that difficulty at mile 9. Stupid me ignored the pain and kept moving. I regretted that decision, because at that point, I was walk, jog, hobble mode. I also couldn't tell if it was the PF or my feet being sore from breaking into my new shoes I got recently. All of that showed in my next split at mile 20, which was the last split before the finishline. I made it there in 3:44:18 with an 11:13 pace. Ok, so a 4:55 finish would still give me a PR. Just my luck, Ken, the 4:55 pacer passed me up, and I felt discouraged from that point on. As much I wanted to run, my left leg was not cooperating.
I'm almost convinced that it was the dreaded WALL I had hit, I don't really know. I do know that I had a race to finish, and I was not about to quit. From that mile mark up to mile 25, I did the walk, jog, hobble mix up. I got to 25 and was ever so thankful to find a medical tent and asked on the nurses to wrap my foot up. By then, I was feeling my left foot on fire, moreso than my right. So I got it wrapped to relieve some of the inflammation, and help with my form some. Lucky for me it did. I had 1.2 miles to and was ready to cross the finish line. I didn't want stop for nothing. By then, I was having trouble getting oxygen into my body and my chest felt congested. So I did the marathon shuffle. I knew where I was at as I was along the trinity trails, seeing the back side of the Will Rogers facility and mile mark "26". I got the encouragement from spectators and other runners that had finished cheering me and the other runners on that the finishline is just around the corner, and not to quit. I made that last right turn and saw the finishline in my sights. So, I had it in me like every runner does, and that was to gun it towards the finish. That I did. I heard a runner ahead me get her name called out that she was from Bedford, Tx (same town I live in), and then as I crossed I heard my name.
After that, I don't remember much except seeing a medic and collapsing before I could get to her. It was a mixture of being emotionally spent from the race, and also my left knee going out from under me. I got helped up by two other medics as one was saying to just keep my legs moving. I was telling them to get my wife because she was on the left of the finish post waiting for me. They said they would get her. Just before the medics moved me to the medical area, I stopped and got my finishers pic, and medal. Made it to the medical area, gave them my name and information, symptoms, etc. I was trying to spell my last out to them, and low and behold, a church friend of mine, Melanie who is a nurse for UNTHSC, which is the group the Cowtown Marathon does charity for. She was able to assist better because she knew me. They quickly got me to a bed, and I told her to call Stacie and get her to the medic area. As they got my vital signs, they were also getting fluids in me and assessing the damage. I told them I had felt a little lightheaded and my left leg from the knee down was sore. I explained to them that I felt it give out as I crossed the line.
After I gained my bearings, Stacie had made it over to my bed, and greeted me with a hug and asked if I was ok. I told her I was fine and that I had gotten a little dizzy and that my leg gave out. I continued to rest some more and get more fluids in me, then a medic noticed that I got the wrong medal. They gave me a half marathon finishers medal before I got my pic taken. Oops. So, they went and got a correct medal. I was offered an IV bag, and I refused it because I felt fine enough to walk and move around, and that I wasn't running anymore. Afterwards, I went through the refreshment area, loaded up on some chocolate milk and a banana. No beer this time because I couldn't find any and to be honest, I didn't really want any. From there, Stacie and I made it to the staging area where the runners reunite with there families. Just my luck, I ran into Chris and Anne again and sat for a bit. I also ran into another DM friend Joshua, another beast of a runner. He nailed a respectable time at the Rocky Raccoon 100 miler a few weeks ago to come to Cowtown and run the 50k. Ultra runners, mad love guys, yall are awesome. Stacie took my bib and went over to the tables and got me my finishers tee, and I love it. I even slept in it last night. LOL
Me and Chris. And I'm rocking the finishers tee.

Me and the "bite" on my bling.. Yes the full marathon finishers bling

Me and Stacie....and the bling
My finish time was 5:20:38 with a 12:12 pace. Given that it was my second marathon, and that I didn't finish in the time I wanted, I am pleased with the fact that knowing if my mechanics hadn't failed on me, I would have finished in a much better time. I know deep down I could have done it. To prove it, I plan on running this race next year, because I really liked this course, the people, and everyone who volunteered and worked tirelessly at setting this up. I said to myself last night as I was having dinner with my wife and mom, that I will probably settle for just doing half marathons and 10ks from now on. Since the warm weather season is coming back, that will be feasible for me, and I don't have a problem with that. I still like to run the longest distances I possibly can, and will not give up on running full marathons. I feel a lot stronger in this race than I did when I ran my first marathon. Amazing what a year off from being injured can do to a runners spirit as they learn from it. My next race is the Heels and Hills half marathon, and I like I said before, I'll be pacing the 2:20 group. Lots of fun to be had that day.
This is been a great journey yet again. I can't wait to turn the page of yet another chapter.

Just a token of what happened when I fell over that cone that came out of nowhere.
And last the tat. My go to verse before every big race.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Pre race stuff. Or, something like that

I've been meaning to post a blog since New Year's Eve. It seems that everyone jumped on the bandwagon and blogged about how good or bad 2012 was for them. Sorry for being late on that, but believe it or not, I had intended to do the same until my computer crashed halfway through my post I was writing and I lost everything I wrote. As semi-buzzed as I was, I was in no mood to restart the damn thing.

In short, 2012 sucked, and I'm so glad it's over. It sucked in my personal day to day life, and even so in my running activities. Somewhere in the mix, those two lives crossed paths and I ended up feeling 20 pounds heavier, more depressed, and most of all, a failure. My resolution was to stop making excuses and just do I did!!

So far, 2013 has been a complete opposite, and I say that with all humbled-ness. January was good to me in the since that I ran my latest PR of 160 miles for the month, beating out my old record of 146 in October of 2011. I've worked up a mixture of combined training plans that adapted well for me. I mixed a bit of how Jeff Galloway's training works for marathon runners, along with some of Hal Higdon's plan. I started out with a base line of 7 miles a day M-Th, rest Friday, and a long run (12 miles and up) on Saturdays. Then as an option, a short 3 mile "recovery" run on Sundays. Overall, the schedule was a success. Not so much for the distance, but for my overall fitness, I wasn't as tired as I was before. I even added speed runs, and doubles on Thursdays, and was excited seeing 40 plus miles on a consistent basis each week. As a footnote, 3 days a week, I've spent time in the gym doing strength training. In the past when I trained for previous races, I hardly ever saw the gym. I made that change. I have to say, it's helped.....quite a bit.

February has been a good month as well. I'm excited about the fact that a week from today, I will embark on yet another 26.2 outing. This time, instead of Dallas, it's on the streets of Ft. Worth, TX at the Cowtown Marathon. I did the 10k run back in 2011, and I loved it. I'm very excited to take this challenge on. I'm also happy to say, that I feel 10x healthier about this race than I did when I ran my first marathon in December of 2011. I had mentioned above that I had gained 20 pounds over the past year, well, I've lost 18 of them. So for now, I am satisfied with the way my training, eating, and overall health is going.

Here's me on Christmas Day chowing on a cinnamon roll as my wonder pooch, Corkie is looking on. Desperately hoping I would drop a crumb or a piece for her. My weight was in the 240's for sure

At my last weigh in, and busting out 18 miles that weekend, I am back down to 222. Not where I want to be, but I am doing the slow and steady approach as my weight is coming off, and staying off.
One thing I've discovered in the world of fitness, is that we are all creatures of habits and mistakes are easy to make. I, once again would like to thank my awesome wife, Stacie for showing me this as she struggled as well this past year. I would post pics of her recent transformation, but she will not give me any pics to share. Totally respect that. I will say, I am 100% proud of her as she herself has lost 16 lbs since January 4. That day, she met up with my PT coach, and has been trained by him ever since. She has also taken up running as a way of working out. Pretty much like I did. Excited as well for the fact that we as a couple are doing a race together in April. The Color Run 5k on Saturday, April 6. She started with the couch to 5k program, and is now up to running a mile at a time without stopping. I smile everytime she posts on facebook about her recent successes with this great sport. I'm always taken back to when and how I first got started in this great sport.
I really meant to post this blog about the ultimate highs I have felt so far this year, I almost don't want to spoil it. Other than to say that I am happy with the ways things are going for me. Not just me, but my wife, friends, and family. 2013 is rocking hard so far, and I don't want it to end. For all of my DailyMile friends that are running Cowtown next weekend, I'll cya there. Look for a goofy guy in a cowboy hat.