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..