Monday, February 16, 2009

Austin Half-Marathon Race Report

The weather in Austin yesterday was perfect for running a marathon; somewhat cloudy to start, 51-degrees, humidity in the 50% range and wind maybe at 1-2 mph. The sun was forecasted to later pop it's head out around 9:00 a.m. and the clouds would give way to a very sunny day. Perfect for sitting on the curb after the race, eating a few bananas and swilling it down with a Mountain Blast Powerade or two.

But even though the stars had aligned for perfect weather, my astrological sign stars haven't come together in any coherent way. They haven't been in any sort of alignment for over seven weeks which is mainly due to the retrograde we're in now.

"In general, Mercury rules thinking and perception, processing and disseminating information and all means of communication, commerce, education and transportation."

Let's see. Thinking and perception? Yes, I've felt very wonky since the new year. Processing and disseminating information? Yes, my Twitters have gone completely bananas. How could anyone think they could follow tweets of 150 people and still get anything done? Commmerce? Yes, money has been pouring out my accounts like bonuses to Wall Street bankers the last two weeks. Education? Don't know on that one but transportation includes pedestrian traffic and running is nothing more than a fast pedestrian. And the tendonitis reached it's peak of pain during this time. And, and the car needed work and is having trouble starting.

Seven weeks was the last time I ran so this race was going to be a test. First, there was no other goal than to finish for me. But I was running with someone who did have a goal. To get the half-marathon done in under two hours. Right from the start our goals were in conflict. I hadn't run in seven weeks but had done elliptical and cycling workouts but even those consisted of 30-minute intervals. Interesting experiment, on my part, with what could happen physiologically.

The first two miles of the course were uphill and I had planned on 20-minute miles to start. We would zig-zag between people during that time. Everything was on schedule except for the three-minute potty break. Already three minutes down didn't play into the other runner's plans but it did wonders for mine. I felt lighter and much more refreshed. Going uphill from the porto-potty for the next mile threw us off the goal time by another 20 seconds. Go down through mile three to mile six we sped up quite a bit picking up 20 seconds per mile and as much as 40 seconds on one mile getting the pace down to 8:30 or 8:15.

By the time we got to the 6.25 mile mark we had been running for an hour. Looking at my heart rate I noticed it hadn't come down by much since the start so I told L that she would have to go ahead if she wanted to make her goal. There wasn't much left in my heart rate to speed up for the remainder of the race. She strapped on her iPod and zoomed off. It turns out she finished a hair just over the two-hour mark. If it hadn't been for the potty break she would've reached her goal.

My goal was fine. I came in hundreds more hairs past the two-hour mark with some cramping. The plantar fasciitis and tendonitis troubles from the past six months were there but much less noticeable since replacing all of my freebie shoes with three pairs of New Balance in the last two weeks. More noticeable than foot pain which went away after the third mile was tendon discomfort in the joints of my ankles and knees and hips. I think they just weren't used to the pounding. Both the elliptical and the stationary bike training had a very low pounding factor.

The soreness will go away in another day or two. If I had been on the sideline watching everyone run in perfect conditions I would've been upset so it was better to run with issues and see what could happen than not run at all. The race coordination of Conley Sports and the marathon team was outstanding. Mucho kudos to them all and to all of my co-workers who worked tirelessly to get 79 athletes feeling better in the medical tent after the race.

After a couple of days of rest it'll be time to switch hats to triathlon. In the next couple of weeks I'll be looking for a new tri-frame and a new road or cross frame so lots of wrenching happening for me which I love. I think I love wrenching more than I like riding. Maybe it's that I like wrenching more than riding 80 miles but I love riding and then drinking Micheladas with other biker dudes while talking about wrenching. This will all make sense after this retrograde ends in the next week and my stars get back into alignment.

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