31 January 2013

Special delivery

Nothing but silliness today.  Work's kicking my butt and I am busier than a one armed paperhanger with an itch.  

27 January 2013

Best laid plans...

Had a quiet weekend planned (operative word being quiet).  Work on a few house projects, fix a drawer, clean out the closet, pack a few things away in the trailer, get a gift for my mom's birthday next weekend, put away the Christmas lights, go to the auto show.  But, one should never get too comfortable with life - it is always full of twists and turns.  

Got the call yesterday morning from Christine.  Asking for a favor.  Something about needing a transportation.  Seems that there was this OTI down in Port Lavaca that needed a ride to Houston and, since I live on the southwest part of town, I was closest, would I be up to going after her?  Sure.  Why not?  Nothing I had planned was cast in stone.  So, I gassed up the truck and headed south.     

An hour and a half later, met up with the nice couple in the Jack in the Box parking lot on the outskirts of El Campo.  After a brief introduction, paperwork was exchanged, the package was transferred, and I headed back north to Houston with my cargo.  Nice day for a drive in the country, especially now that I picked up some company.  Not much on conversation, but she was good company for the ride.   

Figured it out, yet? 











Ladies and Gentlemen, please allow me to introduce Haley.    

That's some stamp licker
Pure Golden. She's just a whisker over one year old (definitely a puppy).  Typical Golden puppy - full of energy, very curious, clingy, loving.  Has a tongue and knows how to use it.    

I call shotgun!
Now, before everyone starts adding up the numbers, she was only a temporary dog.  She was set to go to another foster family across town for the weekend until they can get her into the vet for a checkup.  I was just the transporter.  And it is a darned good thing that this was a temporary gig.  Given her looks and demeanor, she might have wound up staying with us if we did fostered her (we're 0-2 on foster dogs).  Owner Turn In, obviously well cared for, great manners, some training, groomed, and has the whitest teeth I have ever seen.  Took her by my parents house on the way home to just show her off.  The real test was to bring her home to how she does with my two mutts.  A bit shy/timid at first (mine can be a tad overwhelming), but eventually she opened up and began to explore.  All three got along well.  Definitely not an alpha dog.  A great, high energy dog that would be good for a family with older kids.  Delivered her to her new temporary home by 1800.  

So, for a brief time yesterday, the pack grew by one.  

22 January 2013

Motivation - 5 years later

Some of the motivational themes I uncovered from last weekend's race:  
  • Either you RUN the day or the day RUNS you.
  • There will be days I don't know if I can do a Half-Marathon. There will be a lifetime knowing I have. 
  • I do not run to add days to my life... add life to my days. 
  • I took the road less traveled by, now where the heck am I?
  • Being a mom is like running a marathon. Every. Single. Freaking. Day.
Ok, so the last one doesn't really apply to me but I thought it struck a cord.    

Time to wrap up this theme.  I'm quite sure ya'll are tied of hearing about last week's jog (I am) and would really rather hear more about the dogs or car shopping or the squirrel in my attic or my latest Netflix movie so I am going to wrap up this meme.

I don't want to bore you guys with all the little details about my run last weekend, but, for some reason, ShadowRun300 is seeking some of my advice about running a half marathon.  I am truly humbled.  So, SR300, this one's for you.  First of all, I am not a serious runner.  In my book, I am still holding my amateur status.  I eat the wrong stuff, drink too much, don’t run as much as I ought to and my training is, to put it mildly, is sloppy.  The mere fact I have stumbled my way through 5 half-marathons just goes to show that, if I can do it, anyone can.  I've learned the system, how to prepare, how to run a half-marathon and walk away with out a limp. 

For the past 5 years, I signed up for this gig in the summer with all sorts of enthusiasm.  And each passing year, around Thanksgiving, I come to question why I keep doing this.  Too old, knees hurt too much, not in shape, work interferes, no time to train, not serious about the run.  All good reasons to bail on the whole deal, but somehow I keep coming back for another round.  ShadowRun, to me, the key to doing this gig is motivation.  All the training in the world won't matter anything if you don't have the right motivation.  From your training runs so far, I have no doubt that you will breeze through the 13.1 mile course with no problem.  Although, I hear "the Hill" is a real bear.  I am expecting to see a sub 8:00 pace.  Good luck and good running.   

Somewhere around mile 10, I was starting to question my resolve.  That's when I gently remind myself why the hell I am doing this in the first place.  After all, it has ONLY been  5 years since since I became "new & improved".  

Yep.  It's that time of the year again when I climb up on my soap box and become a spokesperson for Prostate Cancer awareness.  5 years ago today, I was donning that stylish backless hospital gown and getting ready for my procedure.  Several hours later, I came out on the other side  nauseated from the anesthetics, sporting a wicked scar, and prostate free.   Prostate cancer is one the leading causes of death for men just as Breast cancer is with women.  Annual statistics say that over 280,000 men are diagnosed with Prostate cancer each year.  A simple, precautionary PSA test can save you a world of grief.  As I have said before, this crap is preventable, if you catch it early enough.  The point is, if you have a set of cojones (or know of someone who does), get checked out.  I can attest it is a fairly easy, relatively painless, simple (blood test).  A little prick is a small price to pay to be aware.  Guys avoid it sometimes because of the discomfort of getting a package check.  Embarrassing?  Get over it.  I am too old to GAS anymore and proof that, if you catch it early, you can beat it.  So, if you are a guy skirting 50, if you know of a guy over 50, if your brother/dad/son are getting on in years, please insist  demand/nag/plead to get checked out.  Life’s way too short to gamble with your health.  I am a testament to the fact it does not have to be a fatal diagnosis.  I got checked out, dealt with it and I am still here after 5 years enjoying good beer and fine scotch and life in general and I am not making plans to go anywhere just yet.  Ok. I am getting down off the soapbox now.  

16 January 2013

As seen on TV

Oops.  My bad.  I sometimes mention/recommend a few of things on my humble little site and I may refer to them how someone initially referred them to me.  I talked up my rain gear as "speed shell" but that's not the official name.  The correct name of gear is Sheddable Shell.  This is rain gear that is designed to be lightweight, breathable, and disposable.  Really good for those early morning pre-race starts when you are shivering waiting for the starting gun.  I've only seen it at the Marathon Expo and bought the jacket a few years back when it looked like rain but never used it.  This year I bought the pants as well but didn't use them (should have). 

At the Marathon Health Expo, there are lots of things you can blow your money on invest in that are supposed to make you faster, feel better, last longer, look sharp.  I've picked up a few things form the expo over the past few years.  Some good, some meh.  
  • Typically, I get new running shirts/shorts (prices are cheap).  
  • Performance socks one year.  
  • Arm warmers last year (really helped!).  
  • A new pair of shooz this year (ASIC GEL-Nimbus)   
  • Running hat - lightweight hat
  • This year I got some RockTape – kinesiology tape that athletes use to tape joints/muscles from injury.  Sort of flexible duct tape for the body.  I had my knees taped this year at the expo and it really seemed to help!    
  • RockTape
  • My first year I got a Spibelt – a small neoprene belt/pouch that will hold all sorts of stuff like car keys, id cards, cell phone, energy gel packs, band aids, meds.  I don’t really like carrying a lot of gear when I run (not into the sport utility batman-like belt), so this is really perfect for my style of running.  Made by a small company out of Austin and I've been using it for all my runs for years.  
Product Image

New shooz!

15 January 2013

Drying out

Well, I woke up alive and that's a start.

Actually, this year I am feeling a lot better post race than I have in the past.  Usually, it is slow and painful to get up the next few days but I am only feeling a few aches in my knees and lower back.  Getting around is ok.  The only hard part is when I set for extended periods of time (like at the office) getting up is a chore.  2011's run was in the rain as well and I was pretty waterlogged by the end.  By 5 pm that evening, I was knee deep into a major cold that hung around for two weeks.  First time I didn't go into work after the run.  This time I did ok with the rain and haven't gotten the zombie flu (yet).  I attribute that to either 1) conditioning (hah!), or 2) wearing layers/rain gear, or 3) preventive med loading (Zicam), or 4) dumb luck.  Regardless, I am feeling well enough to knock out another 3-4 mile run today.

Speaking of layers, the rain gear did help somewhat.  Wore my speed shell - a disposable jacket that has tear away sleeves.  Bought it a few years back but never used it until Sunday.  I also had rain pants but chose not to use them - went with wind pants instead.  Found out in the first mile the difference between waterproof and water resistant.  My waterproof socks weren't exactly dry but they did wick away the water so my feet didn't have any problems.  Besides, when you run through large puddles, there's not much that will keep the water out.  Even my shoes are still damp.  I am still trying to gather up some pictures of the run/runners.  Lots of color, lots of trash bag runners.  If you want to see some of the action, just go over to Flicker under 2013 Houston Marathon.    

All told, it was a good, if not wet run.  

13 January 2013

1 Corinthians 9:26

5th time's a charm.  Despite the rain, the wind (20 mph gusts), and the cold (41 at start), I successfully navigated the streets of Houston and crossed the finish line under my own power.  A really nasty run.  Windy and cold at the start and, just when they fired the starting canon, it started pouring.  Rained hard on us for the first 1/3rd of the course, then let up for a while only come come back harder on the second half of the course.  I was warm, if not soaked.  I dressed in layers with an inner shirt, some arm warmers and gloves.  No ear muffs, just a hat to keep the rain out of my face.  Wore my disposable rain jacket for the entire race.  Was going to ditch it like a lot of people did along the course but it cut the wind and the rain came back out past mile 7.  A lot of the elite runners were running in singlets and shorts.  Made me cold just looking at them.      

So, in spite of these challenges, how'd I do?  While I didn't bring home any trophies, and I didn't train as much as intended, I was happy with my final time.  2:21.55  Tied for PR.  I may not be as fast as some of you serious runners, but not too bad for an old fat man.  Typical run for me - started out with a 9:50 pace and lost steam on the back half and wound up with an overall 10:50 pace.  Would have like to pull a 10:00, but I'll live with it.  Maybe next year?  Not sure if I am going for number 6.  My legs and I are not on speaking terms right now.  I'm feeling every bit of 55 right now (sore & stiff), but otherwise ok.  The real test will be how I wake up tomorrow.  

It's all about the shirt

Temporary tat
Now, let me say that I am not a very biblical guy.  I could never quote scripture from the bible verbatim.  So what's with 1 Corinthians 9:26?  When running that distance, you tend to look for distractions (I do) to take your mind off the course or the rain or the cold.  Listen to music.  Read the road signs for encouragement.  Listen to the different bands.  Throughout the race, I try to find someone close to my same pace.  I would match pace with someone only to have them slowly pull away.  There was one young lady who held the same pace as I throughout the entire race.  We must have passed each other at least a dozen times along the course.  Normally, I don't pay attention to my fellow runners (too much into my own world) but this woman had this particular passage stenciled on her running pants on her backside and, every time she passed me I would see it again.  They say if you see or repeat something three times, it gets stuck in your head and this one did.   When I got home after the race, I had to Google it just to see what I was reading for 13.1 miles.  

12 January 2013

No turning back now

Got my packet.  Got my bling.  A few hours from now I will be huddled downtown on Crawford with all of my running buddies awaiting the starting gun. 

Expo was excellent.  Lots of stuff to see/buy.  I broke down and got a new pair of ASICs for next year (the price was too good to pass up).  Picked up some new waterproof socks (planning ahead) and some new ear buds.  

And, of course, lots of cool shirts/slogons... 


Geared up

Begin with the end in mind
Planning an early wake up call in the morning to head downtown.  Weather is still warm but the storms are supposed to roll in later tonight.  

What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger.  

Down to the wire

Scattered T-Storms

Less that 24 hours to go now.  

I am down the final prep.  I am still trying to figure out what to wear.  Forecast is not looking good.  Right now it is is 71 degrees, 97% humidity (welcome to Texas winter).  Those conditions would make for a hot/humid run.  However, this is Texas and, as the expression goes:  "If you don't like the weather now, just wait a minute, it'll change."  Cold front is coming through today and is supposed to drop the temps by 20-30 degrees and bring the rain.  So tomorrow is looking to be a wet and chilly run.  They will hold the run, rain or shine.  Lightening however, is another story.  There is talk that, if there is lightening, they may postpone the start, postpone the race or even cancel it.  They may even pull runners off the course is they detect lightening during the race.  We heard that back in 2011 when we were lined up at the start and the weather was threatening - not a popular decision by a lot of runners (lots of boos, catcalls).  Everyone is watching the weather today and crossing their fingers.  We really won't know until race time tomorrow.    

I like the 50 degree temperatures, but running in the rain will be a pain.  No matter how much you prep or try to avoid it, you are going to get wet.  I may try to Camp Dry my shoes to stave off the wet, but, after 13.1 miles and 2.5 hours in the rain, I figure it is pretty much inevitable.  I am just trying to dress for the weather.  Some people run in rain gear or ponchos but I'm not one of those.  I've done if a few times and I usually wind up sweating more than actually getting rained upon.  On top of the rain, we may be facing a stiff breeze (15 mph).  That usually affects my times more than a few raindrops.  

Heading downtown now to hit the expo and pick up my packet.  Time to pick up some more race swag.  New shirt, shorts, more energy gel packs, another cowbell, race towel.  One group has set up a collection bin for shoes for the homeless.  Runners are encouraged to donate their old shoes.  I forgot to take mine last year so I plan to drop off my old New  Balance shoes that got demoted to yard duty a few years ago.  I do have another set of New Balance trail shoes that I used for Philmont that have "seen better days".  Not sure if they will take those.  I also plan to take time to scope out (drive) the course one more time just to see any changes.  

Yard shoes - they helped my do my first 1/2 marathon
Trail runners - two Philmonts, lots of miles

09 January 2013

PreRace penumbra

Forecast for Sunday:
Description: Description: Rain
Cloudy with rain (70% chance).  Highs in the mid-50s and lows in the upper 40s.

A little over 3 days till we step off.  At this point, I am getting my game plan in order.  This ain’t my first rodeo, so I sort of know what to expect. 

Don’t really need the course map anymore.  It’s the exact same route they have been doing for years.  I even have the mile markers etched in my mind from memory.  I know where to park, where the starting line is, which corral I am assigned into, where the water breaks are, where the timing chip marks are (every 5k), where the course goes uphill, where is the turnaround point, where to layup, where to kick it up a notch, which bands are playing where, where are the energy zones, and more importantly, where are the porta potties.  From my previous trips I think I could run it in in my sleep.  

I have a system.  You want to get downtown early because close in parking gets harder and they start closing streets around 0530.  My plan is to be downtown by 0500 at the latest.  Last year I scored a primo parking spot just off the course within the last 200 yards.  Made it nice to have the truck close by after I finished.  Will shoot for that spot again this year, if it is not taken. 

The Health Expo opens Friday and runs through Saturday.  I have to go down to pick up my packet with my race packet with bib, shirt, hat, and all sorts of swag.  The expo is a great place to see/sample/buy/taste/try on the latest running accessories.  You can get the latest moisture wicking apparel in some really wild colors, you can get a utility belt that would make Batman proud to carry your water pods, energy shots, iPod/iPhone, etc..  You can score a really good deal on shooz (1/3 off store prices) if you are willing to dig through the pile of boxes.  My problem is that then never seem to carry my size (12).  I usually get some new shorts and shirts cuz they are dirt cheap.  I don’t plan to get any new shooz at this time because something about breaking in new shoes on a half marathon doesn't seem to be a smart move.  I will spend a few hours cruising the expo for the latest gear/bling.  Some people throw down big $$$ for one of those high tech watches that will tell you every little detail about your run (time, temp, elevation, pace, split times, GPS location, heart rate, calories burned).  Some devices will even post updates to your smart phone/PC along the course.   I’m  prefer my old Timex Marathon watch with lap timers.  I always pick up a pace band – sort of a low tech way to track your pace throughout the race.  It is essentially one of those bands you get for a concert or state fair that grants you admission but they actually print out your estimate back with the various mile markers so that you can track your progress along the course.  Been using one of those for years. 
Everyone has different ways of getting amped up for this run.  Some are out doing sprints, some are doing LDS (long slow distance) runs in Memorial park.  At this point, I have throttled back on my runs.  Every other day try to get in 3-5 mile runs just to stay limber/keep from getting rusty.  It’s too late to try and go for the longer distances to make any difference and I am afraid I will injure myself like I did 4 years ago.  Looks like this weekend will be a wet & cold run.  I will run in the rain (not preferable) but I don’t want to really push my luck on catching a cold before the run.  Speaking of colds, I am skirting one right now.  My bride already has the zombie flu and doing her darnedest  to pass it along to me.  I am taking lots of vitamin C and Zicam to avoid the inevitable   I definitely do NOT want to add that to my race routine.

This year I am making an effort to carb load.  Eating a lot more pasta this week.  Laying off red meat.  There are different philosophies on eating before the race as well.  Fruit and oatmeal a couple of hours before are supposed to provide more energy (than bacon and eggs).  Some food combinations do not do well in a long distance race.  I've seen the results from eating heavy meals the morning of or the night before and it ain't pretty. 

A few other tips I've learned over the years: 

  • Eat lite before the race.  Think protein.  Yogurt and oatmeal are good starts a few hours before the start.  Bananas provide good energy.  Save the gel shots and energy drinks until the start.  I typically toss back one of those energy packs at the start and then another every 30-45 minutes.      
  • Prep the areas that will get the most wear & tear – feet, legs, chest – in my first year I started chafing around mile 6 and almost rubbed myself raw in a very sensitive location.  Had to apply a strategically placed band aides (while running I might add) to prevent further chafing.  Now I tape up before each run to avoid a repeat. 
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  I tried running with a bottle of energy drink last year and it really didn't help.  Carrying a bottle for ½ the race distracted me, and I tossed it to my brother on the sidelines as I passed.  I also found that drinking too much water may have an ancillary effect.  If you are sweating tons, that is one avenue.  If it is cold and you don’t sweat as much, you might have to make a pit stop (or two) along the course. 
  • And, if you must go, here’s a tip:  Avoid the first set of potties. 
  • Listen to your body.  It will tell you when you've had enough.            

06 January 2013

5th time's a charm


Once again, it's official.  The course is set, the registration paid, spot confirmed, start time is less than a week away.  For some insane reasons I cannot explain, I keep going back for this abuse each year.  Come next Sunday, I will be but one of 25,000 really crazy people crammed onto the cold, dark, downtown streets at the crack of early awaiting the starting gun.  Got a notice of my bib number this morning.  Will pick up my official race packed next weekend at the expo. 

Am I ready?  Nope.  I haven't run as much as I had planned, not built up the mileage like I intended to.  I could list several excuses, but they'd just be excuses.  I have been running over the past few weeks and building the miles/distance, just not up to 13.1.  Just like last year, I feel confident I can make the total 13.1 miles, I just won't be breaking any records (except perhaps my own).  Would like to break a 2:00 course total but, given my lack of prep, that is not in the cards.  For an old fat fart, I just hope to clear the course in under 2.5 hours without croaking on the trail (considered really bad form).

It is about this time I start monitoring the weather for the upcoming week.  Right now the weather is typical for south Texas this time of year.  Cold and rainy yesterday, clear and cold today (low 40s), but we're looking to dry out this week and may hit the low 60s during the week.  The long range forecast if for rain and cold next weekend (starting temp forecasted to be in the low 40s) but, to me, that is too far away to start layering up.  Still, it does make it planning your race day attire challenge - pants or no pants?  

Ready to hit the streets