Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Marathons are Addictive! @OKCMarathon

1968-132014 Creative_4 I’ve been enjoying the last couple of weeks as my running has become more natural after being laid off from running for 5 weeks. I’ve only been training for the last 6 weeks, but feel that I can knock out a marathon before the summer months. I know that it won’t be an optimal race, but I’m really itching for a big race.

I’ve signed up for the Oklahoma City Marathon which is on April 27th. It’s just a little over 17 days to go before the race gets here. I ran the Half Marathon there a couple of times back in 2009 & 2010. I definitely enjoyed the race environment back then.

The run that pushed me over the top of going to OKC was my destination run to my in-laws. They moved here last summer and I always knew that I was going to run to their house. I’ve been scoping out safe routes to their house for quite awhile.  The route from Frisco to Lucas is 18 miles long with the last 3 miles being the worse.  The bad things about those 3 miles is that there are no sidewalks, a very narrow shoulder on the road, 50mph speed limit, blind spots, and there’s no other road to their house.  Even though the last part of the route was a challenge, the windy rainy conditions posed to be quite the pain. I almost stopped at mile 10 as the rain really came down. I’m glad that I didn’t stop.  It was awesome to get the finish line of my in-laws house. Below is a little recap of the run from Strava.

Looking forward to my 13th marathon experience up in Oklahoma in two and a half weeks.

Monday, April 7, 2014

It’s been a while

I hate writing one of those “it’s been a while” blog posts, but it’s been a while.  The last I posted was about completing the Houston Marathon. I learned that I actually pushed through that race with a strained MCL. Not as bad as the doctor originally thought, but it still laid me off for 5 weeks from running. Those 5 weeks seemed like torture.  Ursula couldn’t wait for me to stop complaining and get back out on the road or trails.

Getting back into running has been a challenge. I’ve felt sluggish and so out of shape. I trained for about 4 weeks getting back some base mileage to be able to run the Grasslands Trail Half Marathon.

Grasslands Trail Half Marathon

0087-cropped I felt so darn sluggish during that race. It had a lot more elevation challenges than I remembered from the previous year. I don’t think I remembered them from last year because there was more walking through the slip-sliding mud that was happening.

During the race, I kept pushing myself beyond what I was truly comfortable with.  I walked a few of the steeper inclines… always a nice place to walk if you’re going to walk. About 4-6 people would pass me during that point. I’d get back to running and in turn I’d pass them again. After doing this a few times, I decided it’d be best if I just caught the pace of one of the guys that I kept passing. I needed to run comfortably and enjoy the race. I kept pace with a guy named Geoff. We hit it off with some great conversation. Our kids are about the same age and we shared about our professional lives. I really enjoyed our conversations as it truly kept my mind elsewhere.

Trail Biking

20140324_192756 The other thing that I’ve been getting into is MTB or trail biking.  I’m not sure if I can use the term Mountain Bike Riding here in flat Texas. 

I’m riding on the same trails that I used to run on.  Well, I’m still running them at times, but it’s definitely more fun riding them.  It’s also a bit scarier when riding them.  The falls or crashes seem to hurt more when riding. I had my first big spill last month, but have bounced back onto the trails.  I seem to be getting the hang of it.

20140314_093423 For my birthday, I rented Cairo a bike and he joined me.  That was an awesome birthday!  I really do enjoy getting out there and enjoying the trails.  I think he liked riding the trails better than running them.  However, he wasn’t up for me purchasing him a bike.

When it comes to birthday gifts, I’ll always take experiences over gifts.  I’ll never forget this ride with Cairo!  Thanks, Cairo!

Here’s a video of me getting to see George W. Bush zooming by with his Secret Service dudes behind him.  Excuse the language in the video.  You can barely see G.W., but you get the point. :)

I’ve got some blog posts rolling around in my head.  I felt like I needed to get this one posted before getting new ones out there.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Houston Marathon Recap

58885_10152124925434356_691858261_n I went into the Houston Marathon knowing that I wasn’t 100% physically conditioned and injury free.  I only had a few good runs on my knee since the New Years Eve bowling mishap.  However, I still thought that I could crack the 4 hour time.  I really wanted to do this so that I could experience the first Sub-4 Hour marathon for a fellow runner friend of mine, Matt Gray.  He wanted to hit that goal, but he wasn’t completely injury free either.

Saturday’s Happenings

The Drive

Ursula and I left our house early and headed to pick up one of my best cheerleaders, my daughter Briana.  It was a nice uneventful drive down to College Station.  After we picked up Briana, we made our way over to the A&M college campus.  I wanted to see if I could pick up a new marathon race shirt.  This is one of my favorite things to do for a marathon… get a new race shirt. I found an awesome black A&M Under Armour shirt that I fell in love with.  Knowing that we’re only 90 minutes from College Station I knew that there’d be a lot of Aggies to cheer me on.  I was definitely not disappointed!  I knew that I would need the extra encouragement on the course for this race.

Expo

When we arrived in Houston, we parked near the hotel and walked to the race expo.  It was a fun expo being the right size.  I was good and did not buy anything.  That was pretty much a first for me.  I was going to get my knee taped up by the KT Tape people, but there was about a 30 minute wait.  I’m not very good at waiting so I figured I could do it myself since their online videos are really helpful.  Ursula actually had fun at this race expo... she found a place where they were giving $20 haircuts.  My race haircuts are catching on!!!!  She loves cutting hair as much as I love running.  The entire time that I walked the expo floor, she watched and studied the techniques of the hair stylists.  She had a great time in her own way.  As well, I had a good time walking around with Briana.  She even picked up a pair of pink running shoes for $40.  Score!

Interview

387-cropped As we were walking away from the expo we saw a news crew standing at the corner.  Lo and behold, the local Fox news channel reporter asked me a series of questions.  It was pretty cool to be interviewed.  He asked about the heightened security measures since the Boston Marathon.  He also asked general questions about why I run.  I don’t think much of my interview made the news, but Ursula’s cousin saw a few seconds of it and took a picture of the TV screen.  Below is a video that Briana took on her phone.  The video and audio aren’t that great, but you get the idea.

What!?! No bath tub!?!

20140118_152623 One thing that I believe in is having an ice bath after a marathon.  Even though the freezing cold is a killer, I really think that my recovery is sped up by it.  On the way to Houston I grabbed a couple of bags of ice in anticipation of the post-marathon ice bath. I figured bringing the ice in my cooler would be so much easier than trying to deal with the hotel ice machines. As well, we were staying downtown, so there weren’t going to be any nearby convenient stores.

We got checked into the lovely Embassy Suites.  This is one of my favorite hotels as I love their made to order omelets.  We got to our room and checked everything out.  The over my budget room was definitely nice, except for one major problem.  There was no bath tub, but a shower.  Yikes!  Really!?!  I called down to the front desk to see if I could get another room.  They said that their double rooms had tubs, but unfortunately the entire hotel was booked because of the race.  Ughh!  I wasn’t going to fret about this since it was post race and not going to mess with the actual race.  However, I never thought of asking the hotel if there’d be a tug in the room.  In previous marathons that I travelled to, the tub was there.  This is something that I’ll be checking out for future race hotels.

Dinner #1

We had a wonderful carbo-loading meal with our Frisco Running Club friends at Maggiano’s.  There was definitely plenty of food to consume.  I’m sure that I ate my fill of bread and spaghetti.  We had a lot of laughs in preparation for the next morning.

Dinner #2

While all of the other runners headed to their hotels to try to sleep, we headed over to Ursula’s cousin’s house for our second dinner. :)  It was great visiting with Christi, Kem, Christi’s co-worker, and Uncle Phil.  I told myself that we’d stay about an hour until 8:30 or so.  I was paying attention to the time, but next thing you know it’s 10:00pm.  We were all having a great time. One thing that I really want is for Ursula and Briana to enjoy themselves while we go to these running events.  I wasn’t too worried about the amount of sleep that I’d be getting.  I’m usually too excited to sleep anyway.

SUNDAY!

Group Photo

1507359_10201428259210207_1116769963_o I got up pretty early to get ready for the race. I snuck out the room to allow Briana a few more minutes of sleep before Ursula would get her up. I walked over to another hotel where all of the Frisco Running Club members would meet.  We were definitely excited and rearing to go.  The three-something guys made our way to the race corrals.  The starting corrals were very interesting as they only allowed one corral in at a time.  We were all Corral A so we were in line first.  The other corrals had to wait at the side streets.  That was the first time that I saw this type of setup.  We only had to wait a few minutes before we crossed the start line.

Miles 1-6

image I love the marathon start! There’s so much excitement and anticipation in the air!  You cannot help but get caught up in it.  The start was crowded, but unbelievably comfortable. We actually had room to run and we weren’t always trying to get around people.  I loved this start!  We all talked about running 9:00-9:15 at the beginning miles, however, we had to keep reeling ourselves back as we were doing better than this pace.  Sub-9 minute pace for the beginning miles.  My thought was that we were definitely banking some time on our way to Sub-4 hours.  We saw our families somewhere during the sixth mile.  It was great seeing them!  As we started back running, this is the first time that I felt pain in my knee.

Miles 7-17

image Getting back into the run of the things was pretty good, but I kept thinking about my stupid knee.  I was doing pretty well, but as I was watching Matt McGhee and Jeff running, they looked so effortless and further out/faster than I wanted to run.  I was hitting sub-9 minutes, but they were really hitting sub-8:50’s.  At one point, I think I told Matt McGhee that I wouldn’t be able to keep the current pace up for the whole race.

I told myself to run comfortably and run my race.  My times were slowly slipping with each mile.  I felt bad for Matt Gray as he had hopes of hitting Sub-4 hours.  He was staying with me instead of Matt and Jeff.  I really wanted him to break that goal.

During the 15th mile I decided to respond to nature’s call and take a squat.  It was definitely needed.  I told Matt to go on without me.  The last thing I told him was to run comfortably and enjoy the race.

Inner voice thoughts:  It’s really weird to not to be able to run at a pace that I was able to run just 9 months before when I was at my peak.  It’s weird to even think that I ran a marathon at a 8:22 pace.  Yes, I know I’ll be back, but this is the crap that goes through your head when you’re in the moment.

It was during mile 17 that I saw Ursula, Briana, and Christi again.  My knee pain was really flaring up at this point.  It was the first time that I considered quitting the race, however, I didn’t tell them.  I just told them that I was in pain and couldn’t believe that I had 10 more miles to go.  They were an awesome encouragement!

When I started back up running after seeing them, the pain was tremendous.  I almost turned around and went back to them, but didn’t.  I just kept putting one foot in front of the other.  Shortly after seeing them, I saw them again driving by me.  They waved from the comfort of the car.  I again thought about telling them that I quit, but I came all this way… I wanted to finish despite the pain.

Miles 18-23

image I alternated between running and walking during the next few miles.  I kept telling myself to get to mile 20 and then it’s only a fricking 10K.  That sounded very appealing at that time!  During this stretch of miles I made peace with myself.  I told myself to just shut up and enjoy the day.  It was a beautiful day and it was a wonderful race.  Not every race that I run is going to be a PR or going to be perfectly executed.  My only job for the rest of the race was to enjoy it.  Back during miles 7-17, I stopped joking and having fun.  Now was the time to quit wallowing in self-pity and enjoy the marathon experience.  I started to play along with the spectators, enjoying their signs and encouragement.  One of the signs said to touch here for power.  I pretended that I could barely get to the sign, but once I tapped the sign, I sprinted after touching it.  It was fun again!  You’ve got to find your joy during periods of pain.

I loved all of the Aggie love that I got.  It was a great decision to wear the A&M shirt.

1012816_10152124727984356_1948024082_n-cropped During mile 22, I got to see my family again.  It was so good to see them!  I complained about the pain some more and they did their job of encouraging me to finish.  I started back up running and loved it when Briana joined me for a bit.  She got to run with me during a point where there were a lot of spectators.  It’s so awesome to get caught up in the cheering that you forget about the soreness and the pain.  I loved running with her at my side.  It was one of biggest highlights of the race.  I think we ran together for about a quarter mile.  She swears that it was a mile.  :)

At just about the point when I told her that she should run back, here comes the 4:15 marathon pacer.  I made a joke to her about not passing me.  I stayed with her for a while, but I had to get back to my run/walk pattern.  I really wanted to stay with her as I thought 4:15 would be pretty darn cool!  The conversation with her was great.  I enjoyed our time together, but unfortunately after walking through one of the water stops, I couldn’t keep up.

Miles 24-Finish

imageThe final miles of a marathon always seem to take forever.  This race was no different.  I allowed myself some good walking during the 25th mile and was going to walk some during the 26th mile.  However, the 26th mile became a grin and bear it mile.  I struck up a conversation with a younger guy and we talked about how we just wanted to get the race over with.  I really had planned on walking a bit so that I could finish strong, but I just kept talking and running.  Then it became show time when there were more and more spectators lining the streets.  I didn’t want to walk, but run.  Seeing the finish line was awesome!  What a welcome sight!  I had so much fun with the crowds… yes, I thought they were cheering just for me.  I thought of Cairo, my son, as I was finishing… I kicked it out for a Cross Country style finish!  I missed him during the race as he had to work, but I’m sure he would’ve been proud of my finish.

Post-Race

It was great catching up with Ursula, Briana, and Christi after the race.  I was so glad that they really seemed to enjoy themselves.  I know that this not Ursula’s favorite thing to do… follow me around during a race with all of the street closures and figuring out where I’m at.  I’m so glad that she love me as she does!  It was super helpful having Christi drive the Houston streets.  Thanks, cuz!

 Running Into Meb

20140120_102346 We stayed Sunday night as I really didn’t want to have to rush home after the race.  It’s fun to just enjoy yourself after the race.  When we were packing up the car… who do we see running on the sidewalk?  None other than Meb Keflezighi!  I couldn’t help, but yell out, MEB!  He was super nice as he stopped to talk to us.  I congratulated him on his race as he won the Houston Half Marathon with a time of 1:01:23.  Incredible time!  He was very humble and asked about my race.  I told him about my knee and he mentioned ways to strengthen your leg muscles.  It was very surreal getting to meet him. 

There were long lines at the marathon expo to meet him.  This chance meeting was so cool.  It was fun to watch as he ran off from us.  What looked like a sprint to us was probably a nice cool down as his hotel was only a couple of blocks away from us.  What a way to end the marathon weekend!

My 12th marathon was quite the experience!  It was everything that a marathon is hyped up to be.  It cracks me up when people ask me about my time… it’s not just about the clock time, but what happens before, during, and after.  I enjoyed the heck out of those 4 hours and 27 minutes!  :)

I’ll find out in the next couple of days about my knee.  I know that I didn’t do myself any favors by running on it.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Houston is Going to Hurt!

TopMostRowMarathonLogoIt’s Houston Marathon race week and I’m in the usual state of mind… all over the place. My mind races before the actual race. I think about every possible thing that can happen. This is definitely not the healthiest thing to do, but it’s one of my quirks that adds to the excitement of preparing for and running a marathon.

Besides the usual things running through my head is my left knee. I tweaked it on New Year’s Eve when I went bowling with my family. Go figure, I can run miles and miles, but I take 5 steps and injure my knee.  I’ve been recovering it pretty well and have literally only ran twice since I hurt it. Both times have been painful, not too painful, but the pain is there.  I’ve been applying ice to it almost nightly.

I had great long training runs before it happened, so I know that I’ve trained enough for the marathon. I just need my knee to be a bit happier before the race. I’m not a big fan of pain, but I’m all about reaching that finish line. I will keep evaluating how I feel as I get closer to the race and throughout the race.  I don’t exactly need to run this race, but I definitely want to.

I’m travelling with friends from the Frisco Running Club. I’m really hoping to stick with them as we’re all trying to get one of our friends to a Sub-4 hour time. Ursula and the kids are coming as well, so I’m looking forward to seeing them on the course.

If you’d like to follow my progress on race day on Sunday, go HERE. The race starts at 7am. I’ve already been running it in my head! :)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Running on Water

20131216_173659 For the first time in quite awhile, my family and I went on a vacation by ourselves. The week before Christmas we went on a cruise with Carnival. It was one of the best vacation experiences that I’ve had besides going to London with my wife many years ago. I would definitely go on a cruise again. It’s a wonderful way to be pampered!  Yes, we took a selfie minutes after we got on the ship!

I could write several blog posts on how great the food was, the service, and the excursions, but, of course I’ll talk about running. I find release, adventure, and great enjoyment from running.

gulfofmexico While at sea, I thought I’d hit the running track on the top level of the ship.  11 laps equaled a mile so it was definitely going to be fun counting them off.  My GPS watch was doing its thing and measuring the speed of the ship. It was so fun to look down on my watch to see that I was rocking a 3:08/mile. :) Uhhhhh… not even in my dreams!

dailymilegps I thought that I’d see a bunch of circles overlapping in the Gulf of Mexico for my running route, but it came up as a staggered line. It alternated for every time that I lapped the ship. I ran 3 actual miles, but for every mile that I ran, the ship cruised 3 miles. So, as a result, my Garmin GPS watch showed that I ran 9 miles. I corrected the distance in DailyMile.  :)

progreso-mapmyrunI was looking forward to running while we landed on shore, but found out that it was highly discouraged.  In Progreso, MX, there was a 4 mile pier that I thought would be perfect to run. Before travelling on the trip I even found a MapMyRun route for the pier so I thought I’d be in luck.  However, there was definitely not enough room on that pier to run safely. I was kind of bummed about not being able to run while on shore, but enjoyed some great family time.

I did run 4 miles on the dreadmill in the ship’s gym. But, it’s never been fun for me. I always start out at a comfortable pace and then increase the pace for each mile since I’m so ready to be done. It was a unique experience when the ship rocked a little bit and you had to adjust on the treadmill.

While I didn’t get to run on land, I still made the best of what I could do.  I’m looking forward to running in the Houston Marathon in 3 weeks.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Blessing in Disguise

As everyone knows, the Dallas Marathon was cancelled on Sunday.  A lot of people were bummed, frustrated, angry, and whined about it.  However, I really see it as a blessing in disguise for some of us.  Some peeps did not train as well as they could’ve or would’ve because of various reasons.  Be it injury or complacency, now is the time to reset and prepare for the Cowtown Marathon.  That’s what Chris and I will be doing for his upcoming first marathon.  Cannot wait to be a part of it with him!

Cairo and I made the best of the weekend by playing a bunch of XBox One and sliding down our driveway.

I missed the Dollies at the Dallas Marathon, but I’ll look forward to seeing Mile 9 at the Cowtown Marathon.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Cyborg for the Day

20131031_141202 I normally don’t do Halloween. I’ve never really been into it except for when I was a kid. That was a long time ago. :) I’m not totally against it, but I’ve never been crazy about haunted houses and spooky stuff.  I have enough going on in my normal life that seems to scare the heck out of me.

Working at the GameStop corporate office, I thought I’d participate since they were having a costume contest. I also wanted to do it since nobody would expect me to play along.

My wife works with a lot of creative haristylists at Green Peridot Salon in Frisco.  One of them is a make up artist.  Sarah is definitely an artist.  Her favorite holiday is Halloween.  She dressed up as a cyborg a couple of years ago so I knew that she probably wouldn’t be wearing this costume again. 

Alex-CyborgI met with her early in the morning to have her apply the make up and hook me up with the cyborg gear. This was definitely the first time for make up, a fake eyelash, and whatever she put on my lips.  It really took some getting used to. I didn’t realize how hard it would be not touching my face throughout the day. It was fun trying to eat lunch without messing up the handiwork.

It was definitely a fun time wearing the outfit and playing Cyborg for the day. I got a lot of double takes and then… “nice!” comments. I also got a lot of strange looks when I went to Walmart. I’m usually the one giving the strange looks. :)

It was fun being a part of the costume contest. I didn’t win, but I’m sure I came in a close second. I lost to HR as they were dressed up as Duck Dynasty.  You just cannot beat those beards!