Boston Marathon and Vacation

While boarding the plane, I have to admit to the excitement of taking my first trip to the east coast. We flew into Boston with plans to pick up a rental car, then drive to New Hampshire where we would stay with some close friends for a couple of days. boston-landing

One thing to consider if you go to Boston and get a rental car: as soon as you leave the airport, you’re ejected right onto a tollway that goes through a long tunnel. GPS signals typically don’t work underground—go figure, so don’t make the mistake we did! Be sure you know what exit you’re taking before going into the tunnel.

We stopped at a bike shop before leaving the city to pick up some CO2 cartridges since I was able to bring my bike on this trip, but naturally compressed gas is not allowed on the plane. After the quick detour, we made it up to New Hampshire without any major problems; except for the the fact that it was still WINTER up there! Bear in mind that I am a native (south) Texan who can wear flip-flops year round. The next morning dropped down to 25F; nevertheless, I was determined to ride. I put the bike together and headed out on a 60 mile ride through New Hampshire, just crossing the state line into Vermont before turning back. Because it was still so cold, the trees didn’t have leaves on them yet, and in fact there was snow on the ground in some places!

There was a good amount of elevation with some decent climbs along the way which was a nice treat for me. Overall it was a great day on the bike exploring a different part of the country. Below are pictures from my adventure.

 

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Picturesque!

 

 

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Just to prove it was cold, obligatory snow picture.

 

 

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Nice climb here with a flowing creek on the left side.

 

 

coveredbridge
Love historic covered bridges.

 

 

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Bienvenue to New Hampshire. On my way back from Vermont.

 

 

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Fitzwilliam: The quaint small town we visited with friends.

After a couple of days, we drove back to Boston and moved into our hotel room for the remainder of our stay. Kristine was getting really excited about the marathon. We used the subway to get around the city, but we mostly just took it easy until race day. We spent some time at the running expo, which was big and exciting as you might expect for such a big event. Kristine got all taped up with KT tape hoping her hip would hold out through the race which was still causing some pain. We also did the pasta dinner the night before the race. I wouldn’t recommend it. The food was bland—basically noodles and spaghetti sauce. Although it was included for runners, family members had to pay to join the dinner. Topping that off, we stood in a line that wrapped around 3 blocks for nearly an hour just to get our food. Next time we’ll make reservations for sushi.

 

The day before her race I was lucky enough to get a ride in around Boston in the morning. I just wanted to explore the city, so I went easy and took lots of pictures. The route traversed through downtown, MIT, Harvard, and back to the hotel. Here’s some pictures from that ride.

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Race day!

RacedayAfter all the training and hard work, the big day had finally arrived! The morning air was crisp and cold, but the afternoon forecast was expected to be warm and sunny. Kristine had to wear some old warm clothes over her running outfit which could be discarded at the start of the race. The classic ‘California Raisins’ sweater was the choice of the day. Sad to see that one go!

Unlike Houston, the runners are transported on school buses from Boston Common out of town to the starting point in Hopkinton. They run a direct route back into the city, so it wasn’t practical for me to see her during the race. Although I had my bike with me, we opted not to try that this year. As they were loading the buses, I gave her one last kiss and wished her the best of luck. I told her she had this, and this was her time to shine. Just enjoy the moment.984056_10152065093421631_8095361839667973647_n

All I could think about as I watched her leave was how proud of her I was. I said to myself, “my sweetie is running in Boston!!”

After seeing her off, I met up with our friends from New Hampshire who had come in to the city to watch Kristine race. We made our way near the finish line where we must have stood there for over 3 hours waiting to see Kristine finish. It was simply incredible to see how many people get involved in this event. It’s like nothing else. The streets were jam packed with people!

We finally got a spot right on the fence where we could practically touch the runners finishing. It was shortly after when we saw Kristine coming across the finish line. What a sight! She made it, and faster than we expected! She’s now a Boston marathon finisher!! How cool is that!?

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BostonMedal

That night we enjoyed a nice sushi dinner with some sweet treats from Mike’s Pastry. We relaxed and planned to explore the city together the following day.

After nearly a week away from home, we were looking forward to getting back. It was really a positive trip and already we’re thinking about returning to visit our friends in New Hampshire this fall to see the changing colors. What a sight that must be!

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Riding the wheels off!

It’s been a little while since my last post, so here is a quick update.

I’ve really picked up my bike mileage and I’ve been riding with SCCC a lot. This week I did the Paperclip ride for the first time, which is a fast, take no prisoners type of ride. Here is a screen shot from Strava with data from that ride:

I was told to expect getting dropped at some point and sure enough I got dropped! It was fair weather, but windy and when I got stuck on the back unable to find the draft in the echelon, I got dropped as the pace increased. At times we were pushing 25 mph into the wind and I hear the group who made it to the turn around point was pushing 35 mph downwind. Here’s two videos from the Paperclip, before and after getting dropped.

So, the past two weeks I’ve logged over 150 miles each week, and this week I’ve already logged 171 miles. Some charts showing distance and time below:

Not to completely forget my running, I finished a 3.35 mile run on Wednesday at a casual pace. After the run I applied ice to my achillies tendon for good measure and I left my compression socks on for a couple of hours afterward. Next day, no problems! I’m also using the foam roller for my IT band and stretching it really good, so I’m not having any major problems with that either. In fact, since I started the stretching routine specifically for the IT band, I would venture to say it’s getting better, all be it slow given how much mileage I’m logging on the bike.

Things are going really well and I’m having a lot of fun riding with SCCC. I’m still planning to participate in the Houston Grand Crit this coming May, but I am watching the weather. I’m not sure I will race if it’s raining. Probably not wise for my first race anyway!

Thanks for reading my boring blog I’m sure, but I at least hope it’s kept you up to date with the happenings in my athletic life.

Take care my friends! Get out and enjoy this lovely spring weather!!

Condition Update

As you know my achillies tendon and IT band have both been giving me problems when I run. The good news is that my achillies is getting much better! I ordered a pair of  compression socks made by CEP which have really helped. Wearing them to help recovery and wearing them when I run is the key. I’ve started some new routines to strengthen my calf muscles and improve flexibility in order to prevent a relapse. My IT band is being persistent, but is still very manageable. I’m planning to see a sports massage specialist to see if we can’t work it out completely.

Yesterday I swam for the first time in years! Of course I’m always in the water with my job, but I don’t swim laps. I went for an open water swim in Clear Lake, swimming just over a quarter of a mile from shore to a green marker, then back to shore. Completed in 27m:56s, so at that pace I would at least make the cut off time for a half Ironman! Plenty of time to improve though, I’m not planning anything like that until next year.

I was feeling so good yesterday that I decided to bike and run as well! I’ve always felt on those days you’re feeling really good is when you should go the extra distance in your workout, really push! That I did, averaging 20.3 mph on the bike and running a 5K in 29m:32s after all of that!

Seabrook Half Marathon Race Report

I finished my first half marathon yesterday!!

2h:17m:27.9s | 10:29 min/mi.

Age Group Placement: 18th.

Overall Placement: 105th

>View Full Results<

 

The weather was nice in the sense that we had no rain and the trails were beautiful. On the other hand, it was very humid and much warmer than it has been during training the past month, so I was absolutely sweating buckets. There is no doubt this had an effect on my race performance.

I met up with a friend (Steve) at this race and we lined up together at the starting shoot. He likes to run a faster pace at the beginning and I made the mistake of trying to pace him for the first 2 miles. I ended up running much faster than my training pace and was forced to back off and let him go after mile two. I recovered quickly though and maintained a steady pace through the first half of the race with no real problems, reaching the half-way mark at 59:06.

Going into the 7th mile my IT band ached a bit, but it wasn’t too bad and I felt like I could run through it. The heat and humidity was already taking it’s tole though. Even with all the hydration I did the day before the race and the morning of, I still suffered.

Late in the 8th mile and through the 9th mile, my legs were filling with lactic acid and felt so tired I was wishing for wings to fly to the finish. Ironically, I ended up behind a really nice girl from Dallas dressed up as a fairy with wings on her back and all! She sprinkled some fairy dust on me and really gave me great support and motivation! Nonetheless, my legs were really getting tired and sore. Realizing how my running form gets sloppy when my legs are that tired, I decided I had better slow my pace even more and walk a little too. My achillies tendon was not bothering me, but it was getting tired along with everything else. I could have pushed through my tired legs and forced myself to keep going like I did on my training run a month ago, when I had the initial achillies flare up, but I was smart and knew that it would only make things worse.

Mile 11-13 was without a doubt the hardest miles I’ve ever run! The combination of not running smart early on and the warmer, humid temperatures, lead to mostly walking through the last 2 miles. Thankfully, I managed to save enough energy to run the last quarter mile. There was no way I was walking through the finishing shoot!

At the end of the day I was considerably slower than my goal, but I finished my first half marathon and only my second running race!! I learned a lot running competitively with so many others and I have made mental notes on what I need to focus on to improve.

Physically I need to do a lot of strengthening in my calf muscles, as well as my hip flexors. Without a doubt those were hurting the most. Strong calf muscles will also help to rehabilitate and prevent achillies problems. Mentally, I need to focus on my own race and simply run my training pace. I had a great time though and I’m happy to have finished my first half marathon which came with a nice finishers medal!

Yesterday’s race ended with my first ice bath for 15 minutes. So many athletes swear by them, but I’ve been too much of a wuss to try one before now. I can’t lie, it was REALLY COLD and hurt like hell at first! After the first 5 minutes though, it did feel good on my legs, between the shivering and chattering of my teeth that is. I’m still sore as hell today, but perhaps not as bad as I would have been.

That’s all for now! My next race is a bike race in May. I’m taking a good break from running while I rehabilitate this achillies. I’m not planning another running race until September at the earliest, but hopefully I will be on top of my injuries and training smarter before that day comes.

I would like to give a big thanks to Robbie, the race director for organizing this great event, also a special thanks to all of the volunteers for your amazing work! Thank you guys!! 🙂

Thank you for reading my blog; stay tuned for more!

Here’s a nice video of the event put together by Monica Montoya:

Training Run 3/6/12

  Today was a much better day on the Seabrook trails than last week. Not too hot, not too cold, and the humidity wasn’t as bad with a nice breeze. I wanted to get a long run in today so I can do a medium distance run tomorrow to complete my 13 miles. I wasn’t sure how my IT band and achilles tendon would do past 6 miles. I haven’t run that far all at once since I irritated it a few weeks ago.

I used the foam roller on my IT band before my run and I spent some extra time getting warmed up. It really does seem to be helping because I didn’t have any major issues during the run or after. It was aching a little bit, but not as bad as it had been before I started using the foam roller. I’m definitely seeing an improvement there, so that is really exciting! I can’t begin to tell you how frustrating it is when something hurts, and you’re unsure how to fix it…other than not running of course, but it’s so critical I keep my mileage up. All I have to do is grit my teeth through the pain when I use the roller and I can keep up my mileage. I was probably more concerned about another flare up with the achilles tendon, but after 8.29 miles today I didn’t have any significant issues. I can tell it’s still not completely recovered, maybe about 90%, but I should be good come race day. I’ll probably pay for it after the race though, hopefully not too bad!

I ran a moderately fast pace today for the distance I covered and I have to admit the last mile was very tough to complete!! Tomorrow will be even harder I expect, as I need to get in a good 5 miles. I’m told to be a true marathon runner, the idea in training is to get used to running on sore legs, and tomorrow I will be doing just that.

Of course, I couldn’t come home and relax after today’s run. We had a load of fresh soil dropped off for the garden which had to be hauled through the back yard in a wheel barrel. I managed to finish it all though and now I’m resting for the evening preparing for tomorrows follow up 5 mile run and work I have to do in the afternoon.

Stats from today’s run:

  • Distance: 8.29 Miles
  • Duration: 1h:14m:58s
  • Pace: 9:03 min/mi
  • Calories: 1049

>>View more on Endomondo

Personal Bests & Mileage to Date

Here’s some stats covering all of my progress so far, beginning with my personal bests…

Cycling

  • One hour 21.09 mi
  • 10 miles 26m:11s
  • 20 km 33m:22s
  • 50 km 1h:32m:16s
  • 50 miles 2h:53m:26s
  • 100 km 3h:39m:53s

Running

  • Cooper (12 min) 1.58 mi
  • One hour 6.85 mi
  • 1 km 4m:19s
  • 1 mile 7m:19s
  • 3 miles 22m:58s
  • 5 km 23m:48s
  • 10 km 54m:04s

Monthly run mileage:

Monthly bike mileage:

First half marathon in 2 weeks!

Today marks exactly two weeks until I race in my first ever half marathon! This afternoon I completed a 5K tempo run with some interval work in the second mile. Yesterday I had a grueling day on the bike at the Gator Ride with Luke, getting in 67 miles. The wind was ripping out of the North at 18 mph, gusting 27. It was a great ride though and I got to bike over the Fred Hartman bridge for the first time, breaking my top speed record on the descent at 43 mph:

I’ve had a mixture of ups and downs training for this half marathon, but I hear that is to be expected with any training. Part of it was my fault for attempting to increase my mileage and pace too quickly, leading to a very mild case of achilles tendinitis. I’ve also been having some pain in my lower right IT band, known as Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS). After ice, mortin, and some time off, I think I have recovered from the achilles tendinitis, but I can tell I’m not ready to run a 13.1 mile race simulation this coming week as I had planned. To be on the safe side, I will instead split the run into two days, allowing me to get more miles in without as much risk of injury. The week before my race I plan on taking it easy, maybe a short bike ride or two, and then 4 days out I will have complete rest.

For my right IT band, I have been using a foam roller as recommended on the Runner’s World website. It does seem to help, but it hurts like hell when using it. Only afterward can you really notice the improvement. It also gets easier if you keep after it as I am learning. Neglecting it for too long leads to REAL pain when using the foam roller. I just need to be smart and keep doing what works, hopefully my race won’t hurt me too bad. Nevertheless, come race day, I’m putting it all on the line. After all, isn’t that why I paid $75 to register? 🙂

I’m excited, nervous and of course I’d like to be faster than I am, but I’m pleased with my progress given where I started. A top 10 finish in my age group has always been my goal, so we will see how realistic that was come race day!