Thursday, January 29, 2009

Booo...down with sickness!

I haven't written anything lately because I've been sick. Sick enough to stay home from work on Wednesday, which is not fun. The worst part has been waking up to a raw throat first thing in the morning. But nothing like a day of sitting at home on my rear drinking tea to fix that.

Tonight I went out for a run. It was kind of a weird thing. I got home and the boyfriend wasn't coming over, and I thought, "hmm...what to do". So I came up with take Jude out on the "Buddy" leash Mom bought me for christmas and take Jude out for a run with me. This is my 10 month old puppy, who can't even heel well when I walk. Yeah right. So I spent a half hour walking around the apartment complex with him (one time around!) then I dropped him off at my apartment. Then I started jogging, thinking about what I should do for a run. My first thought was "hill" training (running up and down the 3 story apartment complex parking garage), but I thought no, I'm running trails on Saturday, I should speed train. Argggg, what kind of a marathonr thinks that?

This blog expresses my sentiments exactly.

So I did a leisurely 10 minute easy run and then did 4 sprint sets, 1/8th mile, itty bitty baby sprints. But yes, I did sprints. At the last one, my throat was raw, my heart was pounding, and I hadn't catched my breath during the 1/8 mile inbetween sprints. So I was done. Water. Please.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Another lame post

Ah yes, day after a fall. Fun. Not a lot to talk about, I didn't do anything exciting. I've been feeling kinda crappy lately. BF has been sick, and so have people at work, and with a shot immune system from the marathon it seems I have picked up whatever it is that's going around.

So instead I cooked. And ate persimmons. And satsumas. And cooked the purple cauliflower, and just fyi, when you steam it, the steaming juice comes out green. Emerald green. And then the juice when you're done steaming comes out purple. Weird.

Anyway, planning on running in the morning tomorrow, setting the alarm, planning with BF....

Sunday, January 25, 2009

D'oh!

Went shopping at Hong Kong Market and Central Market today (got some awesome persimmons, but wait, this isn't a food blog) and realized Bicycle World was closing at 5, so I had to drop groceries off, and haul on my bike to get there on time. The guys helped me pick out everything I wanted - front and back lights, odometer, and water bottle holder - and installed them for me (which I was really glad they did, the odometer looked a bit complicated). So I'm leaving the store and headed down kirby towards Holcombe when....

BAM!

Face plant. I was trying to go from the street to the sidewalk and there was a driveway with a bigger step up then I thought and I tried to go over it. Instead of rolling, my front tire slide down the step and my momentum shot my body over the bike and to the side. Thank god for my helmet, although I have a nice strawberry on my elbow, and I also banged my shin on the bicycle itself. I was very glad that I didn't wipe out in front of the bike store, although I'm pretty sure it was firm in everyone's mind that I had little to no idea what I was doing. I was asking for the terminology for my bike. Like, is it called a mountain bike, road bike, def not a racing bike. Turns out it's a hybrid. And I should be just fine to use it in races for a while. No one will point and laugh.

Anyway, so I cleaned up, and decided to swing by Rice Epicurian to pick up big bandaids. By then, it's getting too late for 6 pm yoga, esp because I don't really have the equiptment and had wanted to give myself some time to check out the store first and some extra time in case it took me longer then I thought to bike there. So Instead I went home and pulled myself back together and baked! :)

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

On the trail

Today I met up with H T Rex (Or Houston Trail Running EXtreme) for a long (ish) run at 7 am. It was a nice day out, a little chilly, def cloudy. Miles was leading our group, and well, I wa sin the back of the pack. I do have a good excuse though, trail running is HARD. And I know how I'm going to train for the hills in Austin now.

One of the highlights was that I ran into a armadillo. Or literally, it almost ran into me. I saw it off in the woods, and stopped to watch it. The thing passed right infront of me on the trail. Pretty amazing - I don't think I've ever seen one alive and not in a cage.

So after about an hour I'd had enough. As I was walking away I was actually thinking that I could go for more running, just not trail running. But I got in my car anyway, and headed over to the farmer's market. I picked up purple cauliflower, brussel sprouts, strawberries (grown in Spring TX), spinach, lamb shank, goats milk, and grapefruits. Got some great finds, everything looks delicious!

Off to horseback, minor cross training activity. I felt a lot of tension during the ride on my knees and hips, like transverse muslces. I don't really know enough about anatomy, but I think the pliƩ-type motion on my knees was uncomfortable.

Tomorrow, the plan is biking and yoga. I think what I would like to do is bike to my various training sessions, but first I need some headlights and stuff. Aos if I am going to continue trail running I need a headlamp for when it's dark.

Ah...so many wants...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Slacker Fridays

I played the slacker today. It is hard to get up on Fridays! Plus I had physical therapy after work, so doing anything in the afternoon was out, and then I had a delicious dinner at Reef with the BF. So, I'm admitting. Slacker=me.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Back in the shoes

Ah...who doesn't love getting up in time before work to run? Oh well, it could have been worse, I could have been running alone! BF joined me for a quick 30 minutes run this morning. About 54 degrees out, wore running tights and my 2009 HOUSTON MARATHON FINISHERS SHIRT (woot). Did not cover my ears - note to self, if you're going to spend 20 bucks on a nice athletic, wicking, insulated headband, wear it.

The first run after a marathon is pretty interesting. Weird things happen. Abnormal things. Like my right calf being tighter then my left. And my left hamstring being a little tight. Gasp. Freeeakkky.

Seriously, I have always had calf problems, but they come and go. They were bothering me during taper time, which could have been mental, and they bothered me at the start of training, when I was attempting to do 5/1s. But now, more often then not, they get tight for a couple miles and then once a good pace settles in, they relax more. And always my left leg is worse then my right.

But overall it was a good, fast paced run for me. 15 minutes out, then back, small negative split (we're not sure exactly where we started running, because we we walking to the street and decided it was too cold to not be running). Covered almost 2.7 miles, in 30 minutes, at a 11.1 min/mile pace. Pretty good for me. The BF typically runs faster then I do, so he has to put up with slowing down for me (major drag I know :-P).

Now, this is an interesting situation I face. What do I do tomorrow? Do I pull out my bike and do some training? Do I weight train? Do I try a yoga class that I've been wanting to do? It's very interesting to be able to have no set schedule and to do whatever I please for a workout. A few options for this weekend: Saturday run with some Houston Fit-ers in Memorial, Saturday run with H T Rex (Houston Trail Runners EXtreme), or Sunday swim with Houston Racing Triathalon Club.

Anyways, I will decide tomorrow and let you guys know :)

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Last day of recovery

So, as today is my last day of recovery, I have nothing fun or interesting to talk about. Or do I???

One of the many projects I have been working on is the Texas Independence Relay. There's a link posted to the right on this page, and it looks to be an awesome time!

In summary, the TIR is a 203 mile relay race from Gonzales to La Porte, following the path of the battle for Texas independence. Teams are typically 8-12 people, although there are some really hardcore people, like DR CPR, who is running solo (amazing ultra-marathoner!!!!) I am team captain of the Texas Speed Bumps! Woot!

Aside from finding team members (which is actually quite hard) I am in charge of quite a lot of organizational stuff for our team. Organizing sleeping quarters, transportation, t shirts, and the big one, how to decide who is running what legs. Fortunately we've got a full team, so only 4 people are running 4 legs, the rest running 3 (there are 40 legs total).

The TIR had a booth at the Houston Marathon expo, where I finally met Jay, who keeps a blog also. I told him I was Amy, the team captian for the Texas Speed Bumps, and he magically pulled my last name out of his head. Impressive! I've emailed him once (twice if you count my entry form).

With everything I've read about the TIR and from what I've seen online (check this out!) the TIR looks like it's going to be awesome! My team:

Mom
SD
Dad
Meghan
Keri
Katie
Shannon
Trisha
MyPhoung
Tom
Jessica
and Me!

Plus we have some back ups and and a supportive pit crew. I've found that as I get closer to the date, I meet people who say, oh yeah I wanted to do that but I couldn't get a team together. And of course, as my race interest continues, I'm meeting more and more runners. So I have no concerns about making it to the starting line of the TIR with a full team!

Anyway, that's a very exciting one coming up.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Props

Let's see it's been about 53 hours since I finished the marathon. I am sore. I can not go down stairs (at least without going backwards anyway). I just gained back my appetite.

I owe a lot to a lot of people. I don't think my mom could say enough how proud of me she was. She ran with me, so did SD and BF, and I am very thankful. Would have been even worse otherwise.

And of course, HoustonFit. Who else would meet me at Memorial Park at 4 30 am in the freezing cold? So big thanks to Rose, Art, and the rest of the Red Lobsters. HoustonFit could not come more highly recommended from me.

That being said, I think HoustonFit and I have to part ways. My goal is to achieve unrealistic running goals. And I achieved one, so far. But one of the best things that has come out of my running experiences has been that I have inspired some other people to start running. BF and I have done a few runs together now (our first long one being a 8 miler to Rice), and we plan on keeping that up. Mom and SD have signed up for the Texas Independence Relay with me, and they have been running together to train. They both came up to run with me the week before the marathon on a brief 6 mile 'long run'. So now I have a goal of mastering my long runs with my small crew - or just on the lonesome.

I have joined another training group, Houston Racing Triathlon Training. I'm not committing to a triathlon yet, but I got a recommendation from a guy I bumped into at physical therapy to join this group. It's cheap (25/year) to join and I can train for cheap in pools and bike with groups. In particular, there is a Sunday afternoon Pool Shark swimming session, group long bike rides, and bricks (bike and run sessions) on Thursday nights. So while someday I will set a goal of a triathlon, right now I want to keep up my long runs and get more cross training in. I would also like to do yoga, but I might have to figure out how to make time stand still before I do that.

So what concrete goals have I made? Austin! BF and I (along with Cousin in Austin and Dad) are running the Austin Half Marathon. I am really looking forward to it, seeing as how it will be a chance to break a PR (since technically a first race is a PR) and it will be BF's first race. Not to mention it's a 3 day weekend, V-day, and there are plenty of personal things going on that weekend. So all in all, should be great!

Next goal: Texas Independence Relay, March 7-8. Can not wait! More on that later!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, January 19, 2009

In trouble

Uh oh. I've been called out for not writing in my blog. I stopped writing because I basically thought it was a stupid idea. I mean, who's going to read my blog? Well, me. And my boyfriend, apparently. And although I may feel stupid writing about mundane things like how many laps around my apartment complex pond I can do in 40 minutes (waayyyy too many), writing a running blog is actually brilliant, for the sole purpose that while no one else may be reading my blog, the most important person to read it is me. It has been proven (even scientifically!) that writing things down consistently helps you stay focused on goals. And man do I need that now, because...


I RAN THE MARATHON! Yay! Wonderful go me! However...

that also means that I am no longer running every Saturday with Houston Fit. No longer will I wake up at 4 30 in the morning with the nagging thought in the back of my head "you PAID for this, there are probably 4-8 people who will notice if you don't show up, and you are already awake. get your ass up and run"

So now I will depend on you, internet world, to keep me on my toes. That and I'm finally going to send the blog link to my parents. And post pictures. And write daily (sorry you have to hear about laps around the pond). And, tell you how my marathon went.

So can you believe it??? I won the marathon. OK, not really. In fact, I barely squeaked in under my goal.

The race day started out beautiful. Nice 60 degrees out. But no no no we live in Texas. It climbed up to the 70s before the end of the race. Not too bad for Deriba Merga, who finished in 2 hours, 7 minutes, and 52 seconds, setting a course record, but pretty nasty for those of us who were still out past 9 30 (read: approximately 20,000 runners and spectators).

So the race starts with a little uphill action (in Houston, who'd have thought it?). Probably the first mile was a gradual slope uphill. We are also running with the half marathoners, so think insane mob. A couple days later someone actually told me that this bridge that we're climbing is the reason so few entrants are allowed in the race - maximum bridge capacity. Along the way, we were cheered on by Elvises (hmm...correct pluralization of Elvis anyone?). From there, winding through Quitman, white oak drive, michaux, 11th, and studewood. All in the heights, all provided a large cheering squad. I would say out in front of 50% of the houses were spectators. Some were subdued (like the young kids who sat on porches in pajamas and waved with their parents), some were serious rabble-rowsers (the groups with beers and - temptation of temptations - mimosas). There were marching bands, cowbells (more cowbell?), and tons of handmade signs. Some of my favorite signs:

"You should see the size of the cookie at the finish"
"this is just a 20 mile warm up for a 10 K race"
"(insert name here) get off your lard ass and run" (seriously)

I also saw some pretty awesome get up among the runners. There were a couple birthdays - I sure hope those people partied hard afterwards. A pair of girls had handmade shirts, and the back of each one said "I run faster then my sister" with an arrow pointing to the right/left. I also liked the foxy ladies (I'll have to find pics) and the ladies in the gold pants with the bras and pink feather tiaras. You know who you are. As far as inspirational quotes, there was a shirt while I was running with the bf that said "there will be a day when you can no longer do this. today is not that day"

Passed the 10K mark with a time of 1:21:09. Which would be 25 minutes faster then the 10K i did back in September. It also puts me at a 13.04 min/mile. Woot woot.

So at mile 9, the halfers (as I affectionately call those who are not as hardcore) U-turned and headed off yonder. Knowing that this was coming up, I developed a completely irrational fear. What if they turn around, and it turns out I'm the only marathon left for like miles. That would explain to everyone around me why I was constantly looking over my shoulder, looking for other full-marathoners. One thing I really liked about this race was that every runner wore a bib with their name, and there group color on it. So all I had to do was look around for blue bibs with white stripes on them. And, everyone along the way knows your name, so you feel like a bit of a celebrity. I tried to acknowledge each cheer for me with a "thank you" or fist pump, or something, because I thought it was really nice for people to be so enthusiastic about it.

Anyway, I digress. Halfers turn around and I'm not the only one left. Yay. The crowd has considerably thinned though, not just in the runners, but the spectators as well. That's where mom made the perfect entrance. It was also quite ironic, because a few minutes later we passed a church, with some clergy outside blessing us with sacred water flayed from olive branches. They didn't even hit me, but it's the thought that counts. And that neither Mom or I started writhing in pain due to our hedonistic atheist ways.

Mom ran with me around rice (where we got blared at by the Rice Owls marching band) and moved into West U - home sweet home (or something - turns out I live like, 50 feet from the West U boundary). I have to give West U great props. They had the best turn out for the marathoner runners overall. There was even a kids party with a bouncy house going on. How cool would it have been to run in and cannonball those kids mid way through the marathon?

Passed the half at 2:50:49, which puts the second split at a 12:54 pace. Negative split bitches!

Here's were it gets tricky. Out of West U, we turn onto Westpark, then the 59 feeder, and we're in the Galleria area. It is not shady. And its getting hot. BF is now running with me, and I'm not as talkative as I was with Mom. Oh and did I mention a big hill on Westpark? Now I know where I'm going for some mean hill training. (Keep in mind this is a Houstonian's perspective).

So I pass the 30K mark at 4:08:41. That's an average 13:20 min/mile pace, and a third split pace of 14:11 min/mile. Damn.

Step-dad joins at mile 19. My wonderful support team is offering me water, dried figs, basically anything. It's hot. Thank god I wore my hat. Step-dad is being a wonderful running partner. He's grabbing 3 or 4 water cups for me at a time at each stop. I'm pouring water over my head to cool off. The Memorial park/ Allen parkway area was tough. I was losing track of the mile markers ("ONLY 23!?! We passed mile 23 30 minutes ago!?! ARGGG!") And the 6 hour pace group passed me. That was a bit of a shot through the heart. I really wanted to finish in a sub 6 hour time. But they are taking walk breaks, and so is everyone around me. SD is being so patient with me. At this point, I'm trying really hard not to focus on the fact that I may not make the cut. Just keep going.

And then we get to the best part of the run. SD and I hit mile 25. I thought, Ok, I have just been on my feet and moving for a ridiculously long time. I can't not finish this. So I tell SD that we're running to the end. No ifs ands or butts (from me of course, SD is a previous marathoner and ultra buff dude!). Coming up the ramp into down town, we run into Aunt M and Uncle J, who run beside me for a few strides and cheer me on. At this point I feel bad for anyone who does this. I look disgusting and sweat soaked, although most of it is really water. And I am probably doing this blank stare thing, and thinking just keep goinnnnngggg.....so I have no idea what incoherent thing I said to AM&UJ. But I am very glad they got to see me running. AM's daughter is a serious athletic inspiration for me. More about her later!

Then we're in downtown. And there is a breeze coming through those buildings. Ahhhh.

Makign the last turn in downtown we run into Dad, who has been waiting (as I later found out) about an hour and a half for me at that spot. He's stiff and sore, but he's running it in with me (for the first time, so the official record says I beat my dad) SD veers off to run outside the barriers. Now people towards the end said "it's just around the corner, then you can see the finish line". Bull. I couldn't see anything (like I'm going to wear my glasses running). So I'm running alongside Dad thinking, ok, where is the finish line? is it too early to sprint? what's going on?

Now let me clarify this timing thing. Least favorite part of the race. They start everyone off in two wave groups. This means that hypothetically, if they started the second wave exactly 10 minutes after the first, then every time sign I pass I need to knock 10 minutes off of it. Plus whatever it took me to get from where I was standing when the gun went off to the start. So basically I have no idea what my time is. And at each clock along the route they have people calling out paces. Well, sometimes. The Houston Half was much better at this. In the beginning, no one was calling out different wave times, and that's way too much math in my head.

So I'm approaching the finish line, and the clock read 6:13 or so. Ahhh...run run run! So I sprint across, I have absolutely no idea what my time is. So what do I do? Start looking for my damn medal. I pass up Felix, the 6 hour pacer, who recognizes me from Houston Fit, and tells me I still made the 6 hour cut off. He's a great encouraging guy. I talked to him once at the very beginning of a run, when I missed my pace group start time. That was he first run where I ran the whole thing. I've also run with him at the Nike Human Race. Oh yeah, and he carries an American flag at the races, so he's pretty easy to spot. I walk into GRB, get a medal, find food with Dad (although I am totally not hungry). We grab our finisher's shirts and mugs, and we head off to find everyone. BF shows me the text message he got right after I crossed the line:

5:59:49 (official time changes this to 5:59:45)

Which puts me at a split pace of 14:36 min/mile, and overall pace of 13:42.

Then..not as much crash as I thought there would be. I'm not hungry, I'm replying the race in my head so I can't sleep. I take an ice bath, and then a hot shower. And it's pretty much over...I will post some recovery stuff later. Thanks for reading!

Edited to add course map and elevation chart: