Saturday, June 2, 2012

Race Report: Hospital Hill Half Marathon

Toward the end of my training for the Hospital Hill Half Marathon, I started to wonder if I was focusing too much on running hills. Maybe I was overdoing it.

I wasn't.

The race started at 7am and the plan was to leave the house bright and early at 5:30am. We left a little later than planned and hit more traffic than we expected but Kim and Liz dropped Nancy and I off just a couple of blocks from the starting area with plenty of time to spare.

When we got to the starting corrals, Nancy was wise and got in the relatively short lines for the porta potties. I was assigned to the first corral and I didn't know how long it would take me to get in so I passed on the porta potties and went to find where I should line up. I realized later that I should have stopped. I got to the line with plenty of time to spare but by the time I realized that, the lines for the porta potties had grown and I had doubts I could get through the lines before the start. Oops.

Kim and Liz parked the car and stopped by my corral to wish me luck. Then they found a spot just up the street to wait for us to run by.

The starting area was divided into several corrals and each corral started the race a couple of minutes after the corral before it. I was in Corral A and we started five minutes after the two wheelchair participants. Then Corral B started a minute or two after us, and so on.

The pacers in my corral had signs that made me feel confident that I was in the right place, but there were guys around me talking about marathons and half marathons that they had won. Who were these people? My best time in a Half is 1:25. On a hilly course in June, I was hoping to run under 1:30. These guys were covered in Boston Marathon gear and talking about winning races. Combine that with the fact that the 5K and 10K runners were also mixed in with us, I made a mental note not to take off too fast because the guys around me were likely to be flying.

At 7:00, they did a countdown, fired a cannon, and we were off and running.

(At the start of the Hospital Hill Half Marathon.)

I gave a quick wave to Liz and Kim and immediately started running uphill. The first mile set the trend for the rest of the race.

(A view of the uphill first mile.)

I expected several hills and thought there might be one beast of a hill that the race was named after. What I got was a seemingly endless string of hills and several of them felt like monsters.

(Hospital Hill Half Marathon Elevation Profile.)

Not only were several of the hills really long... the course seemed to be back-to-back hills the entire way and several of them were quite steep. I quickly became thankful I had run so many hills in the past two months. Otherwise, the number of hills in this race would have been really demoralizing and I think I would have struggled more mentally than I did. As it was, the physical struggle was plenty!

The first mile was uphill but I didn't really know what was coming yet so I was happy with how easy the hill felt. Then I hit the first mile marker and saw that I was going way to fast. I ran the first mile in 6:14. So much for not going out with the speedsters.

I backed way off and tried to settle in but just before Mile 2, the course started up a long, steep hill. This course just doesn't really let you settle in. I thought Nancy might avoid most of the hills since she was doing the 5K but it was hilly early and often so she hit her share of elevation changes.

(Nancy is in the red shirt, waving at Kim and Liz.
Her corral started 5-10 minutes after mine.)

Around Mile 3, I hit one of the longer downhill stretches and tried to take advantage by relaxing and settling into a manageable pace. I probably let myself go a little too much and ran from 3 to 4 a little fast.

About the time I reached Mile 6, Nancy was finishing the 5K and earned her very nice finisher's medal. She finished in 35:07 and was 21st in her age group!

(Liz congratulating Nancy after the 5K.)

(Super Spectator Liz - A seasoned pro!)

(Super Spectator Kim - No one is louder!)

My Garmin watch was right with the mile markers for the first 6 or 7 miles but then the distance report started getting a little off from the mile markers. A little after the 7-mile mark, I saw a couple of porta potties near the top of a hill and I couldn't wait any longer. I had to stop. I should have gone before the race and now I was paying. I had been uncomfortable for the past two miles and I was only going to get slower if I didn't stop.

When I got back on the road, I felt much better and I was coming up on the other long downhill stretch so I was able to pick up the pace again. My bathroom break put me just behind the 1:30 pace group so I slowly tried to reel them back in over the next few miles.

My watch wasn't giving me accurate distance readings anymore and I somehow missed the markers for Miles 9 and 10 so I was just chugging along and trying to keep up what felt like a good pace.

Around Mile 10, I started up the last really long hill. I knew I was getting close to the finish and it was a refreshing change to be close to the end without completely dreading the next few miles. In a full marathon, time seems to slow down so much toward the end of the race, that each mile becomes very intimidating. In a half, I'm three miles from the finish and they feel just like the previous three miles... and the three miles before that. I was definitely tired and the hills were taking a toll, but the miles weren't dragging by.

A little past Mile 12, there was one more uphill stretch that seemed very cruel when I came up to it. It was short but very steep. It reminded me of the onramp you have to run up in the last half-mile of the Chicago Marathon... only worse. I put my head down, cursed the course designers, and slogged my way up the hill. Then I was rewarded by a beautiful downhill stretch that continued all the way to the finish line and all was forgiven!

I lengthened my stride, let gravity do the work, and tried not to look too spent coming into the finish line. 

(Sweet, merciful, downhill running!)

I had caught up to the tail end of the 1:30 pace group and crossed the finish line in 1:29:44.

(A pretty cool finisher's medal for a tough race.)

Any time I can run a half marathon under 1:30, I'm happy but today's race made me earn it. I felt pretty good about my effort and time but I could have done without the bathroom break in the middle. Lesson learned.

I grabbed my bag of snacks provided by the sponsor, Price Chopper, or as some call it... 'The Machine'. Then I met Liz, Kim, and Nancy for some post-race food.

In addition to the normal post-race freebies (bananas, water, etc.), Hospital Hill offers a pair of flip-flops, bar-b-que and beer for all finishers!

(My Finisher's Flip-Flops.)

Unfortunately, my stomach wasn't ready for a lot of food yet so I nibbled a little pulled pork and sipped part of my beer before we all packed up and headed out. Before we left, Nancy and I got one more picture to remember the day we conquered The Hill.
(Sporting our new medals.)

The medals for the races are pretty cool. The 5K medals are yellow. The 10K are red. And the Half Marathon are blue. All of the medals have parts that let light through which is a nice touch. They make an excellent addition to the collection!

(Nancy's 5K Finisher's Medal.)

(My Half Marathon Finisher's Medal.)

(Medal Front.)

(Medal Back.)

(Very nice!)

We stopped at Bread Co. on the way back to the house and my stomach still wasn't ready for real food so I had a Naked protein shake. Yum!!! Luckily, my stomach was plenty ready by the time we had dinner tonight... Kim smoked some ribs and chicken and had people over to celebrate Nancy's birthday!

If only all post-race meals were that good!!!

Goal For The Day: Race!
Distance: 13.10 Miles.
Time: 1:29:44. 6:51 Avg. (6:14, 6:54, 6:46, 6:24, 6:51, 6:57, 7:20, 7:55, 6:30, 6:56, 8:09, 6:51, 5:52*).
Conditions: 55 degrees. 7:00AM.

128th out of 3,344 Finishers.
112th out of 1,694 Men.
23rd out of 245 Men Ages 30-34.

Notes: I couldn't have asked for better weather! If the temperature had been in the 80's or hotter, I'm pretty sure I would have been walking some of those hills. My watch reports I only ran 12.90 miles so I'll take some of the paces from later in the race with a grain of salt. I think the 7:55 was my bathroom break but I know I didn't run an 8:09 for Mile 11. My official split at the 10K was 41:43 and at the 15K was 1:03:29. Next year is the 40th Anniversary of the Half and it would be fun to come back. Maybe I'll run the 10K instead though. Overall, a very fun, challenging race!

Daily Miles: 13.10 Miles.
2012 Totals:
  Run - 416.50 Miles.
  Bike - 0.00 Miles.
  Swim - 8,250 meters.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Hospital Hill Expo

One day to go and that means it's time to hit the expo for packet pick up!

Liz and I took the day off of work (that's right... a 3-day weekend right after a 4-day weekend... life is rough) and drove to Kansas City in time to hit the expo this afternoon. We went to Liz's parents' house first because her mom, Nancy, is running the 5K tomorrow. We all piled in the car and drove to the Crown Center for the expo.

Tomorrow is the 39th Annual Hospital Hill Half Marathon and this year's theme is "Be a Hill Seeker".
(We're having hills for breakfast tomorrow.)
It was a decent sized expo and we followed the feet on the floor inside (even though it turned out they didn't really lead us to the packet pick up like we thought they would.)

(A quick look at the expo.)

We snagged our bib numbers, went over to the table for our t-shirts, and we even got a free pair of technical socks as part of our registration!
(Nancy picking up her bib for the 5K.)

(Our race shirts. The back says
"I Conquered The Hill".)

(A nice pair of socks as an added bonus!)

We walked through the expo and as usual, I wanted to sign up for every-other race that was advertised. There was a table for the Tulsa Marathon and the past few years' medals were on display. They haven't revealed this year's medal yet, but it got me excited for November!

There were some cool products on display but nothing I desperately needed. I would have bought some new Nike Frees but they didn't have my size so I left without purchasing anything. Nancy bought a nice, official Hospital Hill headband.

I have to admit, I was disappointed by the lack of edible samples at the expo. No Powerbar. No Gatorade. Nothing! I snagged a few mini candy bars, but that was it. But we made up for the lack of snacks by heading to dinner.

Tonight, I experienced Five Guys Burgers and Fries for the first time. Yum! My cheeseburger hit the spot, the fries were delicious, and they had free peanuts!!!
(Nancy and Liz looking lovely at Five Guys.)

Even with the tasty food, my favorite part of the meal had to be the soda machines from the future. They were electronic soda fountains with a touch screen. A TOUCH SCREEN!... FOR A SODA FOUNTAIN!!! There were 22 different types of soda to choose from. Then... when you touched the kind you wanted, a new screen pops up with the sub-varieties for you to choose from. You want Coke? Okay... Coke? Diet Coke? Coke Zero? Caffeine Free Coke? Orange Coke? Vanilla Coke? The possibilities are practically endless!
(Kim conquered his fear of technology and had a soda.
That's right... a soda... not a 'pop'.)

(I was expecting kids to ride in on hoverboards
or our burgers to be served in pill form.)

After having my mind blown by the glimpse into the future of beverage dispensers, we went to Orange Leaf for some self-serve frozen yogurt. I had a bowl of the Oreo flavored frozen yogurt with all kinds of toppings: cookie dough, Oreo crumbles, graham cracker crumbles, and a couple of strawberries to keep it healthy. I was very aware of the irony involved since I recently received an email from a friend asking me for advice on running and nutrition. So, Brian... Five Guys and Orange Leaf... probably not the ideal pre-race meal, but it sure was delicious!

Now for a good night's sleep and tomorrow, we race!!!

Goal For The Day: Rest and Expo.
Distance: 0.00 Miles.

Notes: It was cool and overcast all day today. Tomorrow is supposed to be sunnier but nice and cool. Perfect timing!!!

Daily Miles: 0.00 Miles.
2012 Totals:
  Run - 403.40 Miles.
  Bike - 0.00 Miles.
  Swim - 8,250 meters.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Too Much Tapering

This isn't exactly how tapering is supposed to go.

I haven't run since last Saturday. Oops. With the boat race and a day full of friends on Sunday, I didn't bother to go for a run. Then I went with the guys for nine holes of golf Monday morning (turns out I'm still not good at golf), and spent the afternoon soaking up as much family time as I could. When I got home Monday night, my allergies exploded and I slept about 3 hours that night so a morning run on Tuesday was out.

The rest of the week has been busy with work and baby stuff (birthing class, doctor check-up, meeting our pediatrician), but the bottom line is, once I got past Tuesday, I didn't want to do any running that would take away from Saturday. So here I am on Thursday with absolutely no running in the past five days.

At least my legs should be nice and rested by Saturday!

Goal For The Day: Rest.
Distance: 0.00 Miles.

Notes: On the bright side, it's getting cooler as the week goes on and the race-time temperature is supposed to be in the 50's!!!

Daily Miles: 0.00 Miles.
2012 Totals:
  Run - 403.40 Miles.
  Bike - 0.00 Miles.
  Swim - 8,250 meters.

Monday, May 28, 2012

You're Gonna Need A Bigger Boat

This morning was the 10th Annual Michael Kinnear Memorial Regatta!

We had more boats than we expected and a lot of them showed impressive creativity and engineering. We had boaters of all ages powering their homemade boats down the cove and back and most of them were in really great costumes!

I finished my Shark Attack boat and I was happy with the final look even if I didn't get the mouth to open and close while I rowed. (I forgot some parts at home.)

Rowing my boat worked well but I'm not convinced it was faster than my kayaks were. In fact, our friend, Blake, rowed an updated version of his kayak and beat me soundly. But we were both outdone by some really impressive engineering. A couple of guys built a massive plywood boat and decorated it like a battleship. Inside, they had the motor from a log splitter that powered the hydrolics for a homemade propellor. This thing was a behemoth! And it was cruising along faster than a trolling motor would have moved it! They took home the coveted Capri Cup and were very deserving of the prize!

I took home the 3rd Place trophy and (even better) made it to the end of the cove and back without killing myself. I Love this race!!!
(Momma's Gotta Eat!)

I didn't run today. I'll pretend rowing my boat was enough of a workout. (And just pretend I didn't eat my weight in pulled pork and appetizers at the party tonight.)

Goal For The Day: Boat Race!
Distance: 0.00 Miles.

Notes: I only plan to run a little tomorrow and Tuesday and then it's a lot of resting my legs for Saturday. It's been a while since I've run any races, so I'm getting excited!

Daily Miles: 0.00 Miles.
2012 Totals:
  Run - 403.40 Miles.
  Bike - 0.00 Miles.
  Swim - 8,250 meters.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Short Long Run Gets Me To 400 Miles.

I couldn't have asked for a more relaxing final long run for my training.

It's supposed to be in the mid-to-upper 90's today and tomorrow but even at 78 degrees, this morning's run felt pretty comfortable. I didn't push the pace too hard and there was a very nice breeze keeping me cool so I cruised through two laps around the Lake.

The first lap was very consistent right under 7 minutes per mile and then I eased off for the last couple of miles. I'm supposed to be tapering, after all. I Love running down here. Catching glimpses of the Lake during the loop and then running across the dam... it doesn't get much better.

Today was also a test run for a new piece of gear. I had to buy some more duct tape for my boat yesterday and while I was in the hardware section, I saw a stand full of sunglasses that claimed to "block out dust, wind, and allergens". They have a strip of foam padding around the frames that basically keep them in contact with your face. They were only $10 so I grabbed a pair hoping they would help eliminate the painful sting of sweat in my eyes that I get on really hot days.

These things worked like a charm! They aren't the coolest looking sunglasses and it took me a little while to get used to them touching my face, but I didn't get a single drop of sweat in my eyes! If it's this hot next weekend, I'm definitely wearing them during the half marathon.

Goal For The Day: Long Run.
Distance: 6.32 Miles.
Time: 46:36. 7:22 Avg. (6:56, 6:58, 7:17, 7:15, 7:49, 7:49, 2:28*).
Route: 2 x Lake Loop.
Conditions: 78 degrees. 9:26AM.
Run Details On Garmin

Notes: It's nice when my 'long run' is only 6 miles! Tomorrow is the big boat race. I'll probably count rowing my boat as a workout so I have an excuse to take the day off from running! I'll pick it up again on Monday.

Daily Miles: 6.32 Miles.
2012 Totals:
  Run - 403.40 Miles.
  Bike - 0.00 Miles.
  Swim - 8,250 meters.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Four Day Weekend!

I took the day off of work to run some errands and get things ready for our trip to the Lake. But like a good little runner, I didn't take the day off from FiveFingers Friday!

(I found this book through my usual Google image search...
now I really want it on my bookshelf!)

Before I got to the rest of today's to-do list, I went over to the track for one last sprint session in my FiveFingers before next week's race. I jogged a little warm-up and then ran a mile of sprinting the straight-aways and jogging the curves. I didn't quite go all out today since I'm supposed to be tapering, but I still got up to speed and stretched my stride out. Going fast just feels too good in these shoes... I couldn't resist opening it up a little!

Goal For The Day: Speedwork.
Distance: 2.00 Miles.
Time: Untimed.
Route: Eureka H.S. Track.
Conditions: 74 degrees. 7:00AM.

Notes: 0.5 mile warm-up. 1 Mile of UCLA 100's. 0.5 mile cool-down. Getting warmer... literally and figuratively!

Daily Miles: 2.00 Miles.
2012 Totals:
  Run - 397.08 Miles.
  Bike - 0.00 Miles.
  Swim - 8,250 meters.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Final Doom

This is the last time I'll be running the Never Ending Hill Of Doom for a while. The Hill doesn't intimidate me as much as it used to and I'll still work it into my training from time to time, but I think I'll take a break from it after today.

I won't be running any hill repeats next week so this is my last hill-centric workout before the race. Even though I'm running The Hill, I'm cutting back as part of my taper so I only ran up it twice today.

Maybe it was because I knew I only had to do it twice, but I seemed to have an easier time attacking The Hill today. I pushed myself more than I have the last couple of times I ran here and I still felt pretty comfortable. (As comfortable as you can running up a long, steep hill.)

Maybe all of this hill work is paying off and I'll be ready to face the hills on race day!

Goal For The Day: Hill Repeats.
Distance: 3.97 Miles.
Time: 31:14. 7:52 Avg. (7:00, 7:18, 8:42, 8:12*).
Route: 2 x Never Ending Hill Of Doom.
Conditions: 70 degrees. 7:28AM.
Run Details On Garmin

Notes: The temperature has been creeping up every morning this week and Saturday and Sunday are supposed to be in the mid-90's. I hope there's another cool-down on the way after that. Gulp!

Daily Miles: 3.97 Miles.
2012 Totals:
  Run - 397.08 Miles.
  Bike - 0.00 Miles.
  Swim - 8,250 meters.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Five Thousands

I went to the track this morning to run the workout I missed Monday night. School must be out because I left the only footprints in the Field of Dew.

I was dreading this workout a little. Running with the group on Monday nights has been so helpful that even the tough sprints went better than they would have if I ran them alone. Today's workout was 5 x 1,000 meters with 3 minutes of rest between intervals. I really expected to struggle through the workout and not enjoy myself.

I was pleasantly surprised!

I went with the same goal pace from the past few weeks (1:25 per lap) which set a goal of running each interval in 3:32. Between the cooler weather and an easier workout yesterday, the first interval felt really good. After that, I expected each interval to feel harder and harder but I made it through all five with a fairly even perceived effort. That might have been a sign that my rest period between intervals was too long but I was feeling good so I didn't mess with it.

There isn't a track session next week because of Memorial Day so I'll pick it up again after the half marathon.
Goal For The Day: Speedwork.
Distance: 5.10 Miles.
Time: 5 x 1,000m (3:30, 3:31, 3:31, 3:31, 3:30).
Route: Eureka H.S. Track.
Conditions: 59 degrees. 7:15AM.

Notes: I still ran the warm-up that I would have done at the group session. Not a bad workout. I hope I keep feeling this good over the next two weeks!
Daily Miles: 5.10 Miles.
2012 Totals:
  Run - 393.11 Miles.
  Bike - 0.00 Miles.
  Swim - 8,250 meters.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Winding Down

Less than two weeks until I run Hospital Hill and it's time to back off of my training.

This week will still be the basic schedule I've been following but I'll be backing off of the distance and number of hills as the first stage of my taper. Then I'll get in a couple of easy runs early next week before resting completely the few days before the race.

Today was Top Notch Tuesday but I cut back to only 4 repeats. I took the jog before and after the repeats nice and easy but tried to push myself on the sprints up the hill. After all of the hills I've been running, four times up Top Notch feels like a very short workout, which is good because I can tell I need the recovery time.

I've been feeling a little drained the past week or two and I'm hoping the reduced workload will help me bounce back in time for the race.
Goal For The Day: Hill Repeats.
Distance: 2.93 Miles.
Time: 25:42. 8:45 Avg. (8:17, 9:06, 8:17*).
Route: 4 x Top Notch.
Conditions: 54 degrees. 7:26AM.
Run Details on Garmin

Notes: I'm Loving the temps in the mid-50's. I would take this on race day, for sure!

Daily Miles: 2.93 Miles.
2012 Totals:
  Run - 388.01 Miles.
  Bike - 0.00 Miles.
  Swim - 8,250 meters.

Monday, May 21, 2012

First Baseball Game Of The Season

I missed this week's track session because we had tickets to tonight's Cardinals game. It was our first game of the season and Ben and Maja were in town so it was perfect timing!

It was a cool night and felt more like fall baseball than a game in May. In fact, Liz ended up borrowing my jersey before the game was over just to stay warm. The game got off to a slow start but got interesting late with a lot of scoring in the 7th and 8th innings. Tyler Greene's two-run homer in the 8th was the difference maker and we beat the Padres 4-3. It was nice to see a four game losing streak come to an end and we held on to our first place position over the Reds.

As an added bonus, Lance Berkman's doppelganger was sitting two rows in front of us. Of course, Berkman's on the DL with knee problems so for all we know, the Puma was sitting in our section tonight!

It's always nice spending time with Ben and Maja and we saw a great game from the cheap seats!

Goal For The Day: Rest.
Distance: 0.00 Miles.

Notes: I plan to run the workout I missed tonight on Wednesday instead.

Daily Miles: 0.00 Miles.
2012 Totals:
  Run - 385.08 Miles.
  Bike - 0.00 Miles.
  Swim - 8,250 meters.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

At Least There Were Things To Look At

Ugh. Another hot morning.

It was a scorcher today. I didn't start my run early, but I was still out the door at a reasonable time. It didn't matter. It still felt hot on my long run today. There was even a breeze and the temperature wasn't as high as it will be later in the summer, but I was dogging it today.

I ran to Route 66 State Park, ran two laps, and then ran home. It was hot in the park because the breeze wasn't as strong and my second lap was slower than the first. Then the run home slowed down to the 8-minute range and I basically jogged the last mile as a cool-down.

I haven't been hydrating during my long runs like I did when I was training for New York and I think that's becoming an issue now that I'm creeping over 8 miles at a time. Tonight I noticed I had a very mild sunburn so the heat and sun were probably bad enough that I should have hydrated during the run.

There were a few perks to today's long run though. I was treated to several interesting sightings along the way:

The first was that the Sno Biz snow cone shack was being set up in town!!! I Love snow cones and I'm working my way through the entire menu of flavors at Sno Biz. Seeing them set up shop on my way through town made my morning. Unfortunately, I also passed them on my way back and they were more of a cruel tease almost 9 miles into a 10+ mile run.

When I was in the park, I passed an absolutely gorgeous butterfly that was sitting on a disgustingly large pile of dog poop. It was there on both laps so it must have been enjoying itself and I found it oddly humorous. I'm sure there's a lot of poetic irony in that image and I was sorry I left the camera at home today. Apparently, I'm not the only one who finds this sight mesmerizing because I did a google image search and plenty of people have pics of this very thing. For some reason, just seeing a picture of a butterfly on poop is a little gross though so I'll post a pic of this t-shirt instead:

Finally, when I topped the hill on Central on my way home, I had to stop at the intersection to wait for traffic. While I was waiting, a field mouse came darting through the intersection, dodging cars frantically as it ran through the busy street. It ran right past my feet and head-first into the curb. I guess it was in full-on fight or flight mode and ran into the curb in a panic. The little guy shook it off, hopped the curb, ran into the grass and bushes, and disappeared. I feel like it's pretty rare that I see mice (thankfully), let alone one dodging through an intersection, and especially not successfully. Good for him!

I got home, showered, put on my compression sleeves and took it easy for a couple of hours. Then Liz and I went out for some more yard work (The yard is looking good!) and the temperature dropped drastically as some rain moved in. Good old Missouri weather... always changing. I know I keep saying this, but I hope it decides to cool off for race day.

Goal For The Day: Long Run.
Distance: 10.21 Miles.
Time: 1:18:27. 7:41 Avg. (7:08, 7:08, 7:16, 7:35, 7:14, 7:30, 7:35, 7:53, 8:09, 8:53, 2:02*).
Route: To Rte. 66/1 Lap/Home.
Conditions: 75 degrees. 9:29AM.
Run Details On Garmin

Notes: It was only 75 degrees at the start and almost 85 degrees by the time I finished. No wonder I felt like slowing down. I know this is better than when I'll be running in the mid-90's but I'm still being teased with 50 degree mornings right now. I'm also hoping that part of this is mental and physical fatigue from dense training. Hopefully on race day, I'll be rested and able to average 45-60 per mile faster than this. Hopefully. Not a single mile under 7-minute pace today. Ugh.

Daily Miles: 10.21 Miles.
2012 Totals:
  Run - 385.08 Miles.
  Bike - 0.00 Miles.
  Swim - 8,250 meters.