Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Four Weeks and Forty Kilometres of Racing

It has been a very busy and satisfying last month of running with four weekends of back-to-back racing in addition to some big training weeks gearing up for the Wings for Life World Run in May. I've suddenly found myself deep into an outdoor track season as if I were still in college, complete with running faster than ever and top placings amongst competitive fields.

To begin this latest stretch of racing we actually have to go back six weeks to March 1st where I ran the Houston Rodeo 10km road race. I had a fourth place finish and a great head-to-head battle the entire last mile with Maximo Mendoza, that is until he laid a fierce kick on my legs that had still yet to do any actual speed training. I was extremely happy with my time of 32:37 as it was my first glimpse at getting back to full speed and right amongst regular training weeks. More impressive was the ages of the top two performers, both masters!

2014 ConocoPhillips Houston Rodeo Run - March 1st
1st - Sammy Kilplagat Cheptoo - 30:42 (age 40)
2nd - Kevin Castille - 30:50 (age 41, well known Cajun runners from Lafayette)
3rd - David Fuentes - 31:42 (would later beat at the Rice 5000m)
4th - Maximo Mendoza - 32:20 (former HBU- coached by former UH coach T. Fuqua)
5th - Calum Neff - 32:37

TSU Relays 5000m

Starting off the four weeks of fury was the Texas Southern University (TSU) Relays 5000m event. The relays is more known for their prominent high school and college sprinting competitions with stands packed full of culture. Coming to this meet is always a lot of fun, its just across the street from UH in the neighbouring 5th ward area of Houston. Julie and Aley really enjoyed taking in this wild new environment of exciting races and local vendors around the track, the BBQ smoke is not so great for the distance events! This meet reminds me of a Southern version of the Drake Relays where people are walking around chomping on massive turkey legs! One of the best parts was catching up with some familiar faces, coaches from around Houston and USATF official Marion Jones who snapped some great pictures.

The TSU 5000m had been one of my last descent performances on the track in 2007 when I won with a new personal record of 15:06. I never ran a good 5k on the track throughout college which is disappointing considering the potential. This years race was really gearing up to be a fast one with Harvard on their annual spring break trip to Houston expected to race. Back in my day they never really had a good distance group but this year included four guys under 15 minutes with their top guy  (Canadian) holding a sub 14 seed time from indoor season. Unfortunately they no showed for the hot, humid, and windy race so I was left out there fighting solo against some local college athletes. My final mile was a little weak except a descent kick in the last lap with my second (middle) mile being the fastest. Another step closer to my old (younger) self with a time of 15:22 and first place finish (forty seconds ahead of the next athlete). I enjoyed the commentary during the race "and here comes Calum Neff, University of Altra/Luke's Locker, chasing the chase pack"

Rice University Distance Carnival - Victor Lopez Classic

 Just seven days later I was really excited to get on the track for my first ever track 10,000m race, but it would never happen. With an already late night schedule a massive storm delayed the Friday night races by two hours so with a last minute decision and generous Rice/meet staff I was into the 5000m once the meet restarted.

Around 10:30PM we finally got lined up for the 5000m, all 46 of us (combined two heats to condense schedule) I was position 17 out of about 30 on the first row with the 2nd waterfall start position holding the rest.

You know it's a distance event when you can fit nearly four athletes per lane!

The thought of 92 feet wearing spikes in such a small area is certainly daunting. But as soon as the gun went off I had one of my signature starts, as if I jumped the gun I was immediately outfront and out of trouble. As we came out of the first curve the second group off the other start began merging in with us. I began to relax and settled in to the back of the lead pack where I would remain for the next 12 laps.

The night was gorgeous, although it could have been cooler the air had been washed clean by the rain and even though the puddles on the track reminded me a bit of cross country, as my face was sprayed by the rooster tails of front runners, the track was fast under my spikes and I felt good.

I didn't look at my watch or even bother to record splits, I just ran. I could feel it was one of those races that only come ever so often, the ones that feel easy yet break a barrier never before touched. The atmosphere under the lights formed a tunnel around the inner two lanes; fans in the stands down the homestretch, the clock and officials at the finish, coaches and athletes screaming the entire back stretch, and an even bigger pack at the 200m mark where we had started. Coaches barked orders and rattled off split times while banging their clipboards, this section of the track was almost too much energy, I'm accustomed now to disappearing into the empty forest and returning hours later to an awaiting race director. 

As the race went on the 46 athletes surrounded the track, I was still up front a moving past both people who were falling of pace and those being lapped- I was completely lost in my position or who was first and last. The pace was uncomfortable, don't get me wrong, but I could turn off the doubt and the questioning of wether it was too fast. I just kept pushing and before I knew it was into the final two laps, not wanting to finish with any regrets, I began changing gears and trying to make moves on those in front. Seeing that clock read 13 minutes with a lap to go and gas left in the tank was exciting. I didn't even realize how far up I was and that the leader finished just over seven seconds ahead, I was too thrilled with my new personal best time of 14:47.29! That was good enough for a third place finish amongst the open devision behind Kiya Dandena (14:39.46) and Adam Saloom (14:43.8 - of Team Green, brothers old coach).

Friends Marcel and Heidi had stuck out the long night, long after Torchy's Taco's had closed, to watch me race and having them there was perfect. I think Marcel was more excited than I was but then again I was dealing with the tell tale signs of a great race- letting my stomach out on the infield.

Hells Hills La Sportiva Cup Series 25km

Gearing up for an ultra I needed a long run with roughly four weeks of training left, races can work out great for training as you can treat them as fully supported long runs. Hells Hills lined up well for timing and they had 10/25/50km and 50mi options but the 25km caught my eye as its part of the La Sportiva series and there was guaranteed to be some fast guys coming in from out of town.

I caught a ride out to Rocky Hill Ranch with a group of friends from Lifetime Fitness and the Houston Area Trail Runners, it was about an hour and a half from Katy and we made it just in time for packet pickup. I also squeaked a couple mile run in on the course before it got dark. Really nice to hang out and meet some more MUT runners but was surprised at how tame everyone was (except Jose's pleasure palace, but thats another story) going to bed early and complaining of noise... I didn't get a great sleep in the tent and by the time I did finally fall asleep the 50 mile race started up and came past my tent like a stampede, followed by the 50k an hour later.

The race started with a rather awkward u-turn inside the finish/lap chute but was wide open dirt road for the first few hundred meters till we hit the single-track. With some confidence coming off the track the last two weeks I put the peddle to the floor and just hammered- my race strategy for trail running is when the conditions (trail, weather, you, etc.) allow for fast running you hammer cause the hills, technical sections, feeling like shit, and weather (heat) is going to kill your average pace. Of course you need to keep something in the tank but I decided to just let it all play out. I dragged the two Sportiva guys out way harder than they were expecting, I could hear them struggling behind me. Just when they would creep up on me we would hit extremely technical downhill sections and I would sail ahead, unfortunately there just wasn't enough of it.

The lead between Ryan Woods (course record holder) and me traded off a few times, I much preferred being chased than being behind. We were competitive but polite with the passing and it lasted about the first 5 miles where I made the mistake of letting a small gap form. This gap remained the rest of the race and ranged between 20 seconds up to about a minute or more. The back side of the course kind of dragged on for me after a mishap at the first aid station shook me up, no water was out and I grabbed coke eventually finding gatorade which I barely got down before I had to throw it in a mandatory garbage bin (the aid station was more setup for ultra running rather than the speed we were going and was an awesome ultra aid station at that). I carried a few gels and popped them a little early in anticipation for the 10 mile aid station (for some water to wash them down). Coming back in I started feeling better and better the closer I got to the finish, at this point we were passing a lot of ultra runners and seeing people I knew really got me pumped up. Ryan and I started seeing each other  on the tight technical switchbacks which were really hard to make any significant ground up on but once we opened up on the last 1.5 miles of less technical course I was shortening the lead. In the end Ryan (1:36:16) was 17 seconds ahead of me (1:36:33) and he wasn't too far off his course record (1:35:22). Of note, that same year the record was set (2012), Robert Krar placed third in 1:35:53.

Shortly after finishing I got together with the 5th place finisher, 17 year old Ford Smith (1:49:19) from Austin. He's recently started doing ultras in addition to his high school track and XC commitments so he was happy to join me for a second loop. Race director, Joe, was super nice to let us use all the aid station during our "cool down" loop and while we cut out a few switchbacks on the in the daily total with warm up was right around 50+km. The two loops were done in about 3:50 without the gap in the middle which would have been an outright winning time for the 50k race. Great having some company out there, Ford's going to be a someone to keep an eye on in the ultra world. Just under a week later he took the districts title in the two mile on the track in Austin!

Post race I enjoyed the company of other racers, watching friends run 50 miles, a visit to Bucee's in Bastrop. So impressed by all the ultra runners, the course was tough, not your typical forgiving trail- racing on the rocks and tight twists were like being in a car wreck!

UALR Open 5000m

Finally, before I take a much needed weekend off from racing, I took a road trip up to Little Rock with my little girl Aley. It's an eight hour drive from Houston including a few stops. Fortunately we have a DVD player in the car which came pre-installed with Dumb and Dumber stuck inside. We watched it three times on the way there and four on the way back! UALR is where I first went to school before transferring to Houston. They never had a track so we always worked out on neighbouring high school tracks but finally their new facility was ready and I was invited up to be part of an Alumni breakfast, unveiling, and be one of the first to race on the track.

Typical Southern conditions- hot, humid, and windy made for an easy race tactic decision to just race and not worry about time. Except for maybe one lap of someone else breaking the wind I ran solo up front most the race with one UALR athlete drafting. I had no problems with it and really wanted to see him run under 15' and did my best to keep us on pace waiting for his kick. Unfortunately he fell off in the last mile and ended up third to another UALR athlete. I felt comfortable the whole race and really enjoyed seeing my little girl on the side watching me go around. Leah Thorvilson was nice enough to watch her and said every lap Aley would say "buh bye" and wave. My calf seized with around 150m to go, had it been any earlier I would have probably pulled the pin as running on it cramped up is when most the damage is done. Really frustrating to have this injury continually pop up. But I slid into home with the rest of the field closing quickly behind, fun to return as an alum and win their first meet.

The rest of the weekend was spent visiting friends. Little Rock is really cleaning up nicely and being around familiar faces really made me miss being there. Having kids Aley could play with and people to visit like we would in Canada is something we don't really have here in Houston yet. Will definitely be making my way back there soon, maybe for the Go! Mile in June.

I plan to have a a blog post soon covering all my training this year, training to be competitive in races from one mile to forty miles and also breaking my 5k personal best time are really making things interesting. This week I'm taking it fairly easy with my calf feeling bruised, lots of cross training and easy runs as part of Boston Marathon tributes (bombing anniversary today), also have a trail run organized for Easter Sunday morning leaving from Luke's Locker Katy at 7:00, open to all.

Boston Tribute

Today is the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings, I found the below paragraph sitting in the draft folder of my blog, never published. Tonight and Thursday I will be joining my run groups for tribute runs and wishing those off to race Boston this weekend to have a good race. This year will be bigger than ever which is great to see, unfortunately the terror still looms. I remember being at the Houston marathon, despite tons of police and military presence, feeling completely vulnerable packed into a large group. It sucks that such positive events have that feeling attached now.

I had many friends in Boston last year and have since met many more that were there and they all have been scarred like a soldier from war. Before tonight's run at the gym we had a large gathering of people and one of my new friends Sarah spoke to us about her experience last year and her feelings about going back to Boston this Friday. She had finished her marathon an hour before the bombings but had made her way back towards the start looking for her Aunt. She says sirens, loud noises like fireworks, and helicopters will never be the same. The faces full of fear of injured people, look of complete terror, still haunt her today. But amongst the horrendous scene she witnessed true love and compassion as people helped each other. This weekend she goes back to run for everyone part of last years events and take back the the true Boston Marathon and marathon spirit that was stripped away from us all. Best of luck Sarah and everyone else in Boston.

I wrote these words one year ago today but never finished/published:

Today's tragic events at the Boston Marathon have struck sadness deep inside me. There is a lot of news that commonly passes by me in this overloaded world with little to no emotional reaction but not this one. I was not at the Boston Marathon, I have never been to Boston, and I have never even officially run a marathon race but my love of running and the realationships I have made because of it connected me (to the race) more than I realized until the tragedy.

Reading that reminds me that running really is the foundation of who I am and the many connections I have throughout this world.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fools Compilation

While I have some great pranks of my own in mind I didn't have time to do the necessary preparations so while I leave those in my back pocket for next year I share with you some of my favourite online pranks I've seen today: 

From the recently formed Skyrunning Canada- a series of mountain running events that has been popular in Europe for quite some time is now expanding around the world. Canada is lucky to have Adam Campbell leading the charge on the series (and i'm sure he's behind this latest post). 

"In order to properly showcase the topography of allparts of the country,Skyrunning Canadais pleased to announce that we've been given special permission from the International Skyrunning Federation to host the first ever horizontal kilometre in Skyrunning history. The first race will take place in Beaver Flat Saskatchewan on August 24th. I hope you will all join us for this historic event."
Skyrunning Canada's Horizontal Kilometer Race

From Slowtwitch.com comes a new study revealing that leg hair, when shaved in aerodynamic patterns, improves performance over going completely clean shaven. Something that I like to call HAIRODYNAMICS! 

"Shaving patterns that allowed more robust turbulent boundary layers to form were better at delaying flow separation, which significantly reduced drag!" 

Photos from new study on hairodynamics by Slowtwitch (click for article)

USATF announces new 2 x 100m Human-Canine Relay You can check out the video here, my favourite has to be the addition of Nick Symmonds rabbit, literally, for the races. 

Mortimer Symmonds will the pace rabbit for the Human-Canine 2 x 100m relays at the 2014 outdoor nationals!
Other notables include the popular Alberta ultra Sinister 7 announcing their move to Sinister 8 with an additional 22km (like it wasn't hard enough!). "In order to take advantage of the amazing terrain along the Continental Divide, we are recreating the race as the Sinister 8 Ultra! This will mean the addition of 22km and an extra stage" 

Dynafit announces it will no longer produce bindings "With the lack of demand and the fading 'buzz' around backcountry skiing Dynafit will no longer produce bindings... It was a good run!" 

Arc'teryx announces name change to Archeopteryx! And don't worry, if you already own clothing with the old Arc'teryx logo, they will be recalling all items worldwide to change to Archaeopteryx, see the video below on how the hell to pronounce the new name and some genuine Canadian feedback on the change. To take up slack on the missing apostrophe, Gripped Magazine came to the rescue and will now be Gripp'd! 

The pranks just keep rolling in, Letsrun.com announcing bankruptcy due to Obama and on and on... maybe I will update this at the end of the day but lunch time is over, back to work!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

On the Road - Salomon Running TV S03 E05

Check out the latest Salomon Running TV series on the Canadian Death Race record holder, Rickey Gates, as he runs and motorbikes between Colorado and California.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Apparently, Spikes Are (Not) Scary

Late last year my friend and fellow post-collegiate runner, Collier Lawrence, wrote on her "Steepling in the Sierras" blog about dreadfully returning to spikes after a long, injury induced, break. "Apparently, Spikes Are Scary" While it was very motivating it didn't make me want to immediately overcome all my own fears and hesitations and hit the track. That is until recently I decided its time, after a long preparation period, my body (and mind) are ready.

Like Collier I suffered an injury, mine happened during a cross country race (Canadian Nationals) and was partly due to being in spikes and not being used to wearing them. Spikes are very minimalist shoes with a plate allowing for varying lengths of spikes to be screwed into the bottom giving better traction on almost all surfaces softer than concrete. With improved grip and near zero weight the shoe allows for faster running than any other option but it comes at the cost of little to no support or impact resistance (cushioning). The spikes promote "running on your toes" and even seasoned track stars can have major issues with achilles and calf strains by doing too much volume in them. Since my injury I've attempted to wear spikes multiple times with each session ending almost emmedietley in a calf cramp or tear. This is also just a huge part of getting older, if a high school athlete ever read this blog I'm sure they would be laughing- sure when I was 17 I could have run a road race in two inch spikes and probably still be fine but give it ten years and see who is laughing!

While my only road shoe lately has been the complete opposite of a spike (the humongous Hoka One One) I have been prepping myself to finally put the spikes, with now aged and yellowing glue at the seams, back on. Here are a few of my preparations and recommendations to easing into a pair of spikes for the first time (or after a long break):

Let injuries heal: If you have suffered an injury its going to need time to heal, that is time where you are not re-injuring yourself or changing the way you run that causes a secondary injury. To properly heal I recommend the Graston technique to decrease scar tissue and allow proper healing (muscle fibres in right direction: uniformed and aligned). Graston is basically like taking a soft edge knife to your soft tissue, sound painful? Yes it is (sometimes/some places). Be sure to take care of this within the first two years after an injury otherwise the mess of tissue, depending on how it healed, is pretty much there to stay.

When you're ready for strengthening there are plenty of drills everyone should be doing for core and stability. For calfs specifically I find the heel drop program to work great. Start with both your heels hanging off the edge of a step, raise slowly up on toes and drop down quickly with a little bounce at the end- repeat. You can do this everyday for rehab or a few times a week for maintenance, build of number of repetitions and sets, 2-3 sets of 10 is plenty. Once you are comfortable there you can move to single legs but start with low reps and sets, I find the single leg can be a little too much and usually just go with the doubles.

In addition to heel drop I really like skipping with a jump rope- great for cadence and proper foot landing but also starts getting your lower legs ready for impact. Easy barefoot running on a safe and soft surface to build foot and lower leg strength, I like to cool down on the infield of a track.

One of the biggest factors I neglected for so long was my choice in the everyday shoe, its great to be in the right shoe for your running but thats only 30-60 minutes a day, we are all on our feet much longer than that. I have found that low heel drop (up to 5mm height difference from heel to toe) or zero drop shoes (the heel is at the same height as the forefoot) to be the best for my lower legs especially. The bigger the heel lift in your shoe the less range of motion of the achilles. Check out Altra footwear, they have a full range of road, trail, and even some dress shoes that have zero drop and a comfortable toe box.

Once you have a solid base of running and strength and your ready for workouts go ahead and hit the track, but not so fast- stay in the same shoes you have been doing all your normal runs in. Keep the pace controlled and the volume low, increasing intensity and track mileage over a few weeks. Start with some longer repeats and finish off with some strides, your body needs to get use to the corners and running faster.

Introduction to spikes: Alright, you've made it this far but don't blow it now or you have to go back to the start (believe me). I started off with a mile of in-and-outs: stride the straight aways and jog the corners. Once this workout eased my mind and the calfs didn't revolt I started putting my spikes on during the last rep or two of a full track workout. A couple weeks of low spike volume and keeping up all the above exercises should allow for a seamless transition.

I found this article by Running Writings also very helpful regarding achilles tendonitis but applies to other lower leg issues.

Stay healthy my friends.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Houston Marathon Race Review

Wow wow wow!!! So excited!

This was the biggest race I have been in by far and it was run (by all the organizers and volunteers) incredibly well.

Pre-strart: Really late dinner at an Italian restaurant, lots of bread and an aglio olio style pasta- woke up just reeking of garlic! Had a pretty good sleep at my moms place closer to downtown Houston, despite a very early morning I felt rested and ready to go. Started hydrating with First Endurance EFS solution and had a pop tart and a honey stinger waffle on the drive in.

Security was hefty but no delay getting in using the provided clear bags. Throughout the day I saw police, bomb squad, lots of dogs, and uniformed military personnel. I'm sure there were way more involved than what we could see. It was hard not to think of the events from last year in Boston, I can't even imagine something like that happening. Being amongst so many people despite the security presence brought on a feeling of extreme vulnerability, pitty such a gathering of high, positive, energy can be tarnished.

Once inside the convention center I met up with the Lifetime Fitness gym group and got geared up:

  • Head band for the sweat out of my eyes, only a problem here in Houston.
  • Tifosi sunglasses with UV reactant lenses, started before sunrise with clear lenses and finished into the sun, lenses magically turn dark.
  • Altra jersey! New for this year, I have teamed up with the shoe company Altra as an ambassador, stay tuned for more about this as its still in the works (hence not wearing their shoes).
  • Arm warmers, first time wearing but perfect for the day.
  • Gels stuffed in short pockets and arm warmers.
  • Compression sleeves on the calves, great for circulation and 26 miles of shock.
  • Hoka One One shoes, great for 26 miles of concrete!

Bag drop was smooth and I tried to get a warmup run in while being herded into the "A" corral. Managed some drills and got into an extremely long line for very few portopotties- this would be my only complaint of the day, the map showed the entire fence line was toilets but this was not the case. I managed to get out of there just ten minutes before the start and then had to work my way to the front including a stop for the national anthem, had it not been for the maple leaf on my back I probably would have pushed through that too. I took a gel with 45' to go and a caffeinated gel 15' to go washing it down with a random water I found left on the ground as mine had been kicked away at some point. Ahh to be elite and have all the amenities!

Two minutes before the start they shuffled the A corral up to the elites and I was able to get 3rd row in great placing amongst the elites. I felt 8 feet tall standing behind all these tiny Ethiopian women (I was pretty close to that height wearing my Hoka's). The weather was perfect! Cool all morning with only light wind felt in a couple places around the course.

Start: Along with the race coordinators and two soldiers, my University head coach, Leroy Burrell, started us off with a canon blast and I just tried to pull in the reigns as the pace groups started to organize themselves in the pre-dawn light. After the first mile around 5:20 I was already 40" faster then my planned pace but was feeling relaxed and easy. I let the women's pack go (had planned on staying with them) and was on my own with huge gaps, "no mans land", running solo for the rest of the race except a few passes late in the race. I was completely comfortable alone but certainly not why I signed up to race with 25,000 other people!

The next 8 miles flew by like a breeze, no complaints, holding ~5:35 mile pace! Unbelievable, how this felt so easy, it's incredible based on everything leading up to the race (training, mileage, race performances, etc.). That is what a proper taper and more so, race day vibes can do. I knew I was running a little too fast, knew I would likely pay for it later, but the rhythm was so natural and I was building a nice time bank for later. I couldn't help myself- I spent my time rousing up the crowds lining the street. A lot of people were obviously waiting for there own friends or family members so they were quite (and it was early in the morning!) but I got them all cheering loud! So much fun to be part of.

There were very few unattended areas along the route, my previous manager/CEO from work was at mile 3, new CEO at mile 8, mom, wife and baby at mile 14 and finish, that bastard Marcel missed me at Rice but made up for it being the first person I saw at the finish. DJ's, signs, live bands, girls, parties.. the whole time.. made it really hard to pee my pants! "Seriously, you did?!" Yeah, of course! It would have meant the difference between making my goal and missing it completely. I did it at the most opportune times after a water stations where you get soaked anyways, and the next water was only 10 minutes down the road.

I took in all the Gatorade and water I could along the way with a gel each 30-40 minutes. This was smooth until about mile 15 when I actually inhaled a drink and just like that 50k last summer was dealing with sports-drink-induced-pulmonary-edema, try running full out with pneumonia, awesome. This was really my only big issue other than fatigue and going out too fast, felt the cramps starting up late in the race and was loosing my grip and getting sloppy but I just kept thinking about quick feet, fast cadence and that would get me going again.

Around 20 mile I knew the cramps were starting up and not just in the legs but some of the worst pain was in my arms on the inside elbow joints! My body would have the overwhelming waves of complete numbing exhaustion that felt totally paralyzing but I was getting so close to the finish I would just try to keep the rhythm and feed off all the crowds energy and eventually linking back up with the half marathoners gave a boost too. With the body starting to rebel I went into a bit of a panic mode of combating it with all the water and electrolytes I could throw at it including my backup salt pill clipped to a safety pin on my bib. I had a hard time ripping the tiny corner of the bag it was in and it ended flying into the air in slow motion, I went to catch it but I bounced it back in the air left, then again right, and miraculously landing in a water cup I was holding, gulp!

With a mile to go I started getting back on to the ~6 min/mile pace after a few slower miles, the rhythm was back, that was until out of no where an older couple spectating stepped from the very busy half marathon side of the road and right into my empty path. With no time, coordination, or strength to dodge them I yelled "get out of the way!!!" by which time I had already ran smack into the lady planting an elbow directly to her jugular, ouch (for her). I heard a horrifying scream and accelerated back on to pace after coming to nearly a complete stop, not easy to do at mile 25! I looked back with some choice words for the lady and could not see her condition, I hope she is okay and also hope she looks both ways when crossing the street from now on (and stays off closed race courses).

In my previous blog post I picked a goal time of 2:36, while if I ran smarter I know a few minutes off were doable I was stoked to run under that finish line clock at 2:35:11! 

Below are all the numbers from the day. Having never really run a 10 mile race, or a road half marathon (only two on trails last year in ~1:24) it was really cool to be setting personal best times at all the distances along the way. Came through 10 mile in ~55:31 and half marathon in 1:13:44! That also means my second half was in 1:21:27, +7:43, ouch!

Official Race Splits from http://results.houstonmarathon.com/2014/

SplitTime Of DayTimeDiffmin/milemiles/h
Finish Net09:35:22AM02:35:1108:5706:349.15

Data from my Suunto Ambit GPS

ActivityDurationHeart rateDistanceSpeedPaceascentdescentTotal distance
0:05'27.9176 (80-190)1.0011.0 (0.7-12.8)5'20 (8'56-89'24)331.00
0:05'31.0159 (153-186)1.0010.8 (10.1-12.1)5'32 (5'57-4'58)002.00
0:05'29.0159 (153-164)1.0011.0 (10.5-11.6)5'28 (5'42-5'09)003.00
0:05'27.0158 (155-172)1.0011.0 (10.1-13.4)5'26 (5'57-4'28)004.00
0:05'36.0158 (155-164)1.0010.7 (9.8-11.6)5'35 (6'05-5'09)005.00
0:05'32.0157 (154-163)1.0010.8 (10.1-11.6)5'32 (5'57-5'09)006.00
0:05'32.0158 (155-163)1.0010.8 (8.7-12.3)5'32 (6'52-4'52)007.00
0:05'37.0158 (156-162)1.0010.6 (9.2-11.6)5'38 (6'32-5'09)038.00
0:05'41.0157 (154-167)1.0010.6 (9.8-11.9)5'40 (6'05-5'03)039.00
0:05'38.0156 (153-161)1.0010.6 (9.8-11.6)5'38 (6'05-5'09)0010.00
0:05'42.0155 (153-160)1.0110.6 (10.1-11.6)5'40 (5'57-5'09)0011.00
0:05'45.0155 (153-159)1.0010.4 (10.1-11.2)5'44 (5'57-5'21)0012.00
0:05'42.9155 (152-161)0.9910.4 (9.4-11.4)5'44 (6'23-5'15)9613.00
0:05'45.1156 (152-160)1.0110.5 (9.8-11.9)5'43 (6'05-5'03)7714.00
0:05'46.9157 (153-160)1.0010.3 (8.9-11.0)5'48 (6'42-5'28)0315.00
0:05'53.1156 (154-159)1.0010.2 (9.2-11.0)5'53 (6'32-5'28)0016.00
0:05'51.0156 (154-159)1.0010.2 (9.4-11.2)5'52 (6'23-5'21)0017.00
0:05'52.0157 (154-160)1.0010.3 (9.2-11.2)5'50 (6'32-5'21)0018.00
0:05'58.0157 (155-161)1.0010.0 (8.5-10.5)5'58 (7'03-5'42)0019.00
0:05'58.0158 (155-159)1.0010.0 (8.3-10.5)5'59 (7'15-5'42)0019.99
0:06'11.0157 (153-161)1.009.7 (9.2-10.7)6'10 (6'32-5'35)0021.00
0:06'19.1157 (154-167)1.009.5 (8.9-10.3)6'18 (6'42-5'49)0822.00
0:06'24.0158 (153-170)1.009.3 (8.3-10.5)6'25 (7'15-5'42)6622.99
0:06'36.0154 (149-164)1.009.1 (6.9-10.3)6'34 (8'39-5'49)61624.00
0:06'43.0155 (152-158)1.008.9 (8.1-10.1)6'44 (7'27-5'57)7325.00
0:06'09.9157 (154-160)1.009.7 (6.7-11.4)6'09 (8'56-5'15)6326.00
0:03'06.3159 (157-161)0.509.6 (7.8-11.9)6'13 (7'39-5'03)0326.50

Above: Course map with mile markers, route colour indicates my heart rate. Below: Graph of heart rate BPM (orange) and pace min/mile (white) 

Learned a ton from this race and certainly have some tweaks to both training and race day that will ensure some faster times are still yet to come. Looking back I would have been better off to have tried to stay on my goal pace which would have also given me some people to run with, I was both physically and mentally tired after 20 miles just from being on my own. I need to be more careful drinking, when the respiration rate is high its difficult to have time to breath never mind drink, getting fluid into the lungs causes a ton of problems- the coughing really cramps the entire body not to mention the decreased breathing efficiency and dangers associated with it. Elite water stations where I can use a straw bottle would probably help.

Training needs a lot more tempo's (barely did any other than fast finish long runs and a 10k). But I'm obviously touching on training that is right for me and shouldn't forget it. Arriving healthy and fresh on race day is key.

Race night was spent hanging out with friends Leah Thorvilson and Joe Gray who were both in the half marathon championships running superbly. Also spent a majority of the night with the race director, Brant Kotch, and the rest of the crew. Great being able to tell them, straight to their faces, what an excellent job they did. If you are looking for a fun and fast marathon- as I told Brant, its the best one I've ever done!