Sub 3:00

I’m such a bad blogger. I have all these thoughts in my head but they never make it out of there onto the blog. My biggest hang up, I think, is trying to include too much detail. So I’m going to try and keep this short and sweet…

Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona 1/2 Marathon
Sunday, January 17
Official time – 2:51:32

Yay, I met my goal of walking a sub-three hour half marathon… and I even had time to spare!!! Compare that to my RnR Las Vegas time of 3:42:37… what a difference six weeks makes!

Overall the race went very well. Suprisingly the time actually passed quite quickly despite the boring course and lack of an iPod. On Monday I was really hurting in the area at the back of my knees. My arms also felt a bit sore (I swing my arms a lot when I speed walk.) But today I’m feeling pretty much back to normal. I even got a short 1.5 mile run in last night.

Eventually I’ll post a more detailed report (and photos!), but this’ll do it for now.

First repeat half – Rock ‘n’ Roll AZ

I’ve done repeat races before, but Rock ‘n’ Roll AZ will be my first repeat half. While I’m looking forward to the race tomorrow, I’m not particularly excited about it. It’s neat to be participating in this huge event that’s happening locally, but I’ve kind of got this “been there, done that” feeling.

I took yesterday morning off work to go to the Expo. There was a “blowout” sale on any official Rock ‘n’ Roll branded Sugoi gear that was leftover from 2009, and I figured that it was best to go relatively early on for the best selection. I was really hoping to get this great tech shirt from Rock ‘n’ Roll AZ 2009, but there was only size L and XL. I did find a cute Seattle “outfit” that I ended up buying.

Every once in awhile there was an announcement over the loudspeakers about the sale and the announcer would say that the leftover gear was being sold “at cost”. Somehow, I highly doubt that’s true. The t-shirt was still $25 (originally $40) and the pair of capri tights was still $30 (originally $60). I hope the gear is of a high enough quality to justify the prices.

I’m not completely sure how I feel about the rapid growth and commercialization of the Rock ‘n’ Roll series by Competitor Group. On one hand, I do like how well-organized the events are. And their size allows them to do some neat stuff like course preview videos. But I’m also noticing areas where it seems like they’re cutting costs, particularly with clothing. I think I’ve mentioned previously that they recycle a lot of the shirt designs from race to race, which I don’t like. Also, for the first time they had the same tech shirt for both the marathon and the half.

This was a surprise because I distinctly remember the website saying that you had to switch races before November 20 in order to be guaranteed the correct shirt for the race you were going to do. I keep hoping that one of these days Competitor Group will start offering tech shirts in women’s sizes, but that seems highly unlikely now that the focus looks to be on reducing variety rather than offering more choices.

Overall, it was a typical Expo… I tried some samples and picked up a few goodies. The most noteworthy thing was that I went to the KT Tape booth and got taped up for shin splints. When I speed walk often times my shins hurt (which is kind of funny because when I run its my calves that usually hurt). I figured it couldn’t hurt to try the tape and see if it makes a difference during the race tomorrow. When I got to the booth, there was just one person ahead of me so I only waited about five minutes.

The tape is supposed to be water proof and can stay on for up to five days. I can testify that it’s still sticking well after a long shower earlier today. I still feel the stretch from the tape, particularly on the left under my arch. I’m actually a little worried because there’s more stretch on the left than the right and I hope I haven’t thrown anything off by trying to counterbalance it. I thought about trying to retape it myself, but then I worried I wouldn’t do it right and just decided to leave it as is. One thing to note with the tape is that once it’s on, it can’t just be pulled up and repositioned. Instead, you have to start over with a new strip of tape.

Of course I spent some time today laying out my clothes and other stuff for tomorrow. It’ll be fun wearing my new Half Fanatics shirt. I also decided to go with new shoes which I hope doesn’t turn out to be a mistake. I’m justifying it by the fact that while the shoes themselves are new, they’re the same old style of Saucony ProGrid Hurricane 10s that I’ve been using since I started running. Look at the extreme difference in appearance between my new pair and my old pair!

Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas – Part 4

(Go to Part 3)

The one day of the week that I have the opportunity to sleep in and I can’t sleep. Ugh. Well, at least now I can wrap up this darn report. At this point I should just call it a photo essay instead of a race report. There really wasn’t much “racing” going on for me that day.

Anyway, I think right here I’m a little over halfway done with the race. I had to take a photo of this restaurant because it combines two yummy things… Chinese food and donuts!

The guy in the plaid shirt was handing out free beer. (No, I didn’t have any.)

This being Vegas, of course I had to get a photo of this Little White Chapel. The sign says they have a 24 hr drive up wedding window!

A little further along, I found another chapel at the corner of these romantically named streets… awww.

I got passed by a couple groups of running Elvi before I finally realized what they were pushing…  a set of speakers blasting Elvis songs. Guess it would have helped if I didn’t have my iPod on.

Now we’re back on The Strip.

At first I couldn’t figure out why I took this photo… But if you look carefully at the guy in the white shirt… it’s my first ever joggler sighting!

The Fashion Show Mall.

The guy in the gold suit did an awesome job directing traffic. He was still enthusiastic even after standing out there repeating the same thing for three hours. The split was at about the 10.5 mile mark and I was glad to only be doing the half. Even 2.5 miles seemed like a long way away.

After the split was when we started passing the more elaborately themed hotels again.

These buildings are part of the new CityCenter project… very futuristic looking.

Mandalay Bay is faintly visible in the background behind the New York, New York sign. Not too much farther to go!

It was awesome to see this billboard right before the finish.

Here’s a closer look at the billboard. I think part of why I rank RnR Las Vegas as my second favorite half (number one is Disneyland) is because of all the little (or not so little) touches like this. Even though it’s not aimed at specifically at me, it’s nice to feel like part of something special.

And 3 hours and 42 minutes later, I’m finally done!

I was tired and a little sore, but overall felt better than after run/walking my last half (RnR San Jose). After doing all the usual post-race stuff (photos, snacks, a bit of stretching), I headed back to the hotel to shower, pack, and grab some lunch before heading to the airport.

I really enjoyed this race and had a fantastic time during my short trip out to Las Vegas, although I do wonder how much my opinion was influenced by the fact that I was walking instead of running. Actually, I guess if I had to pick one course for a personal worst time, this was a good choice even though it wasn’t intentional. At least there was a lot to look at during the almost four hours that I spent walking. I definitely recommend at least doing the race once for the experience. If I was still going to be living in Phoenix, I’d consider doing it again. But now that I’m moving to Baltimore I’ll be exploring options for East Coast races instead.

Running and living in Baltimore

For once I’m doing something productive during a flight. I’m still madly in love with my new laptop and it’s so nice to have it with me while traveling. (Although it wasn’t so nice lugging two laptops – personal and work – around the airport and through security.) My visit to Baltimore overall was productive too, but I’m definitely happy to be heading back to the warmth of Phoenix, at least for another month and a half or so.

I guess I’ll start first with the running news. On Monday night, I decided to check out a group run that I found online. The Federal Hill Runners meet every week not too far from where I’ll be working and living. I was a little hesitant because I’ve never run with a group before, but the website says they have runners of all types and abilities. Right now my life is all about change and moving forward, so I figured why not embrace the change and try something new.

When I arrived outside the fitness center where the group meets, I felt intimidated because all the guys standing there looked tall and fast. As more and more people arrived I kept hoping to see someone who seemed like a potential running buddy. Everyone seemed nice and I chatted with a guy who was very welcoming, but I was getting very worried that I was out of my league here.

Besides me, there was one other first-timer there so the group did really quick introductions, each person announcing their name and pace. Now I was really intimidated because the slowest pace was a 9:30. Somehow I was the last one to introduce myself and putting on a brave face I said that I’m more like a 10, but I’d try to keep up with the 9:30 runners. Luckily a woman named Christine spoke up and said that she’d run with me.

Christine and I chatted for a bit and I told her my story about getting ready to move to Baltimore. About a mile or so in, another woman named Regina joined us. The course we took was partly through city streets, and partly along the Baltimore Inner Harbor. We even went right past my company’s office where I’ll be working. Most of my attention during the run was focused on just trying to keep up, but I look forward to running through there again in the spring when I’m better able to take in the surroundings.

We ended up doing 4.39 miles total at an average 10:13 pace. I was tired but pleased with myself for surviving the run. A bunch of people asked if I’d be back next week and I responded that they’d probably see me again in March after I move. I hope that I wasn’t lying. I’d really like to go back, but I hate the idea of being the slowest person there. Not that anyone in the group ever made me feel bad, it’s just my own insecurities that are making me worry. I think I’ll make an effort to go back at least one more time. I’m hoping that either I’ll get faster, or that some slower runners will join the group again once the weather in Baltimore warms up.

After the run, the fitness center holds a free group class for the runners. Keeping with the trying new things theme, I went to check out the class too. It was quite an experience, to say the least. For some reason I had in my mind that it was a stretching class. But it was actually an abs and stretching class, with an emphasis on the abs part. I was so out of my element. The instructor was up front shouting things out and I had no idea what all the terms meant. I just did my best to mimic what everyone else was doing. Add to that the fact that I have no ab muscles at all and I was only managing to do about half the exercises. Again, I put on my brave face and just bluffed my way through the class. All I could really do was laugh at myself for getting into such a crazy situation.

So now that I’m done reporting about all this running stuff, let’s move on to my main reason for visiting Baltimore… finding a place to live. After looking at a bunch of places, I finally settled on renting a nice rowhouse only about a mile away from my office. (When the weather is nice, I’m thinking about walking or biking to work.) It wasn’t my number one choice, but it’s still got everything I need and the rent was $250/month cheaper, which adds up to a lot over a year’s lease.

This is a photo of the street the rowhouse is on.

And here’s the exterior of the building.

On the first floor is a living room, dining room, kitchen, and half bath. Apparently “exposed brick” is a very desirable feature in Baltimore rentals because it’s included on pretty much every Craig’s List posting.

The second floor has two bedrooms and a full bath.

There’s also a basement for laundry and storage. It sounds like a lot of space for one person, but all the rooms are really small. I’m pretty sure all my furniture will fit, but I’ll have to wait and see. Anyway, I’m happy to cross finding a place to live off my moving checklist, and it will be fun to actually move in and start making the place my own.

BRCC Frozen Finger 5 Miler

As mentioned in my previous post, I’m up in Baltimore for a week to do some house hunting. Once I figured out the dates of my trip, I looked around online for any local races and found a small one being held by the Baltimore Road Runners Club called the Frozen Finger 5 Miler.

Out of all the seasonally named races I’ve done recently, this was the one that most closely lived up to the name. (It was warm and sunny for Frosty’s Run and the Winter Misery One Miler was definitely not miserable.) After it snowed here in Baltimore on Thursday night, I thought about skipping the race and just sleeping in this morning. But in the end I decided to suck it up and brave the cold weather. I really layered on the clothing… two pairs of pants, two long sleeve shirts and a jacket, and two pairs of gloves. Here’s a photo of everything I wore for the race, minus one glove that accidentally got left behind in the rental car.

The registration fee for the race was only $8 (for non-club members) and included these nice cozy gloves which I wore on top of my cheap Target gloves. I was glad to have this second pair because I probably would have really had frozen fingers without them.

The race was at Druid Hill Park. Maybe after I’ve lived in Baltimore for awhile I’ll stop being so fascinated by snow. But right now I just think the snow makes everything so much prettier. I took these photos after the race.

Originally, the first mile of the course was supposed to go all the way around the lake that’s sort of visible behind the fence in the first photo, but I think it got changed at the last minute because of the snow. I’ve never run in snow before! But most of the roads were clear and I only had to slow down slightly in a couple spots where I was afraid of slipping on the ice. I’m happy to report that 1) I ran the entire five miles… even up some nasty hills, and 2) I didn’t fall!

Before the race I was a little worried because 3.1 miles is the farthest I’ve run since being sick. I figured that I’d just stop and speed walk if I started getting tired. But it turned out that I felt good through the entire five miles. It wasn’t easy, especially on the hills, but I never felt like I wouldn’t be able to finish. In a way, I think the cold actually helped because it numbed some of the usual aches and pains. On the other hand, the cold prevented me from fueling up because it felt like too much effort to reach into my iFitness belt with all the layers I had on.

I took a GU Roctane before the race. (I’ve decided that I really dislike the blueberry pomegranate flavor, although I’ll still keep using it since that’s what they give out at Rock ‘n’ Roll races. But one of these days I’ll have to try the vanilla orange to see if it’s any better.) That probably contributed to how good I felt while running. I try not to use fuel products too much on a regular basis so that I get an extra boost from them on race days. I had another GU gel and some chomps with me, but like I said above I never got around to taking anything else. It probably didn’t matter anyway because 5 miles is a relatively short race. And my last mile was actually my fastest according to my Garmin.

  • Mile 1 – 10:07
  • Mile 2 – 10:17
  • Mile 3 – 10:34
  • Mile 4 – 10:42
  • Mile 5 – 9:42

The last mile was also predominantly downhill. 🙂

No official results yet, but my Garmin shows an average 10:18 pace for 5.06 miles. That’s probably pretty close to the official results because even though the distance is long, I forgot to stop the timer right away after finishing. I had a blueberry bagel afterwards that was really tasty, but a bit hard from sitting out in the cold. My jaw actually started to hurt after awhile from all the effort it took to chew.

I’m encouraged and excited by how easily I’ve been able to ramp up my running again. I hope I’m not taking it too fast, but so far I’ve been relatively injury free which is a good sign. I do have a slight ache in the ball of my right foot, but I think that’s more due to old shoes and insoles than anything else. Last weekend I splurged on custom insoles from Road Runner Sports that are working out well so far. I also ordered a new pair of Saucony ProGrid Hurricane 10s that should be waiting for me in the mail when I get back to Phoenix.

Half Fanatic #259!

Look what came in the mail today… my new Half Fanatics shirt!

For the last month or so, I’ve been hearing/reading about the Half Fanatics from a bunch of different sources. Initially I wasn’t that interested, but then I realized that I already met the criteria to join with my eight halves in 2009. What finally pushed me to become a member though was actually the shirt. I want to wear short sleeves for RnR AZ, but don’t really like any of the short sleeve shirts that I currently have. (Well, I have a couple I like from races, but I don’t like wearing race shirts to other races.) So I figured why not join and wear the Half Fanatics shirt for RnR AZ.

It’s so much fun getting “real” mail (as opposed to junk mail and bills). At first I wondered what was in the package because I had forgotten the shirt was on its way. Normally I don’t buy clothes online because it’s so hard to know whether the fit will be right. Luckily the shirt fits pretty well. I went with a small and my only gripe is that the shoulders are a bit narrow. But a medium probably would have been too long for me.

I promptly took the shirt out for a run and did three miles tonight in just under 32 minutes. I don’t have the exact time because my Garmin is already packed. I leave for Baltimore tomorrow and don’t return until next Wednesday. The next couple weeks are going to be busy!

The main purpose of the trip to Baltimore is to look for a place to live. But while I’m there, I’m thinking about doing a 5 mile race held by the Baltimore Road Runners Club on Saturday. I also found a running group near where I’m planning to live that does group runs on Monday nights so I might check that out too. Then when I get back, RnR AZ will be just a few days away!

Self reflections

My day started off bright and early this morning. I drove down to Road Runner Sports in Tempe for a mock race for Rock ‘n’ Roll AZ. It was a free event and they had GU and Cytomax (the same products that’ll be available on race day) set up at three locations along the eight mile course around Tempe Town Lake. I’ve tried a few sips of Cytomax before, but usually I stick to water during races. Today I did just Cytomax and while it’s good to know that it doesn’t disagree with me, there wasn’t really any noticeable benefit either. I think we had the cool citrus flavor, which I did find refreshing. I’ll probably continue to just stick with my GU gels and chomps, accompanied with water, for the race.

Since I was speed walking, there weren’t many other participants around and I think I took a wrong turn at the end getting back to the store. Based on my Garmin, I walked 8.57 miles in 1:56:44… a 13:37 pace. This is the last long distance walk I’m going to do before RnR AZ. I’m still hoping to finish the race in under 3 hours as my goal, but I’m not sure I can keep up the pace for another five miles. I’ll just do my best and see what happens.

When I got home, I had some fun trying out the camera on my laptop to take a quick pic of my outfit.

At the 5k a couple days ago, I was too warm in a long-sleeved shirt. But today the “race” started early at 7:30am and I was glad to have my new Champion jacket that I picked up at Target for only $17.48. My running wardrobe used to be almost all from Road Runner Sports, but now I’ve got a lot more Champion stuff in the mix.

I was just browsing the Target weekly ad and if you’ve ever thought about trying a Champion sports bra, now’s the time to go pick one up. From now until January 9, they’re on sale for $12. I’m definitely going to go grab a couple more colors.

After lunch I took my mom out to the airport. It was an hour drive each way and on the way home I decided to stop and treat myself with some bubble tea (aka boba tea). I love bubble tea but there’s no place to get it close to my house, which is probably a good thing. Here I am enjoying what’s left of my taro milk tea. If you’re not familiar with bubble tea, those are tapioca pearls at the bottom of the cup.

Then I spent the rest of the day doing laundry, cleaning up the spare closet in preparation for moving, and starting to pack for my upcoming trip to Baltimore. Overall I think I had a very productive day. Now if only I didn’t have to go to work again in the morning…