Friday, January 23, 2015

An Annual Tradition: the Aramco Houston Half

It's probably a fair assumption that many runners have favorite races that they do year after year. For some it may be an annual Thanksgiving turkey trot, for others a local charity 5k. In some cases it may be a bigger race, like a local half or even a full marathon. I definitely have races in those categories--well, I still haven't found the perfect annual turkey trot--but a few of my annual traditions are a bit further afield.

Once of my favorite races each year happened last weekend, the Aramco Houston Half.* I first went to the Bayou City race back in 2012 when it played host to the USA Olympic Marathon Trials. It was supposed to be a big weekend with friends who ended up not being able to make it. Instead, I stayed with a law school classmate's aunt and uncle, neither of whom I had met before, and had a great time.

Since then, my January trek to Houston has become an annual tradition. It's the perfect time of year to visit Houston--where the weather is mild--and escape New York--where the weather is frigid and demoralizing. Even better, it serves as something to look forward after Christmas and New Year's have come and gone.

I also view it as the start to my spring marathon training. After my fall marathon each year I take some time off of serious training. Houston serves as a perfect reminder that it's time to start preparing for my spring marathon. I come into the race without any lofty time goal and treat it as a hard training run. Let me be clear, I run as fast as I can, but I expect, given my lack of recent speedwork, that the resulting time won't be as fast as later in the season.

In 2012, while battling a cold I ran the race in 1:24:37. The next year, we had terrible weather--freezing rain and gusting winds--and I battled my way to a 1:28:17. Last year, the weather was good and I managed a 1:25:21, a time I was happy with given all the time off I had taken after proposing at the New York City Marathon.

So how did it go this year? I had one of my most consistently paced HMs in a while with 5k splits of 20:15 (6:31 pace), 20:06 (6:29 pace), 20:11 (6:30 pace), before speeding up to 19:58 (6:26 pace) with a final .67 miles in a 6:13 pace. It paid to start conservatively because I felt pretty good in the final miles. In retrospect, could I have run faster? Maybe, but I'll have other chances to do that this year (as of now, I'm already signed up for three more over the next five months). This was just a great way to start the year on a confident note.

Now to start marathon training...

*I use the race's full name here to distinguish it from the Houston Half Marathon and 10k put on by the Houston Striders in the fall. The Aramco Half is run in conjunction with the Chevron Houston Marathon every year in January--usually over MLK Weekend--and put on the Houston Marathon Committee. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday Haikus

It's finally Friday! After a December in which I hardly worked at all (thank you wedding, honeymoon, and Christmas!) the first two full weeks of January have seemed pretty long. The long weekend for MLK Day always seems to come when I need it the most. Of course, what better way to start off a long weekend than with some terrible poetry?
After ages of seemingly total neglect, the Friday haikus are back! Enjoy.


Sub-par content, sad
Women have come too far for
Running up-do news

NYC Marathon Registration

The lottery's open
I don't have to sweat; two words--
Guaranteed entry

The Joys of Winter Running

Not enough quarters,
Too few machines, damn all this 
Winter running gear

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014: A Year In Review

This past year has been an incredibly rewarding one for me, both running-wise and non-running wise. One thing it obviously has not been, however, is a great year for blogging. If you count this post, if posted only six times during the calendar year! That's a big decrease from my 30 posts in 2013 and a massive plummet from 2012's 126. So, given that I haven't posted much, how did the year go?

Running Achievements

2014 turned out to be a pretty good year for PRs. After a couple years in which Boston didn't go as planned, I ran my second fastest marathon time for a new Boston PR. It helped that I had my fiancée, my aunt, and a ton of teammates cheering me on. 

I also realized much later in the year that just two weeks before Boston, I PR'd in the 10k. I haven't had too many non-marathon PRs over the past several years so this was a great surprise. What's even crazier is that the PR happened during a race in which my shoelace came untied around mile 2. Somehow--after stopping and trying unsuccessfully to retie it--I managed to avoid tripping.

Of course, my biggest running achievement of the year was an almost two minute marathon PR in Chicago. I was thrilled with my time and the whole experience. I think the takeaway from Boston and Chicago is the same--I run best when (a) I've had a solid training cycle and (b) I seriously watch what I eat and drink the final weeks before the race. 

Perhaps the biggest running achievement, though, wasn't about speed. I had been planning to run the 2014 New York City Marathon with my fiancée to celebrate one year of being engaged (I proposed at the finish of the 2013 race), but the day before I got a call asking me to be a guide for a visually-impaired runner. After clearing it with my fiancée, I said yes and ended up having an incredible time helping my running achieve a NYCM PR. It was truly inspiring to watch his determination and to help him achieve his goal.

2014 Races

I did a fair number of races in 2014. I did three marathons, four half-marathons, two 10ks, four 5 milers, two 5ks, and one road mile. This year also included my new favorite destination race, the Covered Bridges Half.

Non-Running Events

Lots of great non-running events happened this year, but I'm going to focus on the best one: my fiancée and I got married! On December 6, we tied the knot in Stonington, Conn. It was easily the greatest day of my life (of course, I started the day with a rainy 10 mile run), and I'm very excited to see where 2015 takes us, both in terms of running and in terms of our life together. 

Hope you all have had a great 2014 as well. See you back here in 2015!