Saturday, March 14, 2009

Heavy Weather

For those old enough, Heavy Weather was the name of a great jazz fusion album released in the late 1970s, by a group called Weather Report.  I highly recommend that everyone listen to it sometime.  Plus, isn't the album cover cool?
I was reminded of heavy weather when I walked over to the starting line of the Bayou City Classic 10K.   There was no one at the starting line ten minutes before the scheduled start. Everyone was huddled near the building to get protected from the wind.
Yeah, it was windy and it was a bit cold, but what have we become!  It was 43 degF and we acted like we were going to be running on the frozen tundra close to where Rosie Schmandt is from. 
I'm just as guilty. I huddled around the heater and I shielded myself from the wind.   I must be getting soft.  I grew up in Kansas and lived in Chicago and New York!  I did a little bit of research and found there have been several races throughout the country this year run in much more adverse conditions. Here are a couple:
Feb. 1  Boston  Super Sunday 5K/10K- 1250 finishers, temperature 26 degF
Jan. 25  Kansas City, Children's TLC Groundhog Run 5k/10K, 2500 finishers, 15 degF
There are several other smaller runs, but it is hard for me to imagine showing up an hour early for either race and waiting in the cold.   
The waiting in the cold and wind is the worst part of the race.  Today, it was a relief to get started and once we started and got out of downtown, we had very good race conditions.   A lot of people I talked to had very good times.  This was my second 10K in two weeks and it is a distance that I love to hate.  There is a definite mental aspect to this distance especially at the end that different from a 5K.  The 10K is more of a thinking person's race. By the way, I hate to disappoint some of you who were particularly pleased with your time, but the 'official' results are at least ten seconds too fast!
Congratulations to the BCRR centipede "Octo-mom" team who won an award with a very creative and topical theme.  Of course, the post race party was wonderful.  Thank you to John Phillips for providing the propane heaters and thank your to HARRA for again sponsoring a memorable race.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Windy City

It occurred to me running the 22nd Annual ConocoPhillips Rodeo Run into the teeth of a stiff wind that this event has become the extreme weather running event of Houston. I did some research from past runs and sure enough, there have been some tough conditions the last few years. The weather and the fact that the course, which includes an out and back over the Elysian Viaduct, is not run in typically flat Houston terrain adds up to a fairly challenging endeavor. A recap of the last Rodeo Runs.

2009: 55°F, winds at 10mph, gusting to 25 mph-it seemed much worse going through the buildings downtown. Mile 1 through 4 was directly into the wind. I looked forward turning around, but it seemed to just get hot, though ultimately, I think running with the wind at my back helped more than hurt.

2008: 70°F, 79% humidity winds SE 6 mph-- I did not run this. Jay Hendrickson, Rob Walter and I ran the Conroe hills that morning. We finished a 20 mile run about the time the race started. We all agreed we were happy not to be running the Rodeo Run.

2007: 70°F, 100% humidity, intermittent rain-- This was like a sauna. I remember struggling through the first mile with the humidity. It started to rain, which at first seemed like a relief, but ultimately, the conditions just became steamier!! The viaduct was like a death march!

2006: 54°, 100% humidity, some rain, winds NW9 gusting-- Even though the temperature was comparable to 2009, I remember being miserable. It was cold, wet and windy- not a good combination. The viaduct was torture. Besides having to wait around in the cold for an hour. I remember going directly to my car and not participating in the post race party.

2005: 49°F, 90% humidity, no wind-- Probably the best conditions in the last five years.

Other comments:
To me, 10K is a tough distance. It is easy to go out too fast and not be able to hold on. I was able to run a 'negative' split which means that I managed the pacing fairly well.

This race is getting big, maybe too big.

I only saw a handful of people from BCRR. I saw Clayton Smith and Mark Fraser at the start. Avi Moss joined as a bandit and I felt like I had my own personal cheerleader in Lara Allen and Deborah Touchy, who greated me at the start and again as I was running up the first hill on the return trip up the viaduct. I think they may have propelled me to a stronger finish.