Thursday, April 23, 2009

Top Ten Good, Bad and Ugly Observations About Last Night’s LP Run

10. Why can’t they play “Born to Run” when the master males run?
9. Heard in stands by some of the open runners: “What’s an LP?”
8. I now know how a hamster feels when he runs on that wheel.
7. We gave up Valhalla for this?
6. It’s nice to hear people cheer for you . . . for the first THREE laps.
5. When this was an hour long race, did they used to play the ticking clock from ’60 Minutes’ over the loudspeaker?
4. Even if we lost power, we could continue the race using the light from Rob’s Boston shirt.
3. The race doesn’t end any faster if you run slower.
2. No Simon Brabo and Don Brenner opens up the race for Runner of the Season
1. Poor hydration + 90° day + 20 minutes hard running = Dehydration + Cramps= Poor race.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Crescent City Classic Rewards Patience

I have travelled to many places throughout the world and I learned very early in my career that things are not always as efficient as they are in the US.  As a stickler for punctually, I was horrified when my colleagues in places like Indonesia or the Philippines would escort me to a meeting 45-60 minutes late.  After a while, I realized that it wasn't a big deal to customers or anyone else that the meeting started late.  After understanding that, I was much more relaxed when visiting customers outside the US and enjoyed my trips much more.

There is an analogy here to Houston runners participating in the Crescent City Classic in New Orleans. If you demand the precise efficiency we regularly experience in Houston, you will be disappointed.  You can let that bother you or you can go with the flow. I recommend the latter. With that said, the organization is not very good and can be frustrating especially to first time runners.   Consider package pick-up.  There are 20,000 runners, about the same number who run the Houston marathon and half marathon.  Picking up a race package in Houston takes three minutes.  In New Orleans, it is bit more of an adventure.  

If you had a print-out with your race number and name on it, you could proceed to the line.  
If you just wrote-down your number or did not know it, you had to wait in a very long line to be told what your race number is.
Once you got to the front of the line, the volunteer hand wrote your name and number on a scrap of paper. Once you had the paper, you could proceed to another line to pick up your number.
Getting your number was only a start:
If you are seeded runner (red bib), you get a chip, but you had to pick up your chip inside the expo. It really wasn't that difficult.
If you are a fast runner but were not seeded (blue bib) (you had to provide documentation to be seeded), you could buy a chip for $5, and that required waiting in another long line.
Theoretically anyone could buy a chip, but when Lana Moody wanted to buy a chip as a non-seeded runner (orange bib), she was told they were out of chips for orange bibs. Who knew there were different chips.
Once you bought a chip, you had to take another piece of paper to the chip table and wait in line again.
This process is usually easier to stomach because there is Abita Amber and Abita Lite beer freely flowing.  However, when we were there, they had run out of beer.  Fortunately, more beer eventually arrived.

It's just best to relax and let the process work.   The race itself went off fairly smoothly.  The corral system was fairly smooth.  The course is flat with minimal turns so the times are fairly fast.  The winning time was 28:18!  It was a warm morning and I felt the heat at the end.  This is probably the warmest race condition I have run this season.   

About 3 1/2 miles into the race, I realized how hard it is to run a 10K.   I also think the fear of being passed by Mark Fraser, Neeraj Rohilla or David Piper is a greater motivator than hitting a targeted time.   By the end of Mile 4, my pace had slowed and hitting my goal seemed to be fading.    But it was  helpful that I was familiar with the course. As we approached City Park, I noticed I was passing some runners and was able pick up my pace slightly.   Somehow I had enough of a surge during the last half mile to exceed my goal by a few seconds.  But, it was really hard!  10Ks are really hard!!

Back to race organization.   What the organizers lack in pre-race planning and execution, they more than make it up to the runners with the post-race party.  There is nothing like it.  Live band, free flowing beer, homemade jambalaya, along with multiple food booths with smoothies, chips, fruits, energy bars, etc.  Our group stayed three hours at the post-race party. I have sunburned shoulders to prove it.    The post-race party is a perfect reward to all of us who maintained our patience through the entry and package pick-up process, the starting line logistics and the race itself.    I plan to be back next year.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Fast Times Near Bellaire High

For a change, I will not write a comment on how the weather affected the results of a popular Houston spring road race. The Bellaire Trolley 5k has had its share of inclement weather in the past, but that was not the case on Saturday April 4, 2009.

The Bellaire Trolley 5K run is historically one of the fastest 5K courses in Houston. The course is flat with minimal turns. The course is completely straight from about 0.9-1.9 miles, and then after running around the perimeter of Bellaire High School, the course finishes along the same straightaway from about 2.4 miles to the finish.

Congratulations to the following BCRR members who placed in their age group and won a very cool model of a trolley car:

Neeraj Rohilla 2nd AG & PR (25-29 men)
Katrina Stilwell 1st AG (35-39 women)
Suzy Seeley 2nd AG on her 50th birthday
Scott Bounds 3rd AG (55-59 men)
Ursula Spilger 1st AG (65-69 women)
Don Brenner 3rd AG (65-69 men)

I am going to give Neeraj a hard time. If he were competing as a 30-34 yo woman, he would not have placed. But we know that most 25-29 yo men are usually partying on Friday night and have difficulty getting up early to run a race. More power to Neeraj for being able to do both.

Enhancing it's fast reputation, the Trolley Run course yielded the following PRs for BCRR members:

Neeraj Rohilla 19:37
Rob Walters 18:18
Lara Allen 27;07
Lana Moody 25:29
Sheila Ramamurthy 25:45
Eddie Rodriguez 23:28

If I missed anyone, let me know and I will post. Kathi Mahon would have broken a PR had she not gotten behind someone who slowed her down at the beginning of the race. I don't know if that is true, but she missed her PR by a couple of seconds!

Neeraj's edit:

I am including a slide show of pictures I took before/after the race.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Simon Says, "It's Windy"

I am a little behind in posting account summaries to the blog.  I also see that our blog is a bit inactive.  The Law Week 8K was held on Saturday March 28th.  To be honest, this is one my my least favorite of the Spring Series Runs.  Allen Parkway is a bit more difficult of a course to run than Memorial.   The run out to Shepherd seems to take forever and once you get back downtown, there is at least another 0.4 miles going into downtown and turning around to the finish line.

In addition, this race takes place during the heart of the NCAA Basketball tournament, called March Madness.  I always kick myself for getting so emotionally involved, but there is nothing I can do about.  It's ingrained in my DNA!!  My beloved Kansas Jayhawks lost a close game to Michigan State the night before the race.  The game ended about 11PM.  I watched the game with another club member who will remain nameless (but he does have a Brooklyn accent) who kept pointing out critical turnovers and missed free throws that cost the Jayhawks the game.  He did not need to tell me that because I was watching the same game!!!   But I took this loss in stride-- we are very young team, so I was not as upset as I often am before the Law Week 8K.

I think we have had beautiful weather all winter and all spring to train, but it seems like the series runs have been plagued by bad weather, and it is mainly wind.   Well, none of the previous races come close to the wind problems in this race.  I hoped to find someone to draft off of going out to Shepherd, but I never was able to avoid the wind.  There was a nice stretch right before the turnaround where we were shielded from the wind.  I felt like I was cruising for a stretch until we turned around.  

During the spring races, I have has some nice battles with Richard Verm, David Piper, Mark Fraser and Scott Bound. This competition propels us ahead when we may want to slow down.  Simon Brabo and I were running together right as we made the last turn and headed for the finish line.  That stretch of probably less than 1/4 of a mile had to be the windiest stretch I had ever run in a race.  I remember seeing the finish line, running as hard as I could, but feeling like I was not moving.   I think Simon said, "It's Windy", but I really couldn't hear or anyone else as I struggled to complete the last stretch.