Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Seabrook Lucky Trails Half AND Full Marathon

After doing the Pelican Challenge in 2009 (a half-marathon on both Saturday and Sunday), I didn't think I'd ever run the Seabrook Lucky Trails Marathon again. Skipped it in 2010 & felt so left out. Did the relay in 2011 & decided I dislike relays. So in 2012 came back and did the Trail Challenge - half on Saturday and full on Sunday.

As always, Robby & company put on a WONDERFUL event. The race packet swag was fab- tech short sleeved gender specific shirt (without logos on the back), tech hat & tech sock in a drawstring bag.

The course was in great shape - grass was mowed & mosquitoes were sprayed. And this year the boardwalk wasn't slippery! (Which is, ironically, where I took the tumble that resulted in the bloody knee pictured above.)

Post race was again great - this year they had green beer on Saturday for St. Patrick's day! Sadly, by the time I finished they were almost out, but I still got one :)

They also had a Taco Bell truck out there with the infamous new Dorito tacos. Had to have one since my nephew Kendrick keeps raving about them. It was good, but I actually prefer the plain. The truck also had bean burritos.

They had their usual offerings of hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, sausage on a stick & ice cream too.

LOVE this race!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Run For Wellness 5K -- FREE!!!

On Sunday I ventured out of the safety of the loop, 22 miles into the 'burbs, to run the dreaded 5K distance. What could make me do this? A straight, single & clean man could have (HA!), but alas that was not the reason -- the reason was it was FREE.

This is a new series that will be the last Sunday of each month at George Bush Park. And the price will be my favorite price of FREE.

It's bib-timed with pace callers along the course (3, I think) and we were e-mailed results a few hours later. It's supported with a water stop at 1.55 mile turnaround. Fluids and breakfast tacos at the end! There was someone taking pictures of us and they were included in the results e-mail (some of them included with this report - no charge!). They even did door prizes (I didn't win - free burrito at Mission), the winners received free meal certificates or Luke's gift cards. Did I mention it was FREE?!
One of the runners brought bagels for everyone also.
What a deal!!

The location was easy to find following the directions on the website/facebook. There wasn't a sign when you entered the park, but as we were the only people there at that time (registration 7:45, race time 8 am) it was very easy to see where the group was located - there was a pop-up canopy tent for registration.

Although they did a practice event last month, this was being considered the first event. Unlike most inaugural events, this one didn't seem to have any kinks.

Registration was quick and simple (signed a waiver and then a log with your bib number). They had a banner with a start/finish sign marking the start/finish line. There were a few announcements, acknowledging the sponsors and explaining the simple course and I think we started on time. Can't remember if they did the National Anthem - that might be their only kink :)

There were about 50 runners and walkers that participated.
Very friendly, talkative group! The youngest runner was 8 and there were others in their 60s (maybe even 70s). Alysa Graves came out - you can see her behind me in the picture to the right. This would be the only time I was in front of her!

The route was an out and back along a winding path. A couple of bridges were at the beginning (which felt like a hill on the return!). There were a few bicyclers out that day, but they did not pose any traffic issues - they all called out 'On your left' as they passed. Congestion along the route was never an issue after we cleared the start line.

The course/park are really pretty. I stayed and did an additional 5 miles after the 5K.

Had a really enjoyable time talking to the other runners as I passed them or they passed me. I really hope 'grey shirt guy' and 'iPhone music lady' come back next month -- it was a race to the finish with them! And I won :)

Being a slower runner & preferring the long distance slow & steady runs, I have scoffed at doing 5Ks for quite a while and not even sure when the last time I did one was. It actually felt really good to go out and do one for a change! I was quite pleased with my finish time of 33:03 especially considering I had run 19 miles the day prior! I told grey shirt guy (Ben, I think he said) to watch out next month when we have a rematch and I have fresher legs :)

The weather was absolutely beautiful, making the event near perfect (would have been more perfect if it didn't involve a 44 mile round trip drive!)

I'm going to plan on making the trek out the last Sunday of every month to see how my times compare over the year. Hope the event is successful, but also like it just the way it was, being small.

More info at The Houston Wellness Project or on their Facebook Page

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Galveston (half) marathon

Note -- the race was on 2/5/12

Galveston Mardi Gras Marathon - the name alone sounds fun.

Doing it with Tonya, Dawn and a whole bunch of my Houston Fit buddies makes it even better!
Having a hotel room walking distance to the start & finish is the icing on the cake!

Saturday was drizzling rain, but not bad.

After checking into our large room at Harbor House & picking up packets at Fit to Run (a great running store in Galveston owned by Galveston Fit coordinator Kimberly) we didn't have much time before meeting up with the Houston Fit crew at Mario's.
Great time with the group & loved that Mario's let us order off the kids menu when we explained why.
Quick trip by the store & back to bed & to stress over what the weather may bring....

Lots of last minute stressing over the weather and what to wear. This was a Team Beef race, so I was in my tank with arm warmers, gloves, shorts, compression shorts and a hat. For some reason, I didn't think I needed a rain jacket, so just wore a cheapo plastic poncho. Big stupid mistake....
It was raining, so we waited until close to race time to walk over to the start. Didn't seem very crowded & started, in the cold and drizzle, soon after we got there.
Was pleased to see they had pace leaders! I ran with the 5:30 pace leader for a while & she explained that a race is kind of like a mullet - all business in the front (the 3:00 paces) and party in the back (the 6:00 paces)!

The beginning, going
up to the Seawall, wasn't too bad. Not much rain & we were warming up as we were running.

But once we got to the Seawall, the WINDS hit us. Not too bad as they were at our side and back, but they were making it very chilly.

We went down & made a little loop before heading back -- with the wind in our faces. IN OUR FACE. At one point, I was having a hard time breathing, like an asthma attack almost, and I realized it was because the wind was SO strong. I had to turn my head to the side to breathe!

Was also having to hold on to my hat the entire time & there were hats flying past occasionally. I had thought of picking one up for Tonya, since she was worried hers would fly off. Later at the finish line we cracked up laughing when Collier noticed Tonya had 4 or 5 hats hanging off her SpiBelt! Yup, Tonya scooped up the wayward hats along the way!

The wind, the rain, the COLD. I never took off my freakin' $1 store poncho. For a while, I even had my arms inside the poncho for warmth.

The course seemed really nice, but honestly I didn't see much of it - my head was down almost all 13.1 miles.


It was a tough, tough race due to the conditions.

Did learn something interesting: Luggies can really fly in the rain. Due to the cold, there were lots of them being hocked along the way.. Luckily no one was hit, that I saw anyway.

Announcements of names were made as we came down the Strand to finish, with lots of spectators (and random tourists) along the sides. The medals are nice - love they're on beads.
Post race food was great -- fresh pizza from Mario's, breakfast Tacos from Taco Cabana, Coke products, Muscle Milks, Toll House cookies and I think there was beer.

Back to the hotel, where it took a LONG time to get warm. I couldn't
even drink coffee because I was shaking too much! After a hot shower (decided there was no need for an ice bath as our bodies were already ice!) was warm enough for post-race drinkies!


Willie G's was across the sidewalk from our hotel.
Yes, please!!

Shots of Bailey's (in the pic), a bloody mary (oh yeah, baby!), free appetizer platter since we stayed at the Harbor House & shrimp from the kid's menu along with LOTS of laughs and story-telling with Tonya & Dawn made a PERFECT was to return to normal life after that race!

We were there for quite a while & had a blast! Our waitress was great and a friend of Dawn's who volunteered at the race came to meet us. GREAT end to the trip!

I definitely want to do this race again...and do the full BUT want to wait until Mardi Gras (based on Easter) is a couple of weeks later so MAYBE the weather will be better :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Surfside (half) Marathon

After doing the Surfside half back in 2009 (race report), I knew I wanted to come back and do it with better weather - HA! Mother Nature tried to make sure that didn't happen, but I did have a GREAT fun despite the misery of the rain.....

As race day approached, the rain prediction steadily increased from 20%...to 60%...to 80%...back to 50% and then to, ultimately, 100%.

Doreen & I went down the night before and it was a difficult drive in the DARK and some rain. Was really glad to be down there since I'm not sure if I would have made the trek on Saturday.

Saturday was POURING. From the weather reports, it was worse in Houston. And it wasn't bad as we went to the car, but right as we got in the sky opened up. Big, angry rain drops.
When we got to the beach (and I had to drive the Cutest Car In The World onto the sand) it was really hard. So hard we stayed int he car for 10 minutes or so.

There was a bit of an ease up, so we got out to hike the 1/2 mile or so to the pavilion. Stahlman Park has a great building that held pre/post race. On the way up, I saw the race clock ticking so knew the marathoner started on time (they start at 7, we were supposed to be 8).

Kimmi, Doreen & I picked up our reusable timing chips and luckily found a place to sit at a table. And waited, looking at the rain & glad to be indoor!

About 7:45 or so, the race director announced there would be a 30 minute weather delay, and possibly a 2nd 30 minute weather delay. He would let us know later..... And then 30 minutes later he introduced a meteorologist that was running the half who explained there was an electrically charged weather cell headed our way in about 20 minutes. There would be a lot of lightning (she used a bunch of words I didn't understand). The race director got back on and voiced his concern for the ~200 people out on the course and asked anyone not running the race to drive down the beach to see if any runners needed a place to hunker down (he didn't actually say hunker down). I later found out that several had and some runners did take up the offer to sit in a stranger's car.

At one point, I did go outside to use the porta potties since the line was long inside. It wasn't raining hard, but we had seen lightning. Later I heard from the marathoners just how much lightning and how close!

Finally at 9:10 he announced that we would be starting in 10 minutes.

The beginning of the race was fine. The sand was a bit dug up at the beginning since I was near the back, but once over the start mat you could head closer to the waterline where the sand was hard-packed. (They actually had start mats this time - in the past it was literally a line in the sand - no timing mat).

For me, the sand was better than running on those horrible little rocks at Memorial Park that other people seem to love so much. It's like running on a dirt road for the most part. The start, the turnaround, and one other point had some soft sand. But everywhere else it was like a trail. Later in the race, I turned around to check my footprints int he sand to see if I was running on my forefoot or heels & there weren't any foot prints. I then looked for others and for the most part no one was leaving footprints in the sand.

Around mile 1.5 I passed a lady in a Galveston Mardi Gras shirt and commented we had better weather today. She heartily agreed. And then it started raining. Oops...

About mile 2 I was passed by an older man wearing a bike helmet. Not sure if that was for a head injury or in lieu of a hat. In either case, it was a bit humbling to be passed by him. It also started to rain at this point, but not really hard rain. The temperature was good and the wind not bad.

Just before the turn around, a man running with a large German Shepherd passed me. Then the dog took a giant, steaming dump. The man did stop to pick it up. This race allows dogs & baby strollers! I only saw one person with a stroller and it look like he bailed about mile 7.

After the turn, the rain kept getting harder. We would still try to not get our feet wet, but that was becoming impossible.

Just before I got back to the pavilion, which we pass about mile 3.5, it was getting pretty miserably rainy. I think there was hail too, although others say there wasn't. I did have 8-10 seconds where I considered bailing. Glancing over at the pavilion, I did expect to see a line of runners heading in that bagged it. But nope - not a one. Press on!

The course then continued on down the beach to mile 9. So I knew there were a lot of wet miles of beach in front of me. Dug deep! There was standing water most everywhere and rain running down legs into shoes. So no worries about stepping in puddles anymore. Let's have fun!

There were runners always nearby. We didn't talk much, but everyone was really grinning and bearing it and pretty dang cheerful. I know I was enjoying it!

The temperature was good - slightly warm, which mixed with the cool rain perfectly. The wind was a steady breeze that never become gusty. To me, it seemed to be off the ocean as a cross-breeze and not something we were headed into directly. After dealing with the 30+ head-on gusts at Galveston 2 weeks prior, I barely felt this!

We had to do several river crossings on the beach! River-lets of water were rushing from the dunes down to the ocean. Some of them would be about 6 feet across and rapidly flowing. Plus, you had to step down 8-12 inches into them. I did see a lady begin to fall, luckily her husband was with her and caught her. I went down closer to the waterline and it wasn't bad there.

Was SO glad to see the U-Haul truck that was at the turnaround. Like before, I wondered HOW those full marathoners kept going out another 6.55 miles and back. I DO like the marathon distance better than the half, but not sure about on this course. LOVE running this race, but 13.1 is plenty.

RIGHT as I made the turn, the rain stopped!! It wasn't sunny, but there was a little more brightness out. Many of us just stopped in our tracks at this point.

Now for the long run back to the pavilion. It was pretty good - the little rivers of water didn't have much water flowing anymore, so it wasn't difficult to cross them on the way back.
I was able to easily do a negative split.

Once again I passed someone in a Galveston shirt and asked if she thought todays weather was better or worse. She said today was better and then a lady in front turned around and said "Galveston was worse!"

My time was 10 minutes slower than my last half (Galveston, which was slower than the one before that...blame it all on the weather!). I was 20 minutes faster than I did this course last time. I'll take it.

The beach was pretty clean. I noticed one beer can and what appeared to be a tarp, but no other trash I can recall

The volunteers were wonderful to be out at the water stops!! Most of them were manned by only a few kids. Since the race is so small, it was more than adequate. They were all well stocked with water and Gatorade. Of course, they could have just set out empty cups and let nature fill them!

As before, hardly any crowd support. There was one very enthusiastic group of about 6 people to the west of the start, so we passed them about mile 1 & 3.5 or so. Aside from that....nothing.

When I did it before, it was so foggy you really couldn't see the other runners. Made for a very lonely race. This time you often kept your head down to block rain, but I was always able to see people around me. That was nice.

I also liked that we got to see the marathoners coming back to finish. Including 3 people in BEEF TEAM shirts - yay! I was happy to note that even though they finished well before me, their race time put them after me. Granted I only was ahead by a small margin, it was still nice to know someone didn't finish the full in the time it to me to do the half.

The finish was sadly uneventful. There were a few people out there, but very few. As I began clapping, so did they so that was nice.

The medal was very nice - a sand dollar shaped metal medallion on a plan ribbon - green for half, blue for full. It was handed to us in a plastic bag and the lady asked if I wanted her to take it out of the bag. I said I wanted it on! She was very happy to oblige.

All of the post-race was in the pavilion. Mowi Wowi smoothies did not set up their tiki hut, which is understandable with the weather. They were inside making them to order, though! I had a strawberry and then later a pina colada. (No alcohol)

Post-race real food is awesome & they served up BBQ brisket, turkey and beans. There was vegetarian chili for the non-meat eaters. Cookies from Whataburger. Several sodas. And there was LOTS of food - even for the last finishers.

Long-sleeved technical unisex shirt (nice design with colored panels on the side and 2 small pockets) and a stone drink coaster.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Toughest 10K - Galveston edition

Since this was the 2nd race in the first-year "Bridge Series" I HAD to do it even though I was already signed up for the Houston Half the following day. The things I'll do for bling! (It's now started to become more about the challenge than the bling, but I'm not quite ready to admit that.)

I was dreading having to drive down to Galveston and do this race all alone. Would have loved to have someone just come along even if they didn't do the race. Luckily I was easily able to talk Tommy into doing it with me! Yay! Luv ya, man!

Price & swag:
The $40 price tag was $5 higher than the Kemah edition. There was a lot more cost involved in this race since it was run in Galveston (which is nortiously difficult to deal with) and on a federal Interstate. Not sure what all was involved int he latter, but I know TxDOT was involved.

The only swag was a gender-specific technical fabric shirt - no hat or medals. I received a nice (personal) e-mail from race director Robby Sabban explaining that this race was more expensive than the others and there was not the budge for medals. Most 10K don't give medals, so not something typically expected at races. This was after I had posted a request for a picture of the bling on their Facebook page.

When we turned off the main street onto the street behind the Galveston Daily News, people were parking all over the side of the street and walking. I asked one person if the lots were full and she said that she had not driven all the way down. So I went down there & there was plenty of (free) parking and several volunteers directing us where to park. Very conveniently located across from pre/post race and the start line. I had to do race-day packet pick-up, which was quite time consuming at Kemah (one line to get bib #, another line to get bib & packet and a 3rd line for race chips). They had the bibs in the packets and in alphabetical order, so the pickup was very quick. You still had to go to another line to pick up the chip, but that moved quickly also.

The 7am start time meant we started in the dark, but that's not too unusual for most races. We did a little section on the Galveston side of about 1/2 a mile before getting to the Causeway. There was one water stop on this section, as water stop (or any support) on the bridge.
There were impressive cones on this Interstate bridge (TxDOT requirement) that were taller and closer than any other I've seen in a race. Only one lane of traffic was blocked off. Along with the wide shoulder, this provided a comfortable course from the traffic on the causeway.
Although this pert-near 3 mile bridge is long, it was not a difficult climb. MUCH easier than Kemah!
Views were great going over to Tiki Island just as dawn was breaking. (Coming back was not as comfortable as the sun was in our eyes.)

We were just past the 2 mile marker when the race leader went past us headed back to finish. Runners were very good about all staying in the shoulder lane, leaving the other lane for returning runners.

There was a party feel on Tiki Island as we circled around. There were two water stops in this 2/10ths of a mile or so loop.

Back across we not only had the sun to deal with, but also the wind. I did take a short walk break of under 1 minute when cresting the Causeway.

Coming back, I saw the Finish line was not where the Start line was & worried "WTF?? -- Where's the finish??" Luckily, it wasn't far - we turned into the drive of the Galveston Daily News & it was right there, less than a tenth of a mile.

One minute under goal - WHOOPEE!

Although we did not get medals, the post-race food was better than Kemah (and better that many races - MUCH better than the half I did the following day). Mario's pizza had fresh cheese pizza (if you noted when they came out of the thermal carrier, it was even a bit warm. Although cold pizza is still great.) Toll House Cookies were there handing out freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Miller Lite or 64, Muscle Milk, some new fangled waters and sodas were also on hand. Oh yeah - we were all handed a cold bottle of water while in the finish chute as our timing chips were cut off. These little nicety are really appreciated!
Although the food was good at post-race, I did miss having a DJ. There was an announcer calling out finisher names, but not tunes at post-race. Koala was doing massages.
A nice post-race!
(I had 3 cookies, 2 slices of pizza, 1 beer and a muscle milk -- that pretty much cancels out the calories burned doing the race!)

One more race -- LaPorte half-marathon in December -- to complete the bridge series!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Toughest 10K

HA! Well, so much for me keeping up blogging. But, I do plan to post race reports & here's one:

The Toughest 10K - Kemah edition.
(Which has always been the only addition, but race director extraordinaire Robby Sabban has now created a 10K over the Galveston Causeway which has been dubbed Toughest 10K - Galveston.)

Price & swag:
This 10K was a bargain at $35 and in Robby fashion would include a technical fabric shirt and hat! Plus, medals to all - yeah! (All about the bling!)

Previously in the year, I had mentioned to some friends that I'd like to run the Kemah bridge, but let's just save the entry fee, do it on our own & go eat at one of the restaurants with the savings. That was before I found out it's one of Robby's races. I didn't know anyone else doing it, so was glad I signed up for the race since I have wanted to run that bad boy. (Not necessarily 4 times.)

Parking was free in the Kemah lots, which was a nice bonus. I started talking to the man parked next to me, Gerald. It was his first time running a road race in 20 years, so he was pretty nervous! I continued to see Gerald through the morning and also ran into Diane and Terry from Houston Fit. Aside from that, there were ~850 strangers.

That was more runners than I expected, which made it nice for this race. We spread out across the streets of Kemah on our way over to the bridge and were never congested. And there were always lots of runners to look at both in front and behind.

I have never run that bridge before and found it quite intimidating. I had initally thought the 2 passes meant you go over the bridge and then back over, crossing twice. Oh no....silly Anna...that's only one pass. You do that loop twice, crossing the bridge FOUR times.

Pass #1
As I was going up the first time I thought DAAAAMMMMNNNN!!! It was one hella of incline! Made the Fred Hartman look easy and Mt TCJester seem like a speed bump. Was pretty windy too -- on the way down my right contact lens was moving around in my eye. As I was coming off the first pass, I saw Terry across the way starting his second. A minute or so later the leader, John Yoder, went blasting past. He finished in under 40 minutes.

Pass #2
Coming off the bridge, the course circles around underneath. It was nice to be flat, but DANG the fish smell was strong! Normally it wouldn't bother me so much. But normally I wouldn't be tackling my personal Everest...
I walked a lot of the second pass. And it was less of an incline coming this way.

Pass #3

Coming off the bridge, the course either goes back around a big parking lot and underneath the bridge to do the second loop or off to the right to circle through Kemah and back to the boardwalk to finish.

I was glad there were mostly people still running with just a few runners that completely lapped me.
Going back up that bridge again was TOUGH. TOUGH.

Pass #4

I was pleased to see that I wasn't at the end of the pack. But going back across this time I took an extra walk break that ended up being very extended. I should have been running. Finally I had a little internal conversation/yell match with myself and got back in the race. I probably lost 3-5 minutes. Running is so mental!

The end

I was quite annoyed to see we had to go to the right and through all of Kemah before going back to the boardwalk. Even thought this was just around a quarter of a mile, that's FAR at this point!

I did set a reasonable goal for myself & finished about 13 miutes under that goal. Yeah! Still not bragging-time, but I was good with it.
Although on the way home, I was thinking I still had a little energy left, so I could have hit it a little harder....


Peter, "The Other Brother" was the DJ, so music was good. There were the promised ice cream bars, fruit, cereal & honey milk. Koala was doing massages. A nice small post-race. No hot foods, but this was 'just' a 10K.

Well that's kind of a crappy race report. Hopefully I'll get back into blogging and the ones in the future will be better :)

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Suprizing good 'freezer kill' lunch

In an effort to eat better & cheaper, I've been trying to limit my dining out to 3x per week. So with my Sunday breakfast run already taking up one spot, that only leaves 2. Meaning I should bring my lunch most of the week!

And I've used up my 3x, so I knew *should* bring my lunch today, but didn't have anything prepped. I do have a couple of emergency tv-dinners & planned to bring one of those. When I opened the freezer, I noticed a box of vegetables that have been there for a long time & the package of precooked beef strips I got at Sam't that are really good.

Tossed that in the lunch bag & hoped for the best.

It ended up being dang good!

I REALLY like this meat & will buy it again:

It's precooked, so just a minute in the microwave or a couple of minutes in a skillet after cooking some fresh vegetables & presto-- great meal!

Not sure how much I paid, but definitely worth the money! I had it in the fridge for a while before freezing it & it's still great.

Yummy, easy & healthy!

The vegetables were good too, but not sure how healthy they were.

Can't remember which one it was, but it was from the Healthy mix line at Green Giant. Possibly heart-healthy. Their website doesn't list the varieties. Odd.

It was a mix that contained black beans so combining it with the beef was a big dose of protein.

It had a sauce that was buttery, so maybe lots of hidden fat? But it's the HEALTHY line!

I got a fruit & vegetable share from Central City Co-Op yesterday, so hope to cook this evening after tempo run. Hope to we'll (meaning I) will see....

Facebook trumping blogger

I was a little late coming into the blogging realm back when it was popular a few years ago. And jumped right off when Facebook came about. Oh, how I love Facebook!

But the Facebook romance is getting a little boring now. I'm slowly starting to pull away. And would like to get back to blogging again.

The blog did mainly turn out to be about running. But most of my Facebook posts are about that too. I dislike that I can't easily go back and find posts on Facebook later. I enjoy going back and re-reading older posts on Blogger and espically my race reports.

Facebook is MUCH easier to post photos and I try to be good about adding informative captions that tell more about the race than just what's in the picture. But that's not the same as a written-out report.

Since I have LOTS of races on tap, figure I should dust off the old blog and get back to it now.

We'll see how good I do at it. (And 'we' really mean 'me' as I doubt many others will read this & that's fine.)