Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Things I overheard while running easy

Wow, what a difference 7 years make. Last time I wrote on this blog was when I was still a graduate student at Rice, in age group 25-29, living with a roommate, driving my 2000 Toyota Echo, running sub 19@5k/sub 40@10k, snapping pictures at Valhalla with an actual camera and taking my dates to Taco Bell (okay, this is a lie) ;)

I would spare the personal journey of last 7 years and talk about running. I took a sabbatical from running after running Boston Marathon 2012 (Oh, how I wanted to write a race report mentioning that Brunette at Wellesley College I kissed during my run). I lived in Denver during Sept 2012 till August 2016 and while I enjoyed hiking/skiing, I stopped running almost completely. In total I believe I ran less than 200 miles in those 4 years.

I moved back to Houston for work in August of 2016. When I showed up early morning in Memorial Park in mid August to meet up with Natalie and Paul for a run, I felt like we were running 8 minute/mile for our first mile and too fast and Natalie corrected that actually it is 9:30 min/mile and I should shut up and trying to keep up. Wow, what a difference 4 years of not running makes ;)

From August 2016-January 2017. I tried to get back in running slowly and I worked my way up-to a half marathon in 1:40:xx. I lost motivation to run again after Aramco Half Marathon and so much so that I signed up for Bayou City Classic and didn't even show up to run in March, 2017. That was a wake up call but out of habit I always hit a good snooze after a wake up call. Something needed to be done. It's not that I like running (only a little bit) but I like talking about running (running data is fascinating) and hanging out with runners. I ran Bellaire Trolley Run 5k as a calibration run (20:45) and decided to start training again.

In May 2017, I started running 50 day/Every day/At least 2 miles challenge to build my base. I ran every single mile during that phase at relaxed pace (8:35-8:45 min/mile). Even though I wasn't doing any speedwork my 5k time in June dropped to 20:30.  I finished the 50 day challenge and averaged about 35 miles/week for 7 weeks. After June, I scaled back running to 3-4 days a week but still averaging about 30 miles/week. In July, I focused on getting some threshold pace running (also loosely called Tempo) during my long runs with a goal to run sub 20 minute 5k. I ran Outriggers 5k in August and finished it in 19:52. This is why I like running, If you are willing to put optimal work the results are always there.

I got excited and thought (ha!), maybe I can still run decent after all these years. I signed up for the Harra Fall series with the goal that I should train so I can keep my pace same for each subsequent race. The idea was to extend ability to run same pace from 10 miler to half to 25k to 30k. Anyone who knows me must have noticed that I don't like to run big mileage. 30 miles/week is my sweet spot  with 4 times a week of running. I tried to add few threshold pace workouts in those miles and here were the results leading up-to the 30k.

1) A hilly half marathon (3rd Sept, 2017): 7:17 min/mile (optimal weather)
2) 10 miler (8th Oct, 2017): 7:08 min/mile (warm and humid)
3) Houston Half (29th Oct, 2017): 7:00 min/mile (optimal cold weather)
4) HMSA 25k (26th Nov, 2017): 7:06 min/mile (optimal weather, Allen pkwy underpasses)
5) Sugarland 30k (10th Dec, 2017): 7:07 min/mile (optimal weather, flat fast course)

Now, that truly seems like a decent progress and I felt pretty content. But, what is a training season without heart break, right? It turns out that I pulled a calf muscle during the 30k race. I know myself and running well enough that I won't blame that pulled calf muscle on a random event. I believe it was due to racing aggressively in a long (30k) race with not enough mileage base (30 miles/week). However, I took it in stride and stopped running all together for 5 weeks to give it enough time to heal so I can attempt finishing the Houston Marathon.

Houston marathon is the slowest marathon I have run till date because after mile 18th, lack of training and no running for past 5 weeks caught up with me. I struggled and switched to run/walk method to finish it in 3:54. However, it was quite enjoyable experience because I knew that at least I am not injured any more and I can focus on training again. In the excitement of post marathon rush, I did do few stupid long runs at aggressive pace with Lauren and Keltie (?) but that will end now as I am focused on giving structured training one more go.

My goal is to start doing track workout on Tuesday with John Warren's group at Rice University and keep running EVERY other run around 8:30 pace. Let's see what 12 weeks of speedwork can do to my training (end of May). I plan to run few 5k's this season till early August to calibrate the fitness. This might actually be fun :)

PS: "Things I overheard while talking to myself" is one of the part of the autobiography of the famous actor Alan Alda. The other part is called "Never have your dog stuffed". If anyone is looking for some good reading then I will recommend that.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Finishline Sports 30K Race Report !!!

Past Sunday concluded HARRA warmup series race leading to Houston Marathon. FinishLine sports organized 30K race starting/ending at Sugarland town square. The race included running out about 3 miles, doing 3 loops of about 4.3 miles and returning back to the start line.

Verdict: 18.6 miles in 2:06:58 or 6:49 min/miles.

Race Report:

On the way to the race: I thought I had enough gas in the tank only to realize that I am in trouble as I was getting closer to sugarland. Thankfully I reached parking garage just in time without having to push my car :)

Many thanks to Benard Castro for picking up my bib a day before and handing it out to me on race day morning. I also thank Chris McGrew for letting me use his Garmin 405 for the race as my Garmin is giving me some problems lately.

Pre-race warmup: It is cold but not that cold. I decide to run in a half-sleeved shirt with gloves and a warm cap. I didn't do much of a warmup before the race as the race is long enough and I want to start out slow anyways. I jogged for few minutes with Mark Fraser and David Piper and lined with other folks at start line. I said hi to Dale Lee and Ed Fry and bunch of runners and few usual suspects from BCRR.

Weather looks perfect for racing except gusting wind and the wind would be crucial in this race.
At sharp 7:00 am they fire the gun and off we go.

Mile 1 to 3: I am running with David Piper and Ed Fry. The pace is very comfortable at about 7:05 for first two miles. I spot Nicole running about 50-60 yards ahead. I know she likes to run even splits so she is right on her pace. I was having lots of fun chatting around and running comfortably. Around mile 3, Dale Lee decided to join the pack in front and I let him go.

Mile 4 to 10: I started picking the pace very very slowly at the end of 4th mile. I caught up with Nicole, Dale Lee and another runner at around mile 5 or so and tried to run tangents with Dale. Dale and I fought the winds together but a pack of two runners was not helping much so we were pretty much on our own. I passed 10 miles under 70 minutes and the pace feels good, breathing is under control. All is well.

Mile 10 to 15.5: These were key miles and Dale helped me tremendously. We run side by side and when he picked up pace little too much (6:36) I told him so and we again settled to 6:45-6:50's. The pace feels good and I drank Gatorade from every water stop. Race volunteers were doing a great job. After 25K mark, I am still feeling very good and If I keep the current pace going I will end up with 2:07:XX. However, I decided to press on the gas to see if I can finish strong.

25K to Finish: I dropped to pace close to 6:35's and Dale responded by hanging in with me. I hit 16.6 mile mark and reminded myself that misery will end in less than 14 minutes. I dropped the pace to 6:20's and I believe that I have dropped Dale from my back. There is this runner who is about 60 yards ahead of me but he seems to be slowing down. I also heard a guy playing Bagpiper in the parking lot and it reminded me of the race two years back when I was miserable that that point. But, today I am flying and running strong.

I passed that guy and he just told me to keep going strong. I hit mile 18th in 6:19. It is about one more kilometer to go and the wind is really bothering me a lot. I am running alone and there is no one in sight to pass. I kept pushing the pace and made that turn towards the finish. The clock is ticking 2:06:55 and I gave on final push to try to get under 2:07. I grasp my breath after about 30 seconds of finishing and my wrist watch is stopped at 2:7:00. I feel confident that I have broken 2:07 in 30K. I checked my time later it was 2:06:58 or 6:49 pace. Dale finished about 35 seconds behind me and I have a feeling he didn't want to push as he knew that he had won his age group anyways.

First 15K: 6:55 pace
Last 15K: 6:44 pace

(I running with Dale Lee through miles 5-16, photo by Tuan Nguyen)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Weekly mileage data from August 2010 !

If I wake up tomorrow morning early enough and join BCRR for Sunday River Oaks run it will mark a special occasion. This will be first week in my three years of running that I will run 70 miles in a week. I am excited about it and more so because I am feeling very good about my training and I have no aches and pains whatsoever.

Edit: I did wake in time to join my BCRR friends for a nice and easy 12 mile run in chilly weather.

Here is a table showing weekly mileage data from August 2010. The cells marked in red are my LAZY weeks which is my secret of not getting hurt and giving my body enough time to recover from training runs.

Week No.




Jul 26 - Aug 01



Aug 02 - Aug 08



Aug 09 - Aug 15



Aug 16 - Aug 22



Aug 23 - Aug 29



Aug 30 - Sep 05



Sep 06 - Sep 12



Sep 13 - Sep 19



Sep 20 - Sep 26



Sep 27 - Oct 03



Oct 04 - Oct 10



Oct 11 - Oct 17



Oct 18 - Oct 24



Oct 25 - Oct 31



Nov 01 - Nov 07



Nov 08 - Nov 14



Nov 15 - Nov 21



Nov 22 - Nov 28



Nov 29 - Dec 05


Friday, November 26, 2010

Turkey Trot 10K !!!

I think you can't beat a 10K with $15 entry fee (no ridiculous $2-4 service fee on top of race fee), a long sleeve cotton shirt, 1.5 bottle of red wine the night before and 1.5 hours of sleep going into the race. Top it with terribly humid, almost 75 degrees temperature and it is a perfect recipe to have fun and don't run for time race.

If weather predictions were good and I was serious, I would have loved to break 40 minutes again but I was in no mood to spoil the fun yesterday.

The race started pretty normal and first 2 minutes or so were spend weaving around people to get in front. On a normal day I would be little pissed but Bob Brown said something which made total sense. He said they have paid the same money as you and to hell with race etiquette in a Turkey Trot. Who are we? I am not even middle of pack runner from racing standards so I can't complain.

I saw Simon Brabo running with Caroline Burum ahead of me and I thought about reeling them in next mile or so. Caroline decided to hang with me when I passed them at mile 1.6 or so. She asked if we can maintain the pace and I wasn't sure. I see the Lara cheering on us and it was totally worth to shout for her. At this point the goal is simple. I don't wanna run any mile slower than 7 minute mile and see if I can push little bit in the end.

Caroline and I ran together till 3.5 mile or so and then I dropped her. I was fortunate enough to see my friends cheering me on (Deborah, Rosie, Lindsey, Jamie, Tucker, Lara, Sam, you all are awesome). I picked the pace little bit at mile 5 or so and finished last 0.3 miles (6.3 according to my garmin) at 5:42 pace. Overall, 41:39 or about 6:43 min/mile. (6:28, 6:28, 6:53, 6:43, 6:48, 6:39, and 5:42 for last 0.3).

I didn't stay longer after the race and just got home and caught upon my sleep.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

HMSA 25K 2010 Race report !

Many thanks to Lisa Foronda for picking my bib and sprinkling good luck on it :)

I wanted to break 1:46 in 25K as mentioned in my previous blog post. I had a good week leading to the race except a few glitches. I usually like to do one quality workout in the week leading to the race. On Tuesday evening I wanted to do a hard 6-7 mile tempo run at 6:35-6:40 pace. But it got so dark and there were so many water puddles around Rice that I opted to do a long Marathon pace run (10 miles at 7:10) rather than a tempo run. I ran easy rest of the week (Wed/Thursday). I took Friday off because I wanted to join ASHA folks for an easy run on Saturday morning.

Now, running with BCRR has taught me to be very prompt for runs. I showed up exactly at 6:40 for 6:45 am run and had to wait till 7:25 to start the run because no one showed up in time. Bummer !!! However, there was a silver lining. I met Sachin who is a relatively new runner and very enthusiastic about running. I ran 6 easy miles with him at about 10 min/mile pace. I advised him to be patient with running and that it will surprise you in due time.

For Sunday's race my concern was that I spend too much time on my feet on Saturday even though I only ran 6 easy miles. But the weather seemed beautiful and I decided to go with my goal. I did a 1.2 mile warmup with some Tornados friends and legs felt all right (No strides in warmup).

Loop 1:
Mile 1: 6:55 (Went out easy)
Mile 2: 6:58 (I don't like it at all, I am feeling some tightness in my leg and wonder if I should stop and lossen shoelaces a bit)
Mile 3: 6:54 (I decided not to stop but keep running and hope in few miles tightness will be gone)
Mile 4: 6:52 (So, I have not gone out too fast. First part done, now what's next)
Mile 5: 7:01

I tried to run tangents during the race. Mark Conran is running with me. I have dropped Scott, David, Simon and Heidi. I didn't see either of them during turn around so they must be just behind me.

Loop 2:
Mile 6: 6:42 (Nice downhill stretch)
Mile 7: 6:48 (Feeling good, bump into Jody and Nicole, Mark Conran decided to join another faster pack)
Mile 8: 6:47 (Mark Conran is speeding up and has opened a gap on me, Mark has about 15-18 seconds on me)
Mile 9: 6:51 (I am trying to close the gap)
Mile 10: 6:51 (Mark is still ahead)

Jody and Nicole were playing mindgames on me. They tried to shake me off by speeding up few times :) Jody later told me that my shoe slapping irritated her. I need to use this weapon on other racers in subsequent races.

Loop 3:
Mile 11: 6:26 (I decide to put the hammer down on downhill and pass Mark Conran)
Mile 12: 6:36 (I don't know how far Mark is but I wanna open a gap so he doesn't come close)
Mile 13: 6:48 (I believe I have shaken him off my back, don't wanna turn around and look)
Mile 14: 6:47 (In order to beat 1:46, I can't afford to slow down)
Mile 15: 6:50 (That last hill was hard to climb)
Last 0.63: 6:15 pace (I decided to push 0.2 remaining in the race. I passed two guys easily. The third one is still ahead and decided to drop another gear when crowd cheered on. Poor guy looks behind and for me that's a sign of weakness :) I passed him just before finish)

Total time: 1:45:58.2. I didn't believe it because I thought I had more cushin than 2 seconds. I am glad that I pushed in last 0.2 miles.

Corrected Total time: 1:45:50.4. Now, I can live with this. This seems reasonable :)

I will give this race an "A" effort. I went in with a plan and it worked. I have become a even bigger fan of negative splits :)

Next race is gonna be Turkey Trot 10 K. I am not sure if I can come close to 40 minutes because I have not been doing short race specific speed work. I definitely want to get under 41 minutes. We will see.

For 30K race in sugarland if the weather is nice. I would like to run 2:08:xx. That would be 6:55 pace. Although, I would be happy with any sub 7 pace :)

Finally some pictures :)
(Charging downhill)
(That's a good running form)
(Should we have some fun in our cooldown?)
(Not enough? Okay, one more time)
(After the race with my friends Alonso and Brenda)
(Happy BCRR campers. Simon, Heidi, David, Neeraj, Brenda and Molly)

Monday, November 8, 2010

HMSA 25K Race !

Weather prediction looks great for 25K on coming Sunday. Hopefully, it won't be too warm and humid like half marathon 2 weeks back. I ran this race last year and broke down mentally in the middle of race. After finishing two loops (around 10 miles) when David, Scott and Jay hendrickson opened a gap on me, I stopped in my tracks and started walking. I jogged/walked rest of the course and finished just under 2 hours. I didn't feel like running 30k last year and my training took a little dip and I didn't finish the marathon within my goal time.

This year is little different. I am training more diligently and am running more miles. I am already up around 50 miles/week. I hope I can reach 62-65 miles/week by mid December. I had a good long run on Saturday with Bob Brown and Mark Conran. We ran last 3 miles of our 18 miles run successively faster and finished at 7:15 min/mile pace. On Sunday, I wanted to do easy 12 miles but Dave helped me push the pace little bit. For 10 miles I was within 7:25-7:40 pace range but decided to push the pace in last two miles and got them in 6:58 and 6:43. 12th mile felt very good. I maintained good running form and was still able to run at a good pace.

Although, it is little premature but I want to run 25K on coming Sunday around 1:46. That is 6:50 min/mile pace. If I can get enough rest on Friday and Saturday, that should be doable. My goal would be to not go out too fast in first 5-6 miles and then try to reel in as many runners as I can in remaining 10 or so miles. One thing which bother me is that 25K seems awfully long race and it will definitely hurt during the race. I am also not sure if my right lung will bother me again as it did around mile 11 in half marathon. We shall see when we get to that.

I also signed up for 30K this year. This will mark me running all fall series HARRA races and if I can continue to run in spring, I can easily bag open runner of the season for BCRR.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Houston half marathon summary !!!

This was left in the "drafts" section for so long that I am not even sure if this should be published. But, anyways.


The weather was not ideal for most of the people for racing. At the start of the race, temperatures were around 75+ degrees. I knew that I had done my homework for the race. Good training was done and my only concern was getting dehydrated in the race and facing cramps towards the end of the race. I made a mental note of drinking as much Gatorade during the race as I can. I also used a Gu Gel pack 15 minutes before the race and stored another one in my pocket in case I feel like running low on fuel.


I did around 2 mile warm up with Jay Hendrickson, Mark Conran, Simon Brabo and Carolyn Burum. This was the first time I spoke to Carolyn though I see her name among top women runners all the time. At the start line Jay tried to find Ed Fry but we couldn't find him and the race started at sharp 7 am. Since Scott Bounds was not running this race, I knew that I will need to pace myself and possibly run alone for most part. My garmin was not working correctly for first mile possibly because of tall buildings. During first mile, I tried to get a feel of the weather which seemed quite humid and warm. I hit first mile in 6:40 and can clearly see that I have to be very careful about not going out too fast in first half of the race so I don't become a roadkill later.

Mile 2: 6:38
Mile 3: 6:45
Mile 4: 6:51

At this point, I discovered that mile markers for the race are not placed correctly. I deliberately slowed myself during mile 3 and 4 and couple of people passed me. I noticed that they were already breathing hard while passing me so I knew if I ran a smart race I will get them back. I also made a mental note about not running slower than 6:50 for as much as I can.

Mile 5: I am feeling good and legs are warmed up. 6:45. Feels good
Mile 6: I passed John from BARC without any resistance on his part. He was breathing hard and I suspected he will slow down further. 6:47. Right On !

Mile 7: I passed Jeff Eisele and can tell he is not having his best day. He makes some comment about me passing him but I am in no mood to talk. I see Jack Tonge running ahead of me. I run by Jack and he speeds up and hangs in with me for about half a mile or so. But, before the turn around at 610, I have dropped Jack. 6:48.

Mile 8: This was the hard mile to run. I stopped just after turn around and drank two cups of Gatorade to make sure those cramps are in check. I didn't like the uphill part after the turn around. My legs felt heavy on the uphill. 6:52. This was the slowest mile of the race. I know that more than half of the race is over and right now it is just hang onto dear life and speed up.

Mile 9: 6:44. Nothing much to report other than the fact that a spectator told me I was 60th in the race. I liked him telling me that.

Mile 10: 6:42. I am liking the pace but mile marker is no where to be seen. I trust in GPS and keep moving. Now, only 3.1 miles to go and if I maintain 6:40 pace, I will easily break 1:30. Can I break 1:29?

Mile 11: I speed up little more and hit this as the fastest mile of race. 6:36

Mile 12: Again, it is becoming a battle of nerves. Just hang onto the pace even though I can feel discomfort in my right lung. 6:52. This is slower than I would have wanted. But, less than 10 minutes of running left. I cajole myself to keep it up.

Mile 13: Ah, the end is almost here. 6:39. But, I can't see the mile marker and looks like there is more than 0.1 mile left in the race.

0.2 miles: I try to pass 2 more people but one of them almost sneaks on me just before finish line. 5:42 pace.

Overall: I ran it in 1:28:51. Last year, for 3 loop course I had run 1:32:56 and so I had a nice 4 minute PR in not so good weather. I believe on a good day I would have liked to get under 1:28 but today I will take 1:28:51.

Lauren Wilder also had a nice PR in warm weather. That girl is a running machine and she is very focused on her running with a good training base. I predict that she will be fastest BCRR female in almost no time. Some of my other friends suffered in warm weather and were may be little disappointed. I just hope for 25K weather is cool so we all can have a good race and run together for most part.


(At Shepherd, Photo by Avi Moss)
(Just before finish line turn, I like the last 0.1 mile sprint)

(Once all the hard work is done, Satisfied)

(PR Amigos, Lauren and I both had a nice PR)