Rock ‘n’ Rolling (’16 recap, ’17 training update)

Some people associate the acronym “RnR” with rest and relaxation. Those people are cool but to me, “RnR” will always take me back to the month of December in San Antonio, TX. That’s when the city hosts their installment of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series. It’s early in the month, so it’s not usually too cold and the weather tends to cooperate with the race events. I first learned about the RnR series when I was interviewing local runner, and 2016 Olympic Trials Qualifier, Dr. Andrea Duke. I was pretty fresh on the running scene, but big on the videography scene. I was shooting a promo for the Chosen Marathon, a beautiful race in New Braunfels, TX of which Andrea was an ambassador. She referenced the RnR Marathon in our interview and I became curious about it. A few short weeks later, I signed up for the full marathon distance at RnR San Antonio.

I know what you must be thinking. Here’s a guy that had been running for less than a year and he thinks he is going to make his first race a full marathon? Yeah, I didn’t have that thought at all. I think I was a little bit nieve as to what I could actually accomplish in that amount of time. Nevertheless, I signed up and picked a 4:15 estimated finish time (LOL.) I picked up a training plan from Runner’s World and set my focus on a mid-August (16 weeks) start. I did not think that through. Three things were not considered when I set out to do this marathon: the time it would take to build up my running economy, the fact that I started my next semester of college the same day as I planned to start training, and the fact that I would have a brand new baby that June, just before all of this started.

Skipping the unnecessary details, let’s jump ahead to race weekend. I arrived at the race expo to pick up my packet and promptly downgraded myself to the half-marathon. I had even briefly considered doing the 10k that was held the day before. In the days leading up to race weekend, it became increasingly clear that there would be rain on race day. I had a friend who had signed up for the 10k and he was trying to convince me to switch. I really wanted to, because I was under trained and less than enthusiastic about the conditions. However, ultimately I decided that if I was going to go out in the rain, I might as well do the half marathon and get my money’s worth, instead of the 10k. You read that right. The fact that it was pouring on expo day convinced me to run the further distance instead of the shorter one.

I went out and ran that race. I even set a 10k PR to start. But alas, at mile 7 the rain picked up, I was freezing, and my clothes were heavy. I made a major rookie mistake. I wore a hoodie. I had a big Under Armor hoodie that was soaked and did much more harm than good. I also wore compression sleeves on my legs and they weren’t the best for moisture wicking. So, I practically rolled across the finish line. I finished in 2:18:19. In the 30,000 people scheme of things, that wasn’t that slow. But it was much worse than I expected, even though I came in undertrained. I can say, however, that I learned my lesson. I learned several lessons actually. I need to find other ways to stay warm, never wear a hoodie again, always make sure I have put in the training time, and mentally prepare for rain…

…which is a great segway into how my 2017 RnR training is going. This will be my second attempt at the full distance, and this time my training is going much better. I am putting in the miles and building up my long run distance. I’m working on building up my “running economy.” I’m not as concerned about speed but have been more focused on distance and endurance. Speed will come after I get the foundation that I need. August was another great month (I already wrote about the big milestones in July.) I am not trying to set anymore PRs right now. I am strictly focused on getting to the RnR starting line healthy and happy. I’m looking at the 10-year plan for my running. I like to do this for health reasons, but really I have just become extremely passionate about getting outside and bettering myself. I like to push farther, run harder, and see, no FEEL, results. I also love when people start asking me about what they should do to start running. I hope to continue doing this for years and years to come. And all this UTMB fever has really turned my attention to the trails. I want to do an ultra next year! We’ll see!

July is for Runners

Let’s get one thing straight; I live in South Texas, where prolonged heat is a way of life. We basically have 2 seasons. Hot, and slightly less hot. There’s a roughly 6-week window where it’s pretty cold in the mornings, but other than that I am used to logging miles in the warmer weather. That is one of the reasons I wake up at 5:00 am and try to be out the door by 5:30. If I’m going on a 10k run, a 5:30 start time means I’ll barely see the sun rise in the summer months. Longer ones will still wrap up before the sun is too high. This is just how I do it. So to say July is for runners, knowing that I live in Texas, is a bit comical.

July 2017 was definitely my month as it pertains to running. I last wrote about an unintentional 10k PR that I set early on in the month (July 6th.) This fueled my drive to push harder and discipline myself more than I had the first half of 2017. Five days later I broke that PR by 1:37. I started the month coming off of a 66-mile month, which after a slow start to the year, was my highest mileage of 2017. My goal for July was to get to 75 miles, which would’ve been my 2nd highest since I started running. Halfway through the month, I was way ahead of pace. I ended up finishing July at 103 miles. This was my first voyage over 100 miles in a month. I also happened to set a 5k PR last week in Little Rock, AR. We took our church youth group to a conference in Indianapolis, so I got to enjoy some new running scenery in Memphis, Indy, and Little Rock. I enjoyed the change of pace and scene. We strategically placed our hotels in Memphis and Little Rock near popular running routes. The Little Rock route had some incline over bridges and even some stairs, so it’s kind of crazy that I was able to set a PR. I felt great. I was a little tired from the travel from Indy that day, but overall everything clicked. My friend Ethan also broke his 5k PR.

Additionally, July was the month for my long awaited redemption run at El Chupacabra. If you read my recap of the 2016 edition of the race, you know that I experienced a lot of frustration and setbacks. So when July 21 rolled around this year, I felt ready. I had finally purchased trail shoes to protect me a bit more from the rough(er) terrain, and I was in better shape than I was in 2016. I also brought along 4 friends, 3 of whom are pictured below. That added to the excitement and competitiveness of the run. I set out with a goal of 55 minutes and a top five placement in my age group. I ended up finishing in 1:00:14, which granted me a 4th place finish in my age group (25-29,) and 29th overall. Ethan also ran and finished 6th in our age group. I absolutely could’ve run better, but overall I am happy with my results. I started WAY too fast, keeping up with my friend Dale for the first mile and a half. That was a bad choice. At one point we were 1st and 2nd and I didn’t really have any business being up there. It wasn’t sustainable. Oh well. Lesson learned. I’m taking a restful week this week, with low, slow miles. Training for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon begins on Monday the 14th! Next week we are working a youth camp and my running time will be non-existent. I hope to get some swimming in as cross training. I keep this page updated with my training progress, and I still plan to post about RnR 2016.

A Segment Record and a 10k PR

I love going out on a run and accidentally setting a PR. This happened twice this week. Strava is my running platform of choice (although my Garmin watch also pushes to Map My Run and Nike Run Club) and I have an all-time total of 662.2 miles logged in the app. That’s dating back to fall of 2015 when I started using Strava. Before this week my 10k PR (personal record) was 57:21, which I set during the first 10k at Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio in 2016. However, yesterday I set out for a run without a set plan of distance or pace. I ended up running a 10k PR and had some of the most consistent miles that I’ve ever had. Have a look, here:

https://www.strava.com/activities/1070251412/embed/308624fe1d05ec6b3fba5fef96d368aaf6e9464f

Miles 2 & 3 were exactly the same, as were miles 4 & 5. I was shocked to see that and pleased with the effort. I felt great during most of the run. In the last mile, I became acutely aware of my empty stomach, as I had only had half a banana since waking up. All in all, I pushed harder than I have in awhile and won the mental battle that I’ve succumbed to numerous times in the past few months. This was the first 10k in a long time that I ran without stopping to walk.

If you’re familiar with Strava then you most likely pay attention to segments. These are mostly short areas of road or trail that are popular among runners. For each segment, there is a leader board that is broken down into daily, yearly, and all-time leaders. There is one particular segment near my neighborhood that is just over 0.3 miles long. The best/worst part of it is that it ends on a hill. It is usually where I end all of my runs in when I go from home. On Tuesday (4th of July) I went out for a quick 5k with my buddy Ethan and we ended on that segment. As we approached the start of the segment I told him that I was going to lean into it and see if I could break the current record, which also happened to be held by my by a margin of 1 second. I succeeded and extended my CR by 10 seconds.

Both of these efforts were somewhat unintentional. I hadn’t thought to try to break my segment record until I arrived at the start of it on the 4th of July, and I was unaware of my 10k PR while I was running yesterday. That’s one of the things I love about running. Some days, everything just works out. Some days I just click physically, and mentally. I’m feeling pretty solid about my training for El Chupacabra (2 weeks from today) and hope to at least compete in my age group. I definitely plan on beating Ethan, and our other friend Spencer, who are both also in my age group.

Adios.

Ready. Set. Go.

Here’s to the start of something new.

I’ve been running since fall of 2015. From then to now I have completed a 1/2 Marathon, Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio, and El Chupacabra de San Antonio 10k. The latter is an incredibly fun night time trail run at a local park. It’s in July, but the time of day makes the heat bearable. Last year I ran El Chup with 3 friends. I ended 51 out of 170 overall and 8th in my age group(25-29.) Considering that it was my first organized race, I was pretty pleased with the results. I was especially pleased because about 150 yards in I deviated from the worn path to pass someone and had a stick go through my shoe. It killed my time. I was hoping to stay close to a friend who ended up placing 5th overall. I feel that I would’ve had a much better chance, had I not experienced that unfortunate event. I had to stop, remove my shoe, remove the stick, get the shoe back on my foot (which always seems impossible when you’re doing it in a hurry,) and catch back up. It didn’t happen. My foot hurt quite a bit and my morale was shot.

I remember coming up one particularly steep incline of rock about 4 miles in and a girl ran past me but gave some strong words of encouragement. The running community is an extremely supportive one. Nevertheless, that race was the start of something big for me. The feeling of crossing the finish line (1:07:00) was an incredible one, and I loved the vibe of community and competition that I felt that day. El Chup 2017 is just a few weeks away (July 21st) and I’ll be back at the starting line feeling better prepared, more acquainted with the course, better protected due to trail shoes, and excited because I am bringing, even more, friends to run. I’m also planning on making a push to place higher in my age group and maybe set a 10k PR (currently 57:21.)

I plan on keeping this blog up to date as I work through this month and beyond. I’ll post about my experience at 2016’s RnRSA soon. I am already signed up for 2017 RnR and plan on being better prepared when I get to the starting line. I’m not a professional (obviously) but I do have a strong passion for running. Running helped me navigate a dark time in my life and through it all I have come to realize that there is a feeling that comes from hard work and dedication that cannot be felt any other way. I have stumbled a bit along the way and have had to get to know my body on a different level, but I am excited to share the journey with whoever may read this. Mostly, I’m writing it down for myself.

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I’ll come back soon to talk RnR and what the first half of 2017 was like.

Until then.