Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K Race Report

Today was another race, a 15K this time. The event had both a 5K and a 15K race.

The day started off pretty early. I wasn’t sure what time to try and get to the event. The 5K had a start time of 7:30am and the 15K a start time of 8:15am. When I looked at the parking map, they had the participants on the opposite end of Fair Park. Quite a walk away. It was also cold. I decided to try and get there for 6:30-6:45am. I figured the 5K would have the most participants and I didn’t want to end up getting there after them and having to park far.

It turns out that they opened up an additional parking lot right by the start and since I got there early enough, I was able to park there. I was about 25m from the start line and just about 50m from the finish line. It was great.

I got there early and it was cold so I hung out in my car and watched as the 5K folks arrived. The 5K race was huge. Looking at the 5K results afterwards showed 7,945 finishers. It took about 30 mins for them to get all the 5K runners over the start line. BTW, the 15K was no slough either. The final tally showed 4,329 finishers.

Once they were gone, I lined up in my coral and looked for the pacers. My coral had 10:00, 10:30, and 11:00 min/mile pacers. I hung around the 10:30 pacer. Once the race started I was a bit ahead but by the end of the first 2 miles, I was near that pacer. Unfortunately I then started to take walking breaks and eventually the 11:00 min pacer caught me and hung with her for a while. Based on my watch and my mile splits, the pacers were both a bit fast. Eventually I fell behind the 11:00 pacer and ended up just running my own race.

While the weather was cold at the start, but the end, it was rather warm. I almost wore my tights, but I’m glads I stuck to shorts. I wore two shirts, but I could have gotten away with a short-sleeved shirt at the end.

Like my last race, the half-marathon, this 15K course had quite a number of hills.

I ended up finishing the race in 1 hr 45 mins. Here are my results:

Overall, I enjoyed the race and I will definitely consider doing it again. The only downside is that for packet pickup, I had to pay for parking. I wish I didn’t especially since I was only there for 15 mins.

Mansfield Run With Heart Half-Marathon Race Report

As I build up for my marathon in March and Comrades (fingers crossed) in June, I have to do longer and longer runs. I started to try and find races that were of the equivalent time or distance I needed to run. Today called for a 2 hr 40 min run, so I signed up for the Mansfield Run With Heart Half-Marathon.

This is probably the most convenient race I would even find to do including shorter distances. It takes place just a 5-10 min drive from my home.

There was only one negative to the whole experience and it was around the packet pickup. Their website indicated that packet pickup could be done on Thursday at Academy Sports from 11 am. I got there around 11:45am and no one was there. The store employees mentioned that other runners had also come by to try and get their packets. It turns out that they had wrong information on their website, or perhaps they originally planned to have a packet pickup on Thursday but changed their mind. I was able to get my packet on the Friday.

On race morning, I had a decision to make…what to wear. The temperature was around 40F. I was originally going to go with tights, but I decided last minute to go with shorts and just two layers on top. A short sleeved t-short and a long-sleeved over it. I think this was the right decision. I was a bit cold while waiting for the race to start and for the first mile or so, but after that I was dressed perfectly.

As I’m accustomed on my long runs, I carried all my fluids, SOS Hydration, so I didn’t need to depend on any water stops.

My race started well. I was very concerned about going out too fast. I wanted to run this like a normal training run so I focused on that for the first two miles ensuring my pace was where I wanted it to be.

I was in for a shock after the first mile. I had two overpasses to go over. I ended up walking to them and taking advantage of the downhill on the other side. I ended up averaging right around 11 min miles for the first 8-9 miles. It seemed that I was constantly going up hill. Who would have thought that Mansfield had so many hills?

Around mile 9 I had to start taking walking breaks….the first since the initial overpasses I had to go over.

Once I got to the two hour mark, I realized I could finish within 2:30. I ended up finishing in 2:29.

In the end, I was glad I use this as one of my long runs. It was much more enjoyable, and it seemed easier to do the long run with other people around. They provided good pacers once I found folks that were going at my pace, I just hung back and followed them. Towards the end, the folks up ahead provided great motivation to try and either keep up or even pass them. I managed to pas 2 people within the last 100m.

If I find myself needing (or wanting) to do a half-marathon in January 2021, I wouldn’t hesitate to do this one again.

Addendum – Jan 27, 7:15amWell, in looking at the results for the race, it appears that I have a second complaint about the race. They show me as not having actually done the race. I wore my bib on the front of my t-shirt. The back had the timing chip

I have reached out to the race organizer to try and figure out what is going on. It’s strange….this is not a race I tried to get a PR and it was only a training run, but not seeing my name amoung the list of participants with an official time is quite distressing.

Addendum – Jan 29 – My race results eventually got posted

Ironman Arizona 2019 – DNF

Yes folks, you read the subject title correctly. I have managed to rack up another DNF. My second. My first was at Ironman 70.3 FL. Once again, the swim was the cause, but more on that later.

My day started off a little hectic. Transition opened from 5-6:30am. I was doing the Ironman with my sister Alana and a few other folks from Trinidad, two of whom were staying at the same hotel as us (Abeo and Giselle). We decided to get to transition for 5:45am figuring that 45 mins was a good amount of time. It was just barely enough time.

Lesson Learned: Next time allow a full hour.

While in transition, I realized that we needed to get our wetsuits on as we had to put our clothes into the morning clothes bag and leave it in an area within the transition. That is, we couldn’t put on our stuff outside of transition. Time was running out and in my haste to put on my wetsuit, I tore a 2″ hole on the right side of the abdomen area. That raised my stress level a bit. We managed to try and patch it with some electrical tape, but we knew it would not hold and it came off in the first few mins of the swim. In the end I don’t think the hole caused any issues.

Lesson Learned: Have some duct tape and possibly a wetsuit repair kit as they can repair it in 5-10 mins and can be used right away

I then heard the start of the pros and I was no where near the swim start so that was a little stressful. I hugged my wife and hurried off to find my self-seeded position. Since I swam 2.4 miles in the pool in 1:40, I figured I would start near the back of the 1:40 group. And then we had to wait…I think it must have taken about 20-23 mins from the time I got to my corral till I got into the water.

As I got it, I pulled on the neck part of the wetsuit to let water in. It was cold, but not too bad and that helped relieve any suction of the wetsuit. I then started swimming and within the first 50-100m I started to feel the way I had at my Ironman 70.3. I was out of breath and started to panic a bit. Not to the level as before, but it was there. I rolled over on my back and took a few breaths and then continued swimming. I just could not get into any kind of rhythm. I would swim for a bit and then have to roll on my back to rest or grab a kayak. This continued for a while.

I would look at my watch to see how far I had swam and the time. At one point I saw 1100 yards on my watch and I think it was about 30 mins. That was a bit slow, but knowing the race was 4200 yds I figured I was OK. I then continued swimming and resting. I got to about 2000 yds and my watch said about an hour. I was half way there and still good on time, but…I recall at the Athlete Briefing, the announcer said that when the buoys change from yellow to orange you are half-way there. I was still seeing yellow buoys. I then thought that perhaps the announcer was just trying to help boost our spirits and the orange buoys started past the half-way mark.

When I finally got to the first orange buoy I asked someone on a kayak if that was the half-way mark and they confirmed it was. I looked at my watch and I think it was about 1:15 or thereabouts. I was totally deflated at this point! I knew in my heart that I was not going to make the cutoff. Sure, I could swim 2100 yards in the pool in 45 mins, but based on how I was swimming in the lake, I was not going to suddenly swim faster. I debated if to just pull out, but I remember my wife saying to just keep swimming no matter what happens. I decided to carry on.

Interestingly, it was at around the half-way mark that I did manage to get into a rhythm and feel more comfortable swimming. I still had to take breaks but they were a little less frequent. That same volunteer I asked about the distance at the half-way mark kept kayaking alongside me and encouraging me. She was so great. I was surprised after seeing her for the next several hundred meters and in the end she actually stayed close and kept encouraging me for the entire remainder of the swim until I got out of the water.

Then my watch hit 2:20 and I was still no where near the exit. My day was definitely done. I kept going. By the time I hit the exit, I was swimming for 2:31. I missed the cutoff by 11 minutes!

The volunteers helped my out of the water as I was a bit wobbly after swimming for 2:30 and one told me that I missed the cutoff. I told them I knew and they took my timing chip. Later that day I was thinking about the volunteers and I have to believe that having to pull someone from the course is probably one of the hardest things they have to deal with during the day. As I was walking to the transition area to collect all my stuff, I was walking alongside another lady that came out of the water around the same time as me. She too did not make the cutoff. She mentioned she had completed 4 other Ironmans and realized she didn’t train as hard for this one.

When I uploaded my swim, Garmin Connect said I swam 3.05 miles. I doubt the course was long by 0.6 miles so the GPS while swimming was just way off. That accounted for my thinking I had enough time. Interestingly, while I didn’t stick to each buoy, the map didn’t show me being much off course, but it did show me swimming on land a few times 🙂

Lesson Learned: Don’t trust any distances I get when open water swimming

After all the work I had done for the last year, my day was done in two and a half hours. Surprisingly, I was not as devastated as my DNF at the 70.3, but I was massively disappointed. Leading up to my race, I had told myself that regardless of the outcome, I was done with Ironman racing. The training was too long. I was prepared to continue doing triathlons but only up to the 70.3 distance. Not the full 140.6. I think that is why I wasn’t as devastated or depressed. In my mind, I tried, I failed, and I was done. I would just move on to other challenges. I think the other factor that made this DNF easier to swallow is that I actually finished the swim. I did not quit! Afterwards my wife was encouraging me to try again and I told her I would consider it.

For the remainder of the day, I relaxed at the hotel and headed out on the course at various points to cheer on my sister at the bike turnaround, at T2, and at the finish line.

Out of the group of us racing, Abeo didn’t finish either. She couldn’t make the bike cutoff for her third loop. Everyone else finished. Alana bettered her IM time and one of the guys came in under 14 hours.

So what is next? I’m actually thinking of trying again next year. More on that once I make a firm decision.

Comrades Marathon

UPDATE: Apparently the foreign athlete cap was also reached this morning so I actually managed to just get it!

Comrades is the largest and most popular ultra marathon in the world. It is held in South Africa and is around 90KM long. It is a point-to-point race and it alternates each year between an up race and a down race. That is, a net elevation gain or net elevation loss.

This has been on my radar for a while and I finally pulled the trigger. Yesterday I registered for the June 14, 2020 edition. A down year. Registration only just opened on October 28 and as of this morning, all 25,000 slots for South Africans have filled up. There are still slots for foreign athlete but that is expected to also close soon.

In the past, I never actually registered due to a few factors:

1) I was concerned about the running load. In the past, any time I build up my running distances, I would suffer an injury
2) I didn’t want to do an up run and so I’m limited to registering only on alternate years
3) The cost of flying there with the family

Wile doing my Ironman training, I am running less volume, but still doing long runs. I did a 2.5 hrs run last weekend and I have a 3 hr run this weekend. So far (knock on wood), I have managed to remain injury free. My left Achilles which is my achilles hasn’t been an issue. So I’m thinking that if I keep the build up gradual, the volume should be manageable. I looked at some training plans and the longest run doesn’t appear to exceed 3 hours. I may have to do two long runs on back-to-back days, but I think I can manage a 3-hr run. My body is accustomed to do ing two back-to-back long workouts, although one of those is a long bike ride.

With 2020 being a down run, the timing seemed to be perfect. I’m already in great shape due to my Ironman training and after a short break, I can move right into the Comrades training in January. I’ll be able to start with a good fitness base.

The cost is still a concern, but we’ll treat this like any other big vacation and enjoy traveling to a continent that we have yet to visit.

I’m at the point where I’m not getting any younger. If I am to run Comrades, the time is now.

I plan to still swim and bike, but they may end up bring relegated to perhaps once a week. I can do those on recovery days and hope that it is enough to at least maintain a certain level of fitness in those sports.