Wow, it doesn't seem like it's been that long since I posted but things have been a bit hectic and I just didn't get time to write anything up. A couple of weekends ago I went up to Dallas to meet a friend and go to a Cowboy's game. We had a nice evening eating, goofing off, and watching Rich Franklin get his face rearranged in a UFC title fight. Seriously, he took a knee to the face followed by a kick that left his nose centered under his eye. Pretty ugly. Anyway the Cowboys won the following day against the Texans and I somehow avoided the rain on the ride back from Dallas. It was a close call because it started pouring buckets as I pulled into the garage.
Other than that, my life has revolved around running and working. I did a 19 mile run a couple of weeks ago and then prepared for a 10 mile race last Sunday. The weather was perfect for running: 49 degrees and crisp. The only negative was a gusting, swirling 20 mph wind from the northeast that had me bundled up right until the 7:45 am start. Since the temperature was ideal I decided to set a 9:00 min/mile pace for the race. That's the same pace I'd run at the previous 10k race, but I felt that I could hold it for 10 miles under favorable conditions.
I continue to be amazed at how, with practice, I can accurately judge my pace. I set out at the start into a stiff, cold wind and my split at the first mile marker was 9:00.1. I had run the first mile within a tenth of a second of my goal pace and my average heart rate was only 156. Too slow. I was feeling good and picked up the pace to get my heart rate over 160. The next mile took 8:38 and my average heart rate was only 162 so I was in good shape. The race was held on a new tollway that is due to open this next weekend. It was a one time course that had us running 5 miles out and back along a pristine new divided highway that had never seen traffic. It was flat with the only hills being the gentle slopes as we went over ramps and overpasses. We started in north Austin heading north on Loop 1, then turned east on Hwy 45, crossed I35 in Round Rock and turned around near the Dell headquarters to retrace our path back to the toll booths where we started.
The miles continued to fly by at a pace that is pretty quick for me. Mile 3 took 8:52, mile 4 took 8:45, and I made the turn after covering mile 5 in 8:32. For reference, I ran my last 5k (3.1 miles) race at an 8:35 pace so I was flying (for me, not for real runners). My pace slowed a little in mile 6 to a 9:08 as I ran up the slight incline to cross I35 again. I was a little worried about whether I could hold the pace, but my heart rate was still averaging only 164 so I decided that with the wind at my back and "only" 4 miles left I could afford to pick it up even more. Mile 7 took 8:40 with an average heart rate of 164. I pushed my heart rate up closer to 170 and finished miles 8 and 9 in 8:21 and 8:22. My legs were burning now and I was breathing so hard that spit was creating a biohazard cone in front of me. I felt like easing up, but I could see the toll booths now and so I picked up the pace even more and hoped that I didn't fade before the finish. I was trying to catch the runners ahead of me, but they were finishing strong too. As I picked up the pace so did they. I passed several people only to have them ease back past. With about 300m left I picked up the pace even more and my interval training kicked in and allowed me to finally stride past people before I crossed the red timing mats after covering the last mile in 7:33.
In the end I finished the 10 miles in 1:25:51 and an average pace of 8:35 min/mile and an average heart rate of 164. This was a PR (personal record) over my previous year's 10 mile by almost 11 minutes and I'm thrilled at the results of the training I've been doing for the last three months. It's discouraging to do all of the hard work and then not see an improvement like in the 10k at the beginning of the month. But this time the conditions allowed me to perform at my best and get an accurate gauge of my fitness level.
My next race is a half marathon (13.1 miles) on November 12. The course is VERY hilly, but based on this race I'm pretty sure I can run it at a 9:00 min/mile pace which would again be a PR for me at that distance. This year I'm healthy and feeling good and wondering how much faster I can get before the marathon in February. Time will tell.
Anyway, after the race I had to hop on a plane to San Jose to teach a 2 day class. I was very stressed out over this class. I had never taught it before and I only had 5 days notice. I'd already been through the material, but it's different if you've never taught it before so on the flight on Sunday and in the hotel I was busily reviewing the material so that I wouldn't freeze during the lectures. In the end everything turned out well and the students gave me high marks in their evaluations. I even managed to catch my flight on Tuesday evening and get back to Austin at 1:00 am Wednesday morning. Now I'm just trying to get my sleep back onto a somewhat normal schedule and make it through the next couple of days of work.
Oh, it's also marching band competition season for the high schools. Last weekend my sons competed in the regional competition and their band scored division 1 honors and advanced to the area competition this next Saturday. If they finish in the top 4 in the area, out of 22 schools, then they'll advance to the state competition on November 6. They were state runners up two years ago (the state competition is only held every other year) and they look and sound even better than then so we have high hopes that they'll be able to win state this year. They have a good chance, but they are facing some extremely tough competition.