Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Turkey Trot Race Report - 5mi

Love me some Turkey Trottin'

This is the third consecutive year Annie and I have made the 15-minute drive over to the Woodlands, TX on Thanksgiving morning. We both really enjoy this race.  Usually it is a rather laid back event that has a 5mi run, 1mi kid's run, and a 5k walk/run.

This year was also the first time we had some decent running weather with the temperature around 45 degrees at the 8:15am start. Last year we suffered through unseasonable heat and humidity and the year before was bitter cold. This was the Goldilocks year.

We met up with our friends Bobby, Jen, and Dave and started to stroll over to the starting area. For some reason everyone but Bobby and me was walking like they were on a casual Sunday afternoon stroll through the mall! And with a few thousand people around we ended up getting separated.

Bobby and I decided to line up at the front of the pack as this race is notorious for having large groups of walkers near the front. We got to the front and I looked around and noticed that there were a lot of skinny, fast looking people today.  All the local Colleges and High School teams were there and we even had a Kenyan in full Spiro gear at the very front! Going be a barn burner!

Okay, I had not really given this race much thought in terms of pacing. This was my third race in 19 days and the legs were a little flat feeling so I just decided to go out hard and back off if it started to hurt.

The gun went off and the opening pace was ridiculous!! About a quarter mile in I looked down at my Garmin and it had a 4:42 in the pace/mi box? Holy shit, this is not sustainable, was my first thought. I backed off and got passed by a couple groups. The legs were not responding very well so I told myself to find a pace that wasn't too painful and just cruise for the middle three miles and then hammer it for mile 5.

The middle three miles were pretty uneventful. I was holding around a 6:35-6:40 pace and was passing a lot of the people that barreled by in the opening mile. Quite a few of the HS kids were now walking at this point as they all learned a valuable lesson about going out to hard!

Mile 4 approached and I decided to step it up and really picked up the pace. I passed a TON of people in the last mile and finished feeling pretty good with a new PR for the 5mi distance. Probably could have went a little harder but that would have put me on the couch for the next couple of days and I had a big weekend of running planned.

Jeff Irvin
GE Run Thru the Woods
The Woodlands, TX - 11/24/2011
Finish Time - 32:20
Overall Rank - 94/2300
Age Group Rank - 10/155
Old PR - 35:45; New PR by 3m25s

Overall I was pleased with my time but sort of disappointed in my AG ranking. In every other AG my time would have been in the top 3. Last year I finished 8th in my AG but was over 3 minutes slower? This means next year the goal is going to have to be a sub-30! It is good to have goals, right?

Annie got herself a new PR as well and had her first race that she averaged under the 8min/mi pace! She is becoming quite speedy!

Mile Splits per Garmin 310xt:
#1 - 6:08
#2 - 6:34
#3 - 6:40
#4 - 6:31
#5 - 6:04

Thanks for Reading,


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Turkey Trot Time

Tomorrow at 8:15am Annie and I will be running in the GE Run Thru the Woods 5mi Turkey Trot!

This will be the third consecutive year we have done this race so I guess it has become kind of a tradition.

Here are my results from the last two years: 

2009 - Total Time - 36:27
               Average Pace - 7:16/Mi 
               Age Group Rank - 25/143
               Overall Rank - 293/2300

2010 -  Total Time - 35:45
              Average Pace - 7:09/Mi
              Age Group Rank - 8/140
              Overall Rank - 128/2266

In 2009 the weather was a perfect 45* at the start but last year it was around 75* with 95% humidity, it was awful. This explains why my overall and age group rankings were considerably stronger in 2010 but I was only 42 seconds faster. Heat and Humidity kills!

The good news is that tomorrow we are expecting extremely pleasant temperatures!

According to Accuweather the temperature in the Woodlands at 8am is supposed to be 52* and sunny with humidity at an uncomfortable 86% BUT the Dew Point is at 48* so it should feel rather crisp.

Love this day and love this race!

Also, I am quite excited to watch the Packers vs the Lions tomorrow. It has been quite some time that meaningful football has been played during the early Turky Day game in Detroit and the much improved Lions are going against the undefeated Packers.  I really do not care who wins but I have Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, and Jermichael Finley on my fantasy rosters so hoping for lots of points from the Pack!

Is anyone else doing a Turkey Trot tomorrow? Rooting for the Pack or the Lions?

Thanks for Reading,


Friday, November 18, 2011

Random Shit ...

  • Last year I was a member of Team Trakkers/Rev3 and really enjoyed my time being part of this wonderful group and great company. It is with regret that for 2012 I will no longer be a part of the team. My work schedule is such that I will be unable to attend any Rev3 races this coming season so I decided to step aside and allow my team slot to go to someone who can give Rev3 and the Team the type of support it deserves. If you have been considering doing a Rev3 Race stop everything and go sign-up right now. You will not e disappointed! I will always be a proud supporter of Rev3 and would like to thank them (especially Carole Sharpless) for letting me be a part of last year's team!
  • Getting misty up in here ...
  • Last night I chose to start Tim Tebow over Carson Palmer on my fantasy team. Palmer has a much better match-up but I really wanted a reason to watch last night's game AND I am a True Believer of the Tebow. If you saw the game you know that he disappointed for the first 59 minutes of the game but them pulled out a "W" for Denver with a 20-yrd TD run in the last minute.  Also gave me 17-fantasy points! All Hail The Tebow!
  • This has been a difficult week on the training front. After a 50K and a Half Marathon 6 days later at all-out paces my body has decided to revolt a little. On Tuesday I got in a slow 5mi run that helped to shake out some of the soreness in my quads. I wanted to run on Wednesday but woke up with some very unpleasant pain in the lower back so decided to take an extra rest day. Last night I got in 8.25mi at a slow 9:15/mi pace and by the end of it the legs felt good but the back started to get sore again. Going to try to go a little harder today(7mi) and tomorrow(5mi) and then am hopeful I will be back to myself for the scheduled 15 miler on Sunday.
  • I am absolutely loving The Walking Dead on AMC. If you are not watching this show go set the DVR right now (Sunday's @ 9pm) as it is the best show on TV (I know that is not saying much)!
  • In case you have concerns about the possibility of a Zombie Apocalypse fear no more! Fellow bloggers Kevin, Jon, and MattyO along with myself have a plan for when the Zombie Apocalypse occurs (and it will). Since we are all Triathletes with extremely high levels of cardio training we have stepped up and decided we would defend you all as the perfect Zombie Kill Squad! The perfect 4-man zombie wrecking crew. For more details on our plans you should really follow all of us on Twitter - it might just save your life!
  • If you have been enjoying all of my recent race reports then you are in for a treat as I have quite the packed race schedule! On Thanksgiving we will be doing our normal 5mi Turkey Trot in the Woodlands. On December 4th I will be running in another Half Marathon over the Fred Hartman Bridge - this is the famous Sausage on a Stick race! I am considering running this race with a Flip Video Camera so you can see everyone suffering as they run over one of Houston's largest bridges and then back again! Then on New Years Day I will be doing another 1/2 marathon in my backyard at the Texas Marathon race in Kingwood!

Thanks for Reading,


Monday, November 14, 2011

San Antonio RnR Half Marathon Race Report

Click image for larger view

At one point the day before the race I considered not running as my legs were still not feeling good from last weeks 50K Trail Run.  Based on the results this would have been a mistake as this was a big time PR and also accomplished a small goal I had set of running a sub-1:30 Half Marathon. This was by far the largest race (over 30k) I have ever ran.

Race Morning:

Annie and I were staying at the "Haunted" Menger Hotel which was two short blocks from the start line. The hotel was awesome and I will post some pics from it later. No ghost sightings ...sigh.

The race started at 7:30am as opposed to the normal 7am starts we have become accustomed. The reason for the later start was that the organizers had put together a charity ride on the marathon course. Makes sense since the roads are already shut down. I saw many a cyclist who was pumped about being able to ride through the city sans traffic.

There were over 30,000 people running the full and the half so toss in all the spectators and the Alamo Plaza/Convention Center area of San Antonio was packed jammed. We run with the LifeTime Fitness Run Club from the Lake Houston LTF and we had around 20 or so run club members doing the race so we spent the time before the race looking for everyone.  Once everyone was located it was time to get ready.


The way these large Rock n' Roll series races work is that they have corrals based on your expected finish time. Annie had heard they had over 30 corrals this year and to look down the street this would have seemed right as runners were lined up as far as you could see.

My friend Bobby and I were in the first corral as we both put down an expected finish time of 1:30 for the half. Our corral had all the pros and a bunch of intimidating-looking (aka-skinny, not tough) elite runners. Bobby had run the 50k last weekend as well and we both decided to take it easy as our legs were still a little out of sorts.  The plan was to just start off and stay with the heard and then back off a little when things spread out and we could find some real estate to claim as our own. This plan was a massive fail.

The gun went off and we starting moving at around 7min pace. Surprisingly, my legs had some spring in them and felt remarkably good. Bobby was with me for about the first mile and I looked back and told him I was going to see what I could do.

The first four miles felt pretty good, lots of turns on the course and a few hills made it difficult to find a real rhythm but it was so early in the race that it did not really bother you too much. At the mile 3 point there was a band and a bunch of people handing out drinks. One guys was yelling "Root Beer" and I grabbed it thinking a shot of soda would give me a boost. Well, it was Jager. Half of it went down the other half went out my nose. If it wasn't so damn funny I would have turned around and punched the guy in his head.

By mile 5 the lactic acid was starting to creep up in my quads and my new goal was to see if I could hold a 7min/mi pace. The lactic acid burn became manageable and for the next 4 miles and I was just cruising along enjoying the day. Somewhere around mile 9 the sun started to come out and you could really start to feel the humidity. I noticed my breathing was becoming labored and an uncomfortable lung burn was beginning to rear it's unsightly head! I told myself to hold the pace until mile 10 and then just back off and cruise on in over the final 5k. For the second time today a plan was a massive fail.

A few weeks back I had done a 10mi Race (10 for Texas) and despite some muscle issues I ended up with a strong finish time of 1:11:08. So when I passed a race clock at the 10mi point and saw the time of 1:08:45 blaring at me it was time to make a decision. I looked down at the Garmin and did some quick math and figured I needed a time of 20:30 over the final 5K to get in under 90 minutes.

Actually said to myself out loud, "This is gonna hurt!"

And the race was on.

I passed a ton of people in the final 5k and just kept tuning out the pain as the Alamodome kept getting closer and closer. The final 1/2 mile of the race is up a big hill. Last year I was a spectator standing on this hill and I was remembering all the people I saw walking into the finish. That would not be me this year as I hit the hill with authority and busted ass up that sucker.

I crossed the finish line with 28 seconds to spare - 89minutes, 32 seconds.

Jeff Irvin
11/13/11 - RnR Half Marathon
Time: 1:29:32
Overall Place: 149/19365
Gender Place: 125/7337
Age Group Place: 10/1192

Here are the Garmin Splits:

1 - 6:59
2 - 6:46
3 - 6:42
4 - 6:50
5 - 7:00
6 - 6:58
7 - 6:52
8 - 6:46
9 - 6:39
10 - 6:45
11 - 6:41
12 - 6:51
13 - 6:31
.1  - 5:50

Overall this was a fantastic race.  Spectator support was amazing and running through San Antonio was pretty cool. The weather ended up being warm and humid but we all made the best of it as us Texans are used to the pea soup. We enjoy San Antonio and this race so much that we will be doing it again in 2012! Whose in?

A big congrats to my wife Annie who set a PR @ 1:53:01. Congrats to my friends Bobby and Beth who also set PR's of 1:42 and 1:47 and to all the other wonderful runners from the LTF Run Club!

And another huge shout out to my cousin Bonnie who did her first 26.2 yesterday! She is super competitive and did not let the mid-80 degree temps slow her down. Congrats Bon!

**** Edit **** I just re-read this race report and it was not very fun and much more serious than most of my Race Reports.  I apologize for this and leave you with a picture of me kicking Predator ass:

"You Are One Ugly M*******"

Thanks for Reading,


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ghosts and a Half Marathon ...

Annie and I are getting ready to head out to San Antonio for the Rock n' Roll Half Marathon tomorrow. We will both be running the half distance this year.

Annie is going to try and run under a 1:55.  This is the time that qualifies you for early entry into the Houston Marathon and if she misses this time then you must rely on the luck of the draw in the lotto.  The weather is supposed to be a little on the mild to warm side, which sort of sucks!

I really have no time goals as my legs are only about 75% recovered from last weekend's 50K Trail Run. I've done a couple of short runs and feel okay but the "zip" is definitely missing from my step so I am just going to run and see how it turns out!

I am more excited about staying at the Historic Menger Hotel directly across the street from the Alamo. I dig old buildings and the history that surrounds them. The Menger's known to be one of the most Haunted Hotels in America!  Booooooo....

This looks bogus to me but maybe I will be proven wrong tonight:

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thanks for Reading,


Monday, November 7, 2011

Rocky Raccoon 50K Race Report

The Bling
Rocky Raccoon 50K Trail Run
Huntsville, TX - 11/05/2011
Jeff Irvin
Overall Rank:  7th
Age Group Rank: 1st

Back in 2009 I did my first 50k trail run at Huntsville State Park. It took me 6h 19m to finish that race and about a month to get over the damage done to the legs and IT band. I was happy to finish that race but have always felt that I severely under-performed on that day and in the back of my mind I have been looking for Redemption.


The alarm went off at 2:45am and I promptly smacked the snooze button with ninja-like precision. Alarm goes off again at 2:54am and it is time to get the show on the road. Annie, being the world's best sherpa, snaps to it and we plow some breakfast and pile in the car for the hour and fifteen minutes drive north. My friend Bobby was running the race as well so he crashed in the guest room that night and around 3:30am we were on our way to Huntsville.

We got to the state park, picked up our packets, and went back to the car to warm-up. It was around 40 degrees, which is quite chilly for us Southerners. The race was scheduled to start promptly at 6am so this meant we would need headlamps for the first 90 minutes.  

The PreRace Shiver
One of the things I really enjoy about trail races are how laid back and friendly all the other racers are. We were all standing around 5 minutes before the race chatting and joking about what the upcoming 31 plus miles were going to be like.  I meet Annie's friend Nicholas, who was running the race, and we both had the same goal of coming in under 5hrs. Just good, solid people up there in the Texas woods!

The Race:

The race is two 15.5mi loops over single paths and old jeep roads. After the RD is done with his announcements he tells us he is going to walk up to the trail head entrance and sound the starting gun from there. About a minute or two later we hear him yell the race will begin in 45 seconds. I turn to the guy next to me and say, "Where the heck is he, I cannot see a thing?" The guy next to me says, "I don't know? Guess my plan to follow you isn't going to work?"

Gun goes off and 100 people head out in a single file line and we somehow find the trail head and the race is on.

First Loop - Miles 1 - 15.5:

The beginning of the race is on a single path and is a slight uphill for about a mile. A group of about 8-10 guys form off the front and we are moving at a pretty conservative pace trying to navigate the terrain of roots, rocks, sand and stumps. At the one mile mark you hear a bunch of garmin's all simultaneously beep and/or vibrate and I promptly announce, "Only 30 miles to go guys!"  

Everyone had a good laugh as we crossed over the main park road and into the heart of the trails. This section is technical and you had to be very careful not to catch a root and take a header. After we crossed the road a younger guy with his shirt off (it was sub-40 dgrees) took off and dropped us all with the freaking agility of a jungle cat. He was so light on his feet that it looked almost effortless as he ran through the single trail switch backs. He would end up being the overall winner.

At this point we had a solid group of about 8 guys and Nicholas took the lead pulling us successfully through the dark forest. We finally came out to the jeep trail around mile 4 and headed out on the first out and back section to the #1 aid station.  The jeep trails are pretty worn but a lot safer to run on so it is a little bit of a mental break.  

After the first aid station around mile 6 me and a couple other guys jumped out to the front and slightly picked up the pace. I really didn't want to go much faster but I sort of wanted to shake things out a little and see who the runner were. Since I had the strongest headlamp I took the lead and this was not fun. A couple of roots jumped up and hit me pretty good. I never went down but stumbled a few times and at one point twisted my left knee pretty good. It stung a little but I was able to quickly shake it off. 

We headed back down the jeep trail and I started chatting with another guy. Very cool dude and extremely efficient runner. I am pretty light on my feet and have decent form, next to this guy I sounded like a two-ton bull stumbling down the cobblestone streets of Pamplona! 

In our conversation he confirmed my observation about his running.  He had been a 2:21 marathoner and an 8:47 Ironman! Extremely badass! I asked him to save me a few pieces of pizza at the finish line. He finished second overall.

At about 8mi we hear someone coming up behind us and turn around to see the jungle-cat guy who was in the lead? He has a big smile on his face and tells us he took a wrong turn and was lucky to see our lights. He promptly re-takes his position off the front but for some reason me and the two other guys decide to try and run with him. We cover the next two miles at a sub-7min pace as I was sensing he did not like us with him. Now I am still feeling comfortable but the voice of reason in my head that I usually ignore started to make some sense about my inability to hold a sub-7min pace on these trails.  I slowed down and the other two guys (jungle cat and elite runner guy) pulled ahead and shortly after that one of the the other guys I had been running with decided to kick it up a notch and he passed me around mile 13.

At this time I coasted into the finish area in the 4th position and it was time to start lap number two!

So fast the camera could not keep up!
Making the turn 
Annie and Beth - Best Volunteers Evah!

Second Loop - Miles 15.6 - 31.2ish:

I made the turn and Annie and my friend Beth were volunteering at the aid station. It lifted my spirits to see them and they quickly grabbed my water bottle and filled it up. We were able to leave a drop bag at the turn around point. In the picture about you will notice my hands are full. I was dropping of my head lamp and empty EFS Liquid Shots container. I tossed these into my bag and took off. The entire turn around, drop off, and refill probably took no more than 20 seconds.

I headed back out and saw Nicholas coming in and he was maybe 2 or 3 minutes behind me. The next 6 or 7 miles were pretty uneventful. Aside from the 50k, their was also a 25k and 10k taking place.  The 25k started an hour after us and the 10k started 30 minutes after the 25k.  This meant the trails were a little more crowded but it was also sort of nice to see other people.  

About 20 miles in my left knee that had been twisted earlier started to give me some grief. It felt fine climbing and running the flatter areas but hurt like hell when I tried to run the downhills. It was more of a swollen/irritation type of pain as opposed to a sharp/stinging pain so I knew it wasn't serious and would just have to suck it up and nurse it later.

Around the 22nd mile I heard someone yelling behind me and it was Nicholas.  By this time I had been running alone for a couple of hours so it was nice to see him. We ran together the next 4 or 5 miles. He was having some hip flexor pain and I was gimping along down every downhill. We chatted it up and it really helped pass the time.  I was trying to stick to his shoulder for as long as I could but at one point looked up and he was gone! He had an awesome race and finished in 4th place.

Once again I was alone and just trying to focus on moving as fast as I could without falling. It was getting harder and harder to lift the feet up over the roots and my form had become much more of a shuffle than a run. At this point I was in need of some motivation and believe it or not that motivation was strapped on my left wrist in the form of my Garmin 310xt! Right at this point I looked down and simultaneously hit the 26.2mi mark and my split was 3hr 45m - not to shabby on the trails and this gave me the boost I needed.

The knee was sore and limiting me a little but at this point in an ultramarthon everyone has some sort of hurt going on - this is when you just have to dig down and focus on putting one foot in front of the other.     Over the final four miles two more guys passed me and they passed with authority. It sucks to get passed but you got to respect the effort from these guys this late in the run. 

The final few miles hurt and hitting the finish line was great because it meant I could stop.  

Only a few more yards to go!

My type of finish line!

Post race activities included cookies, a bag of M&M's, ice on the knee, warm clothes, and cheering on the rest of the field:

Front Row Seat in the Sun!

Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta.
My Trakkers Teammate, Anne, was also running the race and this was her first 50k. She finished with a huge smile and told me she had a blast. And because she is crazy and 31.2 miles is not enough she went and ran an additional .8 miles to give her a round 32mi for the day. Go check out her blog to read about this lunacy!

Okay, I am not usually a flip flop with socks type of guy but my feet were too swollen for shoes and it was to cold to be with out socks - bring on the jokes (-:

Funny story. So I am sitting and waiting for Annie to come over so she can take a picture of me Tebowing in front of the lake. At this time a guy just finished the 50k and I overhear him telling his buddy he wants to get a pic Tebowing in front of the finishers chute! This led to a lot of laughs and then of course, group Tebowing:

Lake Tebowing:

Bobby Tebowing at the finish line:

Couple Tebowing or Couplebowing:


What worked?
 - EFS Liquid Shots: I carried one flask for each loop for a total of 800 calories.
 - First Endurance PreRace Caps: Three caps 30mins before the race and three more at the turn around.
 - EFS Drink: Started with a 20oz bottle with three scoops or 300 calories.
 - Hoka One One Bondi B Shoes: Review to come later but these shoes are a little slice of heaven on the trails!
 - Peeing myself while running: After stopping to pee three times on the first loop I decided enough was enough and in the words of Harry from Dumb and Dumber, "Just Go!"

What did not work?
 - HEED:  This was the sports drink at the aid stations and it tastes awful. It gave me some calories and some hydration but the taste is horrendous. I actually considered licking the dirt at one point to get ride of the aftertaste. 
 - Amphipod Full Tilt Hydration Pack: It was rubbing against my back. I left it hanging on a sign at mile 16 and picked it back up at mile 30. I would not have been upset if someone would have stole it.
 - Tebowing.

I came into this race with the goal of finishing under 5hr 30m. My stretch goal was under 5hrs. My final time was 4hr 39m which is a PR of over 1hr 40m. 

That my friends is what we call Redemption.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Oh Marathoning ...

  • Yesterday was the official start date of my 18-Week Training plan leading up to the Woodlands Marathon on March 3rd. I am using the Pete Pfitzinger Advanced Marathoning 18/70 Plan.  Click here to view plan.
  • This will be my first stand alone marathon and my goal is to go sub-3:10.  If able to achieve this goal it would be enough to qualify me for the Boston Marathon.
  • The pace for a sub-3:10 marathon is 7:15/mi - very attainable, I think, will let you know in 18-weeks.
  • On Saturday I am racing in the Rocky Raccoon 50K Trail Run. This is by no means an "A" race but I will be going as hard as humanly possible. My PR for a 50k is 6h19m and I intend to smash this time to smithereens.
  • The trail race is at the State Park in Huntsville, TX and a very cool area. The course is made up of a combination of single lane paths with switchbacks and roots galore and old, rundown jeep trails. My plan is to move slow and steady on the single paths as to not turn an ankle or take a header into a tree. Once I hit the jeep trails it is time to open it up and make up some time. The goal is to get in under 5h30m for the 31miles run.
  • October was a solid month on the training front. I decided to only run this month to give myself some much needed R&R from swimming and biking. I ended up running for 31hrs and concluded the month with 209mi on my feet. This is the most miles I have ever run in a single month, but will end up being about average for the next 4 months.
  • The new show Terra Nova is absolute ass. Had high hopes for this one but it seems after the show creators figured out the cast they realized they forgot to higher hire (happy RA?) writers and were out of money. My theory is they are just making it up on the fly.
  • However, the second season of The Walking Dead has been amazing and has given us all hope of the future of TV.  At times the pacing of the show is a little slow but they are using this to effectively develop the characters. I find myself excited for Sunday nights because The Walking Dead will be on - if you haven't seen this show yet check it out on AMC.
  • On Saturday I will be doing the 50k race wearing Hoka One One Bondi B shoes. If you are unfamiliar with these shoes, as most are, stay tuned as I will have a full review of them next week. They have changed the way I approach running ...
  • To add some positive mojo to my life I am considering Tebowing at multiple locations throughout the race on Saturday.
Next post will be the 50k race report with hopefully tons of pictures!

Thanks for Reading,