Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Half

Today I ran my first Half Marathon. While it's only half the distance I plan to race in 2008, I definitely feel this is a major accomplishment. It's the culmination of almost eight months of work. The vast majority of my training runs were completed at around 9:30 or 10:00 min/mile pace. I managed to average under 9:00 min/mile pace for the Half. More importantly, managed to accomplish my goal of finishing under 2 hours (1:58:39 official chip time). I wore my Garmin during the race and found that I actually ended up running 13.31 miles due to all the weaving through traffic.
I didn't cross the start line until about 5 minutes after the official start. I wanted to be at the back of the pack in order to stay out of the crowd. This approach accomplished very little. There were so many walkers in front of me that I still ended up running all over the place trying to avoid people and maintain a decent pace. I haven't done the math, but I ran the second half of the race much faster than the first. This is primarily due to the fact that I ran slowly b/c of the crowds and because I felt really good after mile 7. Mile 13 ended up being my fastest mile - exactly 8:00.
I can't say how important Paige's support has been. She's been incredibly understanding and hasn't complained (much) about the great deal of time I've spent running over the past 8 months. Not to mention the money I've had to spend on shoes and clothes. Paige's parents have also been at my last two races and their support has made the events that much more fun. I'm hoping these types of events will continue as a regular part of Varner life.
According to my Garmin, here are my split times:
Mile 1 - 9:26
Mile 2 - 9:46
Mile 3 - 9:17
Mile 4 - 9:25
Mile 5 - 9:15
Mile 6 - 9:12
Mile 7 - 9:05
Mile 8 - 8:46
Mile 9 - 8:37
Mile 10 - 8:26
Mile 11 - 8:26
Mile 12 - 8:23
Mile 13 - 8:00
I plan to take tomorrow off and begin full marathon training on Tuesday. It should be an interesting year.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Last Long Run

This evening I ran my last long run prior to the Half marathon next weekend. I ran 10 miles and felt pretty good. After not taking an ice bath after the 14-miler last week, I didn't make that mistake again. I'm hoping I can recoup quickly so there's no soreness during my shorter runs next week. I had some weird pain in my right leg during the first half mile of the run today. I definitely hope that isn't an ongoing injury b/c it didn't feel too good.

I haven't been too excited about running lately. I've been tired and don't think I'm getting enough sleep. I will definitely rest a lot this week and hit the hay early each night. Anticipation of the Half should get me back into the groove.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Rainy 14

I was bound and determined to get my long run in this week. I was scheduled to run 14 miles on Saturday, but Paige and I ended up staying with her folks in Arlington all day. We got home Sunday afternoon and it was rainy and cold. I decided to wait until that evening to run in the hopes that the rain would subside. Unfortunately, it did not. Around 6:00 PM I decided to give it a shot. Afterall, it was only sprinkling. Sprinlking turned into rain and I was drenched after the first 7.5 miles (which is when I made my pit stop at the house). I was cold and wet, so I changed clothes. I could tell Paige was a little "peeved" b/c she thought I was being stubborn for running in the cold, rainy weather. Through the last 2 miles I was wet, cold, and achy - and I'm not afraid to admit I was a little chafed as well. While the run was hard, I felt great mentally afterward. I'm undoubtedly ready for the White Rock Half next month.

Bearded Turkey Trot

The morning of Thanksgiving day I, along with 30,000 other folks, participated in the 40th Annual Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot. The 8 mile course wound through the southern end of downtown Dallas. The race began and ended at Dallas City Hall - which can be seen in the background of the picture I've included. Paige, Allie, and Paige's mom were nice enough to brave the cold weather and meet me at the end of the race. I thought the run went pretty well. My official finish time was 1:19:19 (9:55 per mile). Very acceptable given the fact that it included a quick visit to the Dallas Museum bathroom (the portapotty lines at the beginning of the race were ridiculous). I had intended to run the race with some friends from church, but the massive crowd prevented us from finding one another. I've dedicated the race to my beard.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Lucky 13

The cool thing about training for a long distance race for the first time is that each week I get to run further than I ever have in my life. This Saturday I ran 13.1 miles. I ran the additional .1 because that's the exact distance of a half marathon - which I'll run officially on December 9th. I thought the run went well. I ran the majority of miles around 9:50 per mile, which is nothing to brag about. There are three major areas that I feel that I'll need to improve upon if I'm going to be a good runner. These are my weight, my speed (which will undoubtedly be impacted by weightloss) and my mental toughness. While I'm glad to have pinpointed these deficiencies, I also struggle with being patient and giving myself time to develop in these key areas. I guess we'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

100 Mile Month

October marks the first month in which I ran 100 miles. I actually ended the month today with a 6 mile run that put my total at exactly 100 miles. The month included an 11 mile run and two twelve mile runs. The second of which went phenominally well. I felt like I could have "easily" run 15 that day, but decided to stick to the schedule and not get ahead of myself. I just checked my schedule (I'm following a personalized schedule I found on the Runner's World website) and found that I'm actually scheduled to run 141 miles in November. Should make for a long and productive month and get me ready for December 9th.

I'm also down to 205 pounds. I don't think I've put much in this journal about my weightloss (which was my sole goal when beginning this thing), but I'm currently down 35 pounds and feeling pretty good. While weightloss is still important, its become a bit of a secondary goal. The primary goal being to keep running races in an attempt to one day qualify for the Boston Marathon. Of course that goal is years away since I've yet to finish a single marathon, but hopefully it will keep me going.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Great Week

I just finished up my best week of running so far. I capped off the 30 mile week on Sunday with my longest run to date - a 12 miler. I finished in 2:02:02, which I'm preatty happy with. I've got 7 full weeks until my half marathon and I think I'll be more than ready by then. I plan to get in some more speed workouts to hopefully bring my time down. I'd like to finish the half marathon under 2 hours but I've got a long way to go before that happens.

After my run on Sunday I took my first ice bath. Sitting in a tub full of cold icewater may not sound like fun, but after 12 long miles on the road it was pretty great. This probably sounds crazy to some, but ice baths are supposed to aid in muscle recovery. I really think it did the trick. I feel pretty good today and am only slightly sore in my calves and quads. I'll rest up today (fortunately my softball game was cancelled) and hit the road again tomorrow with a 4 mile run.

Besides speedwork, the other area of running I feel needs improvement is my mental focus. The last 2 miles of my long run weren't particulary hard on my body, but my mind was feeling pretty weak. I wasn't focused and let thoughts of quitting creap in. From everything I've read in books and the web, the mental preparation that takes place during long runs is just as important as the miles being run. Hopefully I can develop the ability to shut out those annoying thoughts and focus on the benefits of the long run.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Rock 'N Relay

My second race was the Rock 'N Relay on September 30, 2007 starting at Winfrey Park in Dallas. I ran with three friends from church and one of their friends. I ran the first leg - which was 3.78 miles long and finished in 32:39, which I felt was acceptable. This was my first time to run near White Rock Lake. Its a great area for running and there were a lot of recreational runners and bikers out there that day.

Charlotte, North Carolina

I recently spent five days in Charlotte for a public transportation conference (American Public Transportation Association Annual Meeting). These conferences are generally detrimental to diets and workout routines because there are innumerable receptions, dinners, and lunches - all of which are free and include all the booze you can consume. I'd like to note now that I didn't partake in a single sip of an alcoholic beverage, although my coworkers drinked their weight in alcohol during the week. Free food is undoubtedly my kryptonite. I was really determined to make this trip an exception. I planned on sticking to my running schedule and getting plenty of sleep.

I was scheduled to run 4 miles on Saturday, the day I flew in, but I decided to watch Texas get thumped by Zero U instead. Not a great start. I was scheduled to run my longest run to date on Sunday morning - 11 miles. The first problem was that I never got around to figuring out an 11 mile route on Google Earth. With no way of knowing how far I was running, I decided to just run for two hours. I had run 10 miles in 1:45 so I figured that two hours would get me close to 11 miles. The second problem I faced was the best way to stay hydrated. I decided to run by CVS and pick up a bottle of Gatorade during my run. Carrying a heavy bottle of Gatorade while running really sucked, but it did keep me from passing out.

I ran counter-clockwise around downtown about 4 times. I'm not used to running in a large city, so it took some getting used to. The intersections were pretty annoying and really slowed me down. There were some pretty substantial hills on the north side of town. My routes at home are nowhere near as hilly - so that was a good challenge.

I ran three easy miles on Monday to get the soreness out and another four miles on Tuesday. Charlotte was a good city for running, but there wasn't much else to do. I spent most of my free time checking out the transit system. After all, I was there to learn about transit.

First Race

The first race I participated in was the Lewisville Race for the Children on September 15, 2007. It was a very small event centered in downtown Lewisville. I finished 35th out of a field of 130 with a time of 25:48. I was happy with my time considering the minimal amount of training I had put in. My only goals were to break 26 minutes, win a door prize, and not get beat by anyone under the age of 10. I accomplished all of these, just barely. Lewisville has some pretty quick 4th graders.


Happy early birthday to me. My wonderful wife allowed me to open my birthday present a few days early. She gave me the Garmin Forerunner 205. Its an awesome piece of equipment that should prove invaluable as I work to improve my running. I plan to get plenty of use out of it.


I've decided to start a blog dedicated mostly to my new found "love" of running and the transformation of myself into a dedicated runner. I do so with the understanding that only a handful of people will ever read it. I'm hoping that one day I will be able to look back on my progression, which will be detailed in this blog, and learn something about myself.

I began running regularly in April 2007 after realizing that I had put on 20 pounds since Allie was born. This was a bit demoralizing because I had worked hard to lose 35 pounds prior to Allie's birth. My motivation to lose weight the first time was what I called "Wedding Season." I participated in three weddings that summer and wanted to look my best. Having a newborn daughter obviously changed the way I spent my free time.

Seeing all that hard work go down the drain really motivated me. I decided that since we were young parents, young professionals (a.k.a poor), and new homeowners that getting a gym membership with a personal trainer was on the opposite end of the continuum from where I needed to be. Running immediately availed itself due to its cost effectiveness - and those who know me know that cost effectiveness is my middle name.

I'll continue to add a few posts focused on backfilling information on the last 5 months of training and racing that I've been able to do. Hopefully that will help me see the overall picture at some point. That way the blog will provide details from start to finish.