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Heather’s American Travels 2009

2009
Nov
Heather (430), Karen (292) and wedding party at the 30th Annual City of Douglasville Moonlight Run
Heather (430), Karen (292) and wedding party at the 30th Annual City of Douglasville Moonlight Run

Well done to Heather Jones who, while on holiday in the USA for a friend’s wedding, completed the Douglasville (Georgia) Halloween 5Km on 24 October, the Dallas Half marathon on 1 November and the Houston (Texas) 25Km on 8 November. Great holiday and excellent events.

Douglasville 5km Halloween Moonlight Run

Place (333) Time
Heather Jones 139 00:32:12
Karen Furey 320 00:52:00
* There were also 620 male runners but they didn’t combine the results

Karen and I are just back from the 30th Annual Douglasville Halloween 5K, after our friend Dianna and Bill’s wedding earlier today.  Bride and groom ran in suitable attire – bride with veil, train and ‘just married’ sign.

I met up with some running buddies from Houston days and one of them paced me to a nice paced run.  Course was a double loop round the historic downtown area, a little bit humply.  About 1,200 other people joined in, most of them wearing the black and orange long-sleeved race t-shirts to compete.  Karen walked with another wedding guest and managed a magnificent sprint finish at the end.

Times (unofficial):

Heather 31.52 (PB for 2009 – well actually the only 5K I’ve run in 2009!)

Karen 51.05 (PB for a 5K ever, I think)

Weather here cold and crisp: ideal for running.  Stayed dry for the wedding and the wedding breakfast included a ton of southern delicacies, ranging from boiled peanuts, mint juleps, grits and shrimp and pulled pork barbecue. Gotta love it!

Dallas Half Marathon

Place (3,138) Time
Heather Jones 2,461 02:32:10

Woo hoo! and Yee-Ha! Ran the Dallas Half Marathon this morning, a beautiful course that winds around the White Rock lake and through some nice residential suburbs of west central Dallas. Conditions were fair – cool to start and rising to the low 70s by the finish. Excellent organisation, from free shuttle buses transporting runners from local metro stations to avoid parking congestion. About 4000 people did the race and I was accompanied by my Houston running buddy Noah, who paced me throughout.

The course itself started and finished in a local park, and traced the edge of the White Rock lake for about 9 miles, following a bike and hike trail, with about 4 miles in and around some palatial Dallas homes in a pleasant residential neighbourhood. Despite most of this part of Texas supposedly flat as a pancake this course was what a friend of mine in Edinburgh describes as “humply” – it ebbed and flowed up and down a fair bit, which definitely slowed me on the ups.

Managed a steady 7m/km pace for the majority of the run, and was able to stick with the 2.30 pacing team (wearing pink tutus and carrying large balloons on a stick stating that they were the 2.30 pacing team). Some dry heaves at around mile 10, due in part to picking up the pace a bit too much, combined with the heat of the sun beating down, meant I finished in 2.32, which was about 20 minutes faster than my fastest training run, but 2 minutes off my ideal time of 2.30 or less.

Post-race party at the finish line involved getting out photos taken in front of a massive ‘finishers’ sign, queuing up for some free pizza, breakfast tacos, banana, Gatorade and chewy bar things.

At every mile marker someone was standing calling out both the clock time and the pace equivalent. The local Dallas running club deserve great credit for putting on a superb race, and the goody bag included 2 bottles of gatorage and protein drink, as well as a long sleeved Coolmax running shirt. Now that’s what I call a great Texan race!

Houston 25K Road Race

Place (1,300) Time
Heather Jones 1,155 03:08:26

A hot and humid overcast morning, with the gun going off at 7am, after an emotional singing of the Star Spangled Banner (though the way it was sung, by a squeaky-creaky soloist, I’d have to call it the Star Mangled Spanner). About 1,500 runners did the full course, and 80 teams ran a 3 person relay.

The route was out and back along Houston’s Memorial Drive from Downtown to Shepherd, a triple loop on what is effectively a concrete dual carriageway, closed to traffic for the duration of the race.  Conditions underfoot quite hard on the legs, but plenty to occupy the eyes and mind, with the race leaders lapping me, and an impressive downtown Houston skyline of dazzling sky-scrapers to gauge distance to the next turnaround. The race was very well-organised and marshalled, with 3 water/gatorade stops along the way, plus portable loos adjacent, and a number of First Aiders on mountain bikes patrolling the course too. The route was gently undulating – far from humply – and the street 3 lanes wide, so plenty of room to find your pace, and path, and get into your stride.

I ran a fast (for me) first km, pulled along by the front of the packers, then slowed and steadied into a fairly flat 7min/km plod. Didn’t break pace till the third lap, by which time I was heavily into the self-talking mantras – you can imagine: ‘put one foot in front of the other’, ‘I can do this’, ‘it’s all in the mind’ etc. Had to stop to scratch a couple of mossy bites on my ankle, and tried to vary my natural running style to reduce the arm burn friction – the downside of wearing a sleeveless top without the benefit of bodyglide. Walked through the penultimate water stop, and took a few steps on a couple of upward inclines, then managed a steady plod to the finish.

Good post-race goodies: a long-sleeved wicking shirt, breakfast tacos, crisps, banana, gu, water, juices etc. Better still, after a nice long soak in the bath, we went out for breakfast, and I indulged my occasional desire for the full American, including pancakes, maple syrup and bacon.

Finished in 3.08.26, a tad outside my goal time of inside 3 hours, but finished strong and can still walk straight, so all in all a good race.  Am grateful to all ERN runners who chummed me along my training runs – they definitely helped build my endurance and aided my enjoyment of the race.

Some additional photos:

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