Saturday, February 26, 2011

Great Urban Race Austin 2011

*Sorry about the spacing of the pics vs the wording. Blogspot is not spacing as I want it to.*

As part of my objective to "have fun" this year, my friend Selene and I signed up to do the Great Urban Race. It's kind of like a local Amazing Race. We decided to do this just a couple of weeks before the race, so we didn't have a lot of time to prep or strategize, but I had read a race report I found online and gotten some ideas of things to do.

This morning we met and rode downtown together. We went to the race start and checked in to get our race numbers. We had Joel, Madison, Dalton, Brandi, Amy and a friend of Selene's at home ready to search the Internet for our answers and we had Tom and Patrick downtown with us. Their plan once we got clues was to help us figure out the best route between them.

Once we were allowed to open the clues, I snapped pictures on my cell phone and texted them to our support crew as Tom, Patrick and Selene tried to figure out what they could. Some were fairly easy. Once we had a few figured out, Selene and I headed out. I had read from last year that there was a clue in the paper, so this morning I scanned the classifieds and sure enough there was a clue in there, so I had that and it was fairly far north of the start. We figured that might be the furthest north, so we decided to start there and work our way back south.

Unfortunately, neither of us nor any of our support crew was overly familiar with the public transportation so we decided to head that way on foot. This was probably a couple of miles from the start and took us 20-30 minutes to get there. We ran some and walked some and worked up a good sweat. Along the way we looked for opportunities to take pictures to fulfill our picture tic-tac-toe. We were able to get a picture of us with an out-of-state license plate as well as with someone with a tatoo.

We finally found our way to the Littlefield fountain and got someone to take our picture acting like we were diving into the fountain.

By this time, our crew had figured out that one of the clues was leading us to the University Co-op. We found our way there and found the Bevo statue. Selene had to make a paper airplane and I had to throw it and try to make it land on a target. We only had 3 chances. The first one didn't go very far. The second one landed on the target, but not in the middle bullseye. The third one also missed, but since I had landed on the target, they gave us the guitar pick, took our picture and sent us on our way.

These were the only two clues up north, so we started heading south. We had hoped to catch a bus, but started walking/running that way on foot anyway. Along the way we found a mural on the wall and snapped a picture to complete our picture tic-tac-toe. Three clues solved.

We continued south on Lamar to Pease Park. We had to go to the southern most part of the park and find the picnic tables with the "creatures" on it. The creatures turned out to be 2 different kinds of cockroaches. We had to properly identify which kinds they were (out of a list of 3 kinds) and then take a picture of both of us with one of us holding the cockroach. After decided what they were, Selene picked up a cockroach, we got our picture taken and then we were off again.

On our way to Uncle Billy's on Barton Springs, we realized we were a few blocks from the challenge we needed to complete at Pure Austin. We took off running to get there. We had a hard time figuring how to get inside, but once we were inside I hopped on a bike and began pedaling. The equation on the clue had given us an answer of 0.56. That was the distance I was suppose to go. The tripometer only had one decimal point. It stumped us for a bit until we heard others say their answer and realized we needed to round up. When I went the distance we had to get a pic of both of us AND the computer showing how far we had gone. Before we could get someone to take a pic, the computer cleared. The race staff reset it and got the pic and we were on our way.

Continuing south on Lamar, we headed to Barton Springs and to Uncle Billy's Brew pub. While there, we had to correctly identify 3 out of 6 ingredients used to make beer. Well, neither of us are big beer drinkers and the ingredients were in their raw form. After guessing out loud and studying the look on the staff person's face, we finally got it right. We got our coupon and moved on.

The next location was probably the southern most location on the route. We headed to Roadhouse Relics, studied the picture vs the real thing and found the 3 differences. We were off again to the next location a few blocks away.

Once we got to Mighty Cone, we had to pick up a crunchy treat. This was either a fried pickle or a fried shrimp. We both went for the pickle. We had to feed each other and have someone take a picture of us while doing so.

From there we headed up Congress to Lucy in Disquise. This is a very popular costume shop. We got a fake mustache, found a guy with a real mustache and got our picture made.

We headed north on Congress over the bridge and headed to the Children's museum. We had to make a craft there and Selene got to work on it. We were trying to get info on a bus route to take us East to get the last two clues taken care of. After the paper craft was done we headed to 3rd and Colorado where a bus was suppose to come in about 5 minutes. There was a lot of construction there, so when 5 minutes had passed and no bus had come, we figure the routes had changed due to construction. We decided to head to 4th street and start heading East, hoping to find a bus along the way. Unfortunately we arrived at our next destination without use of a bus.

At this pit stop, we had to sample some coffee and decide which 3 countries the coffee came from (we had 4 choices to choose from). Unfortunately, neither Selene or I are coffee drinkers, so this was not a challenge we enjoyed. We thought the coffee was nasty. There were several teams there at the same time and we kind of all worked together to get the answer. We grabbed our coffee sample and headed for our last stop.

The last stop was at Any Baby Can. We had to take some items for donations. Luckily you can use ground support so Tom and Patrick had stopped and gotten the supplies for us earlier. We turned those in and headed to the finish, again, hoping to catch a bus. Unfortunately, no bus.

We ended up doing the ENTIRE race on foot. We estimate that we traveled over 10 miles today, probably closer to 13. We crossed the finish line back at Maggie Mae's in just under 4 hours. The top 25 teams qualify for nationals at the end of the year in New Orleans. While we didn't think we were in the top 25, we weren't ruling it out. If other teams who had finished before us had not completed the clues properly, they would incur a 30 minute penalty. But in the end, we had taken too long.

We had a ton of fun, definitely got our workout in for the day and learned lots of lessons for the next time we do this. If the Great Urban Race comes near you, I would highly recommend this if you are the type that likes a fun adventure.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Injuries, Illness and Ice - Plus a 3M Half Marathon Race Report

"Running should be a relief from stress, a way to help cope with it, not another added stress." Bob Glover

At the start of the new year, I was determined to get back to a scheduled plan for training and ramp up enough for the 1/2 marathon I had at the end of the month. My knee had other plans. Sometimes it would hurt while running and sometimes it would only hurt the next day. I'd take some time off and it would feel better and then I'd run and it would hurt again.

So I went in to the 3M Half Marathon with my "long" run being only a little over 5 miles and knowing that I wouldn't PR. I had put kinesio tape on the knee to help stabilize it. Race morning was a little warm and with the threat of rain, a little humid. They announced at the start that the temp was 73 degrees. I was in shorts and a tank.

I started off and felt pretty good. I was doing about 9:30 per mile. I knew I could hold that for a while, but probably not for the whole race based on the amount of running I had been doing. And about 5 miles is where I could tell my conditioning was not where it needed to be.

About mile 7 I had to stop and walk for just a minute and give the knee a break. I walked through the aid station making sure I took in plenty of hydration and then was back on my way. About mile 10 I ran as far as I could and then would walk for a minute. I was ready to be done. As I got closer to the finish, I tried to keep running but had to walk yet again right before the finish. Then I ran on in crossing in just under 2:10. Official time was 2:09:52. You do the best you can on any given day and can't ask for more, so I'll take it.

I decided it was time to get the knee checked out and went to see an orthopedic doctor this week. He did x-rays and said no fracture. He twisted the knee several ways and put pressure where it would indicate a meniscus issue and didn't think that was it at all. He thinks it is a muscular issue and prescribed an anti-inflamatory. If it's not better in 2-4 weeks I need to go back and he will probably do an MRI.

My daughter also has an injury right now. Her thumb got jammed at volleyball practice and we thought it might be fractured. X-rays revealed no fracture, but the doctor said it is sprained and put her in a brace.

My son has been sick with strep throat and missed 4 days of school this week. Just when we thought he would go back on Friday, we get freak weather for here and he missed Friday due to an ice/snow day. It's nothing like what other parts of the country got, but with ice on the streets, our city shuts down. The kids did not complain.

I am officially registered for the Chicago marathon and I can say that with the cold weather we've had, I am hoping the winter does not come early to Chicago.