Archive for the ‘ running ’ Category

Renewing Run

This is tough. But I think it’s also needed. Some friends will want to read, others will pass on. This last year has been a roller coaster for me personally. I’ve had lots of people ask if things are ok, where have I been, etc. I don’t talk about it a lot because there’s still lots of stigma attached. I have been battling with clinical depression and anxiety for the better part of a year. There have been other major personal challenges that I care not to get into as well. I had no longer felt the drive or desire to work out and compete in triathlons; which in hindsight probably contributed to my condition. With the help of friends I was able to seek medical advice and have been working on managing things.

I don’t mean to write this as a “woe is me” post. I’ve had plenty of those moments over the past few months, and appreciate those who stood by my side and helped me through. It’s amazing how life is full of challenges, we know there will be troubles, yet it always seems to blind side us. Well at least me anyway, your mileage may vary. Someone posted today about how in order for star to be born, a nebula has to And it’s ok to crumble and collapse. It’s the sign of our birth, not our destruction. It got me thinking about where I currently am. Dissatisfied and out-of-order. I looked through some pictures of last year and remembered how things were and how I was in the best shape of my life. But then I let things go. Some voluntarily, others forced. But it’s time to move on. It’s time to let the collapse birth me into something new.

My commitment is to get back to where things were, and living a healthy lifestyle again. I know how to be there, but I forgot the path along the way. So I have to start somewhere, begin again. Breath, eat, walk. Live. I went for a run again this afternoon. It was sluggish, slow and sometimes painful. But it was the first step. I have to start again. I know the potential I have, and it’s far from where I currently am. Healthy living is not just a designation, but a journey. So I take these next steps knowing the pain, knowing it won’t be given to me freely. But I have to do it. It’s a challenge, and I will rise to the occasion.

Some friends have been beside me the entire journey and never left. Others have been pushed out inadvertently. It’s tough. It’s embarrassing. I don’t like the shell that I’ve slipped into. So I seek others to join me on the journey. Committing to living healthy lifestyles. Physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I hope to see you along the journey. The road traveled solo is lonely. So when you see the tubby guy trotting down the street, or riding his bike. Just give a friendly wave. And know he’s out there trying. It’s not just about running and cycling, but living. And I intend to do it all.

To pretend to be better than you are is a hypocrite. To try to be better than you are is to be a hero.


Houston Marathon Recap

It’s been quite the fall and winter for me. Both personally and with training. I opted to take a new job at the end of September. I was in need of more stability and less insanity. My family needed me to be present and not constantly traveling last-minute for work. With that change came a few added benefits. One major being that I no longer traveled for work. Which meant more time at home and with the family, and I would be able to finally capitalize on a consistent training schedule. I decided this would be the year that I would really tackle my key races. So I signed up with C4 Endurance Training. Coach Troy is a good friend and has tons of experience with marathons and triathlon, especially Iron distance so I thought it would be a great fit.

I had entered the lottery and signed up for the Houston Marathon backMarathonRightColumnLogo when it opened earlier in the year. I knew I wanted to target a sub 4 hour marathon to see where my fitness was. 4 hours sounds slow to the likes of some of my friends and uber athletes. But being my second full marathon it would be a great benchmark and a nice PR if I could hold it. Training went really well and the mileage started to add up quickly. It was nice having a coach to bounce questions off of and to truly not worry about what workout was next. I think there was only one workout I bombed and that was because I didn’t really understand what he wanted and didn’t ask. I used the Dallas 1/2 Marathon as a training run to test some of my fitness and goals for Houston. It was hard to hold back because I felt like I was in PR form for the 1/2 Marathon, but my ultimate goal for the off-season was the Marathon PR. The run went like clockwork with his plan. I continued to nail my long runs and even logged a total of 158 running miles in the month of December. Insane. And awesome because I was feeling good and knew I would nail my goals in Houston.

The wife and I opted to travel to Houston on Friday night and run the ABB 5k on Saturday (9) I would use this as a very slow shakeout run, and my wife Jillian would go on to set her own PR for the 5k! Weather was typical miserable Houston humidity. A cold front was moving in that night with rain, but the million dollar question was when would it hit? We went to the Expo, got some swag, picked up a couple of gifts and had a nice lunch. It was great since we were staying at the Hilton which was the host hotel. Oddly enough, the elite runners were staying on our floor and we bumped into quite a few of them. For dinner that night we met up with Matt and his family for some pasta dinner. This would be Matt’s first full marathon and another friend of ours was going to pace him through the day. Our biggest concern was getting to the start line and it not be pouring rain.

Fast forward through me setting out my gear options and going through my pre-race routines. It was going to be a great day. The cold front had come in. My pace band was carefully marked with my nutrition/hydration strategy. I walked over to the convention center to drop my dry clothes bag. I had hoped I would run into Matt & Ryan but with 20,000 people that didn’t happen. I make sure everything is set and I head out to the start line. Wow. It’s windy (15-20mph). And cold (40 degrees). And yup, there’s the rain. It was a miserable walk to the starting corrals. Once I got on my corral, I though to myself “at least I’m surrounded with people as crazy as I am, we’ll all be miserable together.” Fortunately the wait for the start wasn’t horribly long, but it was a long 15 minutes standing in the rain. The gun went off and it was game time! The first goal was to start slow, not succumb to the hype and excitement of everyone around me. There would be a time to go fast, and I would pass lots of them. The first few miles were pretty darn miserable in the cold rain. We crossed an overpass before mile 1 and the chill just went straight to the bones. But sure enough the miles started clicking off. I passed the 5k checkpoint pretty much right were coach wanted me to. Time to pick up the speed a bit. Legs felt fine and I was finally starting to warm up. As I reached for my salt tabs, I didn’t feel them. In a moment of panic I figured they had fallen off. I told myself not to worry, I don’t need them and I can just drink more Gatorade. A few minutes later I reached around the front of my SPIbelt I felt the dispenser. It had just moved! Whew. Back on track. I chucked my gloves off at mile 6 since they were soaking wet and didn’t do any good. Another checkpoint down at the 10k. Pretty close to the goal, now time to turn in the true race pace and see what happens.

Around mile 8 I finally took off my rain poncho as most of the rain had cleared and my shirt was wet from sweat (10) I stuck it in the back of my shorts fearing that more rain would come. The 15k and 20k checkpoints came and went without much ado. When I arrived at the 13.1 halfway checkpoint, I was pumped. My time was 1:59:16. As long as I could at least match what I did for the first half I would meet my goal. But the goals didn’t stop there. We wanted a negative split. Prior to training with coach Troy a negative split was something like a unicorn to me. I’m sure they exist somewhere, but not around me. With his guidance and my prep work it was time to make it happen. Miles 15-18 were not so much fun. I was able to hold the faster pace but was suffering a bit as we were traveling into the wind some. I kept pressing on longing to see the 20 mile marker. Some say a marathon is two races- 20 miles and then trying to hold on to another 10k (6.2 miles). This can be fairly true as the mind starts to play some tricks on you. The plan was to open up a quick steady pace, then empty the tank the last few miles. As I picked up the pace a little more, I quickly realized that was going to be about it. There would be no insanely fast last few miles it would have to be just steady. I start to notice that I’m passing quite a few runners. Just like Troy said I would. This was crazy awesome. I was hurting and ready to be done and couldn’t believe I was actually pulling it off. Where so many runners had gone out to fast or emptied the tank early, I was making up time. Every second I went faster it was more time off that I would beat my goal by. I start to notice a bit of uncomfortable rubbing in my shorts, uh oh. For anyone who’s ever run you know that once you feel chaffing it’s too late. I apply a bit of lube on the run and know I’ll have to pay for that later.

As we reenter the downtown area my GPS goes haywire and drops the signal. I had been warned about that by others photo (11)who have run downtown Houston. I didn’t worry knowing that I just had to friggin’ run. I wouldn’t know what pace I was holding and it didn’t matter at that point. I give it everything I’ve got and round the corner near the hotel. One last turn and I was home. I could hear the cheers from TONS of people who had braved the cold rain to support their insane runners. I take one last glance at my watch and know that I’m going to come in at 3:55. Amazing feeling! I was so relieved! It’s hard to describe, but I felt justified for lack of a better word. I ‘felt’ like I had it in me but I wasn’t sure I could finally pull it out. I got my finishers medal, tshirt and beer mug and head off to get my dry bag. I can’t remember doing that in a race before but I felt like a million dollars after changing into dry clothes. I highly recommend it! I go find Jillian who gives me a huge hug and was almost excited as I was that I hit such a good time! With the excellent weather we decide to forego any finish line festivities and go get cleaned up in our warm hotel room. A quick stop for some fajitas on the way home and I was set. Time to recover.

By the numbers-

Finish time- 3:55:42
13.1 first half- 1:59:16 (negative split)
Overall place- 1,722 of 6,521
Average pace- 8:59/mile (6.6 mph)
During the final 4.5 miles I passed 269 runners, only 2 passed me.

Product Review: VitalSox Compression Socks

After doing some extensive reading and talking to other athletes for a while, I’ve been in search of a good pair of compression socks. The problem? Most run for $50-60. As good as the technology sounds, I just couldn’t bring myself to shell out that much cash for a pair of socks. So I had been content (not really) with my lack of recovery apparel until I was in Rogue Running a couple of months ago. I wasn’t very hopeful and was just meandering around the store when I went to the sock area. I noticed the VitalSox compression socks. The price tag lured me in, and I asked one of the associates if this brand had been very popular. He affirmed, and I was quickly on my way having an affordable pair of compression socks. I have run a ‘battery’ of my own tests mostly involving me slipping them on post race, or post big run/ride. I’ve even worn them overnight after a couple of major events. My thoughts? Awesome. No really, they’re awesome. Now just how to figure out how to get the wife & kids to not make funny faces when I wear ‘old man’ socks around!

Going Rogue

Yeah that’s right. I’ve gone Rogue. Rogue Running that is. An opportunity presented itself to me a couple of months back. Rogue Running was looking for a few good people to become program ambassadors. So why not I thought? To become a better athlete I’ve learned you should surround yourself with better athletes. I first became familiar with the quaint east 5th street running store during some local races this past year. I began to notice an awful lot of black shirts with a spiffy little crown logo. The more I learned about Rogue the more I liked. It’s an all in one package with these folks. The store itself is great, and fully staffed with knowledgable runners. They host awesome partys…errr I mean running events. And the training programs are second to none.

Some of the programs that have just started or are about to start include Basic Marathon/Half Marathon Training as well as an Online Training Program. These starting now are geared towards the fall marathon season. For my tri geek friends, there is also a Triathlon Training Program. Rogues go from just ‘finishing’ races to a season full of PR’s. Rogue can move you from the couch to pavement in ways you never imagined. You can leave behind the thoughts of “I’ll never be able to be a runner” because with Rogue everyone IS a runner. So if you’re looking to get started running; kick-start your running; learn from some masters; run with some great people; get some additional motivation… these programs are for you. As an added bonus by mentioning me (Andrew Collins) and using the special code ‘Amb0610’ you can receive $50 off. But hurry as this will expire soon and the programs are starting. So what are you waiting for? Get running, with Rogue.

Seeya on the pavement or trails.

Lake Pflugerville Tri Recap

So after the Rookie Tri, I thought I might be getting into the swing of things with Triathlons. So my buddies Matt, Luke and I registered for the Lake Pflugerville Tri. This was a no miss event for me seeing as the lake is only 8.5 miles from my house and the area where we do most of our usual training. The field was limited to 500 participants which was about half the size of the Rookie. The last month of training has been pretty solid, including some PR times on the swim and bike route for the race. I was also able to capitalize on the early daylight hours while in California for work last week. (more on that later)

We planned to meet at Matt’s house and ride the 1.5 miles from there to avoid traffic issues. BRILLIANT. It was an easy was to get in and a nice little warm up. We arrived just as the sun was beginning to rise and were able to pick some pretty descent spots in transition. My wife arrived with the kiddos in tow just before the pre-race meeting (this was father’s day afterall) and it was great to have them out there cheering me on.

The 8-year-old daughter of a friend who just returned from IronMan Kansas 70.3 sang the national anthem and the open division was off. The swim for me was pretty good. There was definitely much more bumping and kicking than I had experienced in the Rookie Tri, but that’s all part of the game. I tried to stick to my pace, sight the buoy’s and get as much oxygen as possible. All of these goals were met, and I in fact hit the first buoy square on. I made it to the beach and bolted to transition. I wanted to make sure and not ‘dottle’ my way to the bike. I’m pretty sure this may have been where my heart rate was indeed the highest through the race.

I made it to my bike, got my shoes on, helmet on and was ready to go. The only issue? I continued running past the mount line which was… silly. After a disappointing showing on my bike for the Rookie, I was out for revenge. I know the course by heart and was ready to go. I put my head down, eyes up and hands in the drops and I was gone. I began my assault and starting passing riders pretty quick. Once we turned past the Cele store, I knew the fun was about to begin, a series of rollers over a 4-5 mile stretch. And it was. Fun. Because I trained on it. And passed people on it. And owned. It. Average speed coming off was over 19mph. I was on target. The plan was to be able to turn up the pace after the rollers. I had a slight pause trying to get down some Hammer Gel before the final leg of the bike, but kept plugging away. The last leg of the bike was a little tougher for me than I had anticipated. It’s normally where the gas is able to be turned up quite a bit, but I was just maintaining. Before we turned I heard my buddy Matt yell behind me “come on Andrew, let’s do it.” Arg. Matt had finally caught up to me, which meant he was smoking his time. We stayed fairly close through the end of the bike route, but I geared down to spin up before the run.

In transition, I was really starting to not feel so hot. Well, yes hot, but not in the good way. I slipped into my running shoes, grabbed my visor & bib number and headed out. I could see the wife and kids as well as our friends at the top of the hill cheering. I managed to make it up the hill in good form, then hit the trail. Ouch. The run was going to hurt. Again. The first mile was ok. At least I thought the water station was at mile one, but it wasn’t! If you’ve never run around Lake Pflugerville, it’s a great trail. Minus the 2nd mile section on the backside of the lake that somehow doesn’t get any air movement, and is always a sweltering furnace of pain. And I mean it. The comfort I took was knowing that I wasn’t the only one struggling on that side. There were many quality athletes that felt the pain. After hitting the mile 2 marker, I began my mental countdown. I didn’t want to look at my watch, but felt pretty sure I was on target for my goal of 1:30 finishing time. But I didn’t want to ruin it. So I kept plugging along, and only had the wind knocked out of my sail from a few amazing female athletes who coasted by me. I finally make it to the finish, arms in the air, eyes on the clock at 1:30, then over to my amazing wife and kids! It was done, I had finished it, and I felt…ok. I layed on the grass with a cold towel, regained composure, drank my recoverite and began to bask in the glow of another successful triathlon completed. It was a great day. My friend Matt had smoked his swim and bike. Luke also threw down a great overall time. So yeah this triathlon thing? Totally addicting! And Fun.

By the numbers-
Overall time- 1:30:24
500m swim- 14:16
T1- 2:28
14m bike- 43:30
T2- 1:16
3m run- 28:53

Metro Dash Austin Recap

Sometimes we get ourselves into trouble. Well maybe not trouble per se, but let ourselves be opened up to punishment. Last week while watching my twitter feed over lunch I saw Austin Fit Magazine launch a contest for an entry into Metro Dash Austin. Being the savvy internets user I am, I found the answer to their question and won! Well crap, that meant I had to actually go and do the Metro Dash. What is the Metro Dash you ask? According to their website it’s the ultimate test of athleticism. Competitors run city streets in search of scattered physical challenge points, power through intense interval workouts, and conquer “The Gauntlet,” an extreme urban obstacle course.

Knowing that a lot of the challenges were Tabata drills, I quickly ramped up my training midweek so I wouldn’t be embarrassed. Then I found this video on youtube and could feel my thighs screaming in agony… what the heck was I getting into? Oh and the course itself is pretty straightforward. They give you 5 points around the city at which the challenges are located, you decide the route you RUN and the order you complete them. Then make it back. Did I mention they had a Navy Seal design this stuff? Probably the most odd component to this race was its high noon start time. In Austin. Texas. In May.

I picked up my packet Friday evening at Lululemon Athletica which gave me time to plan out my route that I would run. On Saturday I arrive at Zilker Park with plenty of time to warm up and get my bearings before the race started. I chatted with a few other runners, some of who were first timers like me and others who had done this race before. Five minutes till the start they announced the final challenge location. Fortunately for my planning it worked out great. The horn sounded and we were off. It was the craziest looking race start I’ve ever seen. A swarm of people heading over to the right down Barton Springs, and another swarm to the left down to the trails. My route was down the trails over to the challenge point at auditorium shores. I arrived to a small group already working on the challenge which was Tabata Star Jumpers. Ouch. I finished, grabbed a cup of water and jogged down the trail to cross over on the 1st street bridge. I started to head up Guadalupe St. when I saw another competitor running the other way. I signaled to him to follow me. He got turned around and thought Guadalupe was another block up. We ran up to 9th where another challenge point awaited us at Wooldridge park, Tabata Push-ups. I started strong, and although there are no pictures to prove it, had to finish in good form, but doing them on my knees. I grabbed some water, ate some sport beans and cruised DOWN 9th to Duncan park where the Gauntlet was punishing competitors. Unlike the other challenges, it was a series of pain. Rope swings, tractor tire flips, slam ball, TRX rows, sled drag, kettle bell swings, box jumps, bear crawl and finally a wall jump. There were several moments where I literally sat on the ground wondering if I would be able to finish. I finally completed and was on my way, slowly. Up on Lamar I headed to Pease Park on 15th. I caught up to a couple of guys and we steadily jogged, walked our way up still recovering from the Gauntlet. At Pease Park our challenge was Tabata Sit-ups. This was one of the few challenges I felt prepared for, minus sitting in the Austin sun at 1pm in the afternoon. We could feel the sun baking our skin as we moved through the eight stations. After finishing there I knew I was on the home stretch. I started running back down Lamar to 6th street where the final challenge was at Lululemon. And yes, it was the Tabata Squats. I was glad the squats were last for me, but they still hurt. I finally finished, hydrated and continued down Lamar. I made it across Lamar and back to the trails on which I started. It was a very slow last mile. When I was walking I couldn’t get my resting heart rate below 160. I exited the trail at Zilker and worked my way towards the finish. I had been watching my time and knew I was close to 1:45. As I was running up the hill I saw the clock and began to sprint and crossed the finish line right on 1:45. Then I wanted to pass out. I found the water jug and a banana quickly. I stumbled over to the recovery area where some blessed souls were operating massage tables. After a few minutes I felt human again and could bask in the fact I finished the race, and with a decent time. I mulled around with the other finishers for a while and ate a Clif Bar. After the final results were posted I placed 6th in the individual ranks and added with the team times, 15th overall. This was a great event and I highly recommend it to my athletic friends when they return to Austin next year. They’ll be in Houston this fall and I’m contemplating going through the pain with a friend 🙂

You can check out some of the pictures from the event here.

the Rookie Tri Recap


I spent as my wife would refer ‘all day’ Saturday in race prep mode. It was more of laying everything out; coming back later & working on transition settings; going and getting a transition backpack from VO2TC; checking my list; packing everything; etc. It wasn’t REALLY all day. I think. I made a good dinner at home that night and we retired early. Then my alarm went off at 4:30am and I got up and did what triathletes do, I ate and got ready. The race was held at the Texas Ski Ranch in New Braunfels which is about an hour away. We rolled down the highway, stopped at two Starbucks which were still closed and settled on McDonalds for a coffee fix. My wife took joy in passing all the tri-geeks with 10k bikes on the highway. There were smatterings of rain on the highway and a little drizzle when we got there. I’m sure there were about 1,000 extra prayers to avoid rain at that moment. I get everything set and we walk towards transition area in which I got my body markings on the way. I find a good spot on a rack about 4 rows back and close to the edge. I had to laugh because several of the guys around me had laid out full beach blankets for transition. LAME. I pull out my hand towel, lay it next to my bike and set out my running shoes, bike shoes, helmet, visor and running number. I ended up having to put my bag on the other side of my bike due to the yahoos with huge blankets. I had originally wanted to do a warm up swim and a little jog but after getting my bearings, checking the transition area, traffic flow and using the porta-potty once more there simply wasn’t time. They made an announcement that the water temp was 75 degrees. For being such a short race there were still several folks who opted for a wetsuit. I met up with Luke & Matt and we walked towards the start for the pre-race meeting. They make a few announcements while we stick our feet in the water. About that time we notice a huge dude with about 2% body fat and a tattoo on his left shoulder blade with the five little rings. Yup, that’s right an Olympian was about to swim with us, Brendan Hansen! He would go on to crush the swim in 4:10, yeah that was first. After the national anthem was sung it was show time.


The swim was pretty straight forward basically a U shaped 300m course at the Ski Ranch tank. The water was pretty calm and temperature was nice. It was definitely a spectacle to see the open division take off with an Olympian at the front. My was up next. We enter the water and since nobody else was I made my way towards the front. One of the best pieces of advice I got only a couple of days ago was to swim towards the inside. Most everyone takes the advice of going to the outside and it gets crowded. As soon as we go off, I join the crowd but quickly step back to the side and let the rush past. I was able to avoid most of the kicking and chaos this way. I got into my stroke almost immediately. My first sightings were off, but then I was able to follow the buoys great and even ran into one. I was amazed that there were swimmers hanging onto the ramps we past at about a 1/3 in. Just before I got to the turn I heard the announcer lead off the next wave. I was feeling really good because this was the pace I wanted. I wasn’t killing myself and was doing the stroke I trained. About half way down the home stretch I notice some different colored swim caps start to pass from the other wave, those guys were smoking. One thing I’ve notice with swimming is the end always seems so far. I kept sighting the finish, but it took a while to get there. I kept swimming once we got close to shore because the alga on the bottom was NASTY and deep. There were plenty of helpers to grab everyone out of the water and into transition it was… and a long run to the bikes.


I thought I might never make it to my bike rack. I always get pretty dizzy coming out of the water. In hind sight I should have sat on the ground to put on my helmet and shoes. Instead I stagger and almost trip several times. I slipped into my bike shoes but don’t fasten the tops. I grab my bike and run out of transition. One grave mistake that I would regret later was not strapping my shoes on yet. I was able to successfully tighten my right shoes, but I could never get my left shoe closed. I tried at least 10 times on the bike, but couldn’t feed Velcro through the eyelet. I slowed down tried, failed, repeat. Unfortunately I really let this error get in my mental game. I finally decided I could do without. The route was an 11.1 rectangle that started on the service road of I-35. I was never able to come pre-ride the route so it was all new to me. I heard a few riders concerned about a couple of the hills especially at the start. Fortunately for me I like to ride with Austin Cycle Camp. However it pains my legs, it’s always worth it when I come to an even like this. The hills were cake, and that’s where I made up the most ground. I passed up many riders going uphill after they bombed the downhill. The only riders that consistently passed me were the elite riding TT bikes with aero wheels. Whatever. I wasn’t riding as hard as I wanted too, and kept slipping into a comfortable pace rather than a Time Trial pace. I was conscious about not trying to kill it and leave some energy for the run. The final leg coming in was a nice downhill descent back to the Ski Ranch with lots of bystanders cheering. I hop off of my bike to run it into transition and could already feel my legs being heavy.


I make it into transition, rack my bike pull off my helmet & shoes and slip right into my running shoes while grabbing my visor and bib number. I begin my ‘trot’ out of transition onto the run course. The legs were definitely heavy. I kept telling myself not to overdo it at the beginning. It was cool at the start of the run because all of the people cheering you on and they had a drum line playing some tunes. The run course was an out and back with a final lap around the lake to the finish line. I’m going to just say I’m not a fan of out and back on run, because you get to see the ridiculously fast people running the other way. Regardless I carried on with my slow pace. I knew that I could run faster in training, but just couldn’t muster the strength to pull that pace. When I finally rounded the corner to hit the home stretch around the lake I turned it up and came across the finish line strong.


Crossing the finish line I wanted to pass out lying on the ground. Which in my book was a goal. I didn’t want to cross and feel like I could have given a little more but didn’t. Not long after I crossed I was joined by my friends Matt & Luke. It was an awesome feeling that we all finished the event with respectable times. We were greeted at the finish with lots of cheering by spouses and bystanders, recovery drinks, food, etc. The best part may have been when we found the Advanced Rehab tent offering ART and massages. My IT band/quads were abnormally sore, so I immediately felt the benefits of these great people. All in all it was a fabulous event put on by Jack & Adams and High Five Events. It was so cool seeing folks from Monkey Wipes, and Red Licorice Events supporting as well. The more events I do the more faces I recognize and the more fun I have! Next up, the Lake Pflugerville Triathlon on June 20th.

By the Numbers:

Chip Time: 01:10:23
300m swim: 10:28
T1: 2:10
11.1m bike: 37:28
T2: 1:30
2m run: 18:45

see more photos here