The Showdown Half Marathon (2016)

I recently ran my 2nd half marathon of the year, and it was the first race I was able to push myself and see how my running time has improved. Aside from the half Ironman, my last half marathon was Rock N Roll Dallas in March. So I was a little excited to run the Showdown half and check the reality of my four hour marathon goal.

As much as I hated the hills on this race last year, I decided to go ahead and do it again this year for several reasons:

  1. The race is well done. There are pacers, plenty of course support, and best of all – chocolate milk at the finish.
  2. I need the hills to prepare for the Dallas Marathon. It’s not a flat course, and the toughest hills fall after mile 13.
  3. My training partner was running it as well, so we rode to the race together. Races are more fun with friends.

The morning of the race, the weather was perfect. A cool front had moved in and it was around 51 degrees at the start. My perfect running weather falls in the range of 45 to 50 degrees. I couldn’t believe after all the heat and humidity, that we were actually getting a break on race day.

My friend and I talked about where to start the race. Do we start in front of the 2:00 pace group or with 1:55? I really had no idea what to expect out of myself, so she decided on 1:55 and we lined up behind the pacers. I hoped to be under 1:55, and secretly was hoping to be in the 1:53 range. After looking at my Garmin at the end of the first mile (8:37!) I wondered if I was screwing up my race too early. But the pace felt comfortable, great even, and I felt so light on my feet! We stayed with the pacers at least through mile 6. At times I felt like I was holding back. I had more. Close to mile 7, my friend pulled off to make a quick¬†stop and told me to go on ahead. She’s been battling foot problems (most likely plantar fasciitis) for the last few weeks, and after stopping it would take her a bit to get warmed up again. I know that feeling all too well.

Being in the second half of the race, I decided to pull ahead of the pace group. I think it’s possibly the most miles I’ve stayed with a pace group. I tend to stay away from packs in races. I ran¬†an 8:07 for mile 8 and still felt good for that point of the race. Spoiler alert: that was my fastest mile of the race. For the next few miles I kept my focus on staying ahead of the pace group and even effort through the hills. ¬†Mile 10 was a little tough, and my slowest mile, but I made up for it¬†in the last 5k. I crossed the finish with an official time of 1:53:04. It was my fastest half since November 2013 (when I was five seconds from my PR). Now that feels good!


There weren’t as many hills as I remembered, but I think my training is paying off as well. The course seemed a little different in the last few miles, but¬†it was still a challenge. I was so excited that¬†I was so close to running under 1:53. I feel like the four hour marathon is still a realistic goal, so I’ll keep pushing.¬†It was a good race, and I’m so glad I went. It totally energized my training.


Oh, and then there are these race perks:

Free race photos


and a Texas sized medal!




Running it Out

The past two weeks of marathon training have been a series of ups and downs, and pretty much mimics my life right now. It also proves that you’ve got to know when to cut yourself some slack on training when life is hectic or stressful.

There was one week of running through grief over losing our dog of 15 years. I didn’t know it was going to be that hard on me. Running is my time to think, to work through problems, to deal with emotions. The high humidity made it even worse. One run didn’t even make it to three miles. But I tend to deal with stress and/or grief in ¬†one of two ways: emotional eating & running. I guess it’s a good thing I have the marathon training in place if I’m going to eat, right?

When it came to my long run that Saturday, I was still dealing with the grief but also a lack of sleep. When I showed up to the humid Saturday morning group run, I had 9 miles done already because I needed to get home by a certain time. I spent the rest of my run trailing the others, and I was just feeling “off.” But when I looked at my pace periodically, it didn’t seem too bad. I decided to bail on the race pace miles and just get the long run done. I was pleased to see my splits were all under 10:00 pace except for the first one (which is usually the slowest anyway).


Hanging back and being okay with it


Later that¬†day, my husband and I started looking for a¬†puppy. The house was just too quiet! With two kids gone out of the house, it was just too much for us not to have a dog. We’ve always had one, and even though this is bad timing – hello sleep deprivation – we needed some joy in our home.

Welcome to the family Chloe!

Welcome to the family Chloe!

Last week’s training felt better. Temperatures cooled a bit, and the humidity dropped. There were a few runs that just felt great. I tried out some of my new team gear on Tuesday – National Chocolate Milk Day!


I felt good on my long run Saturday, even though my time wasn’t as low as what I hoped. But it was the first time I’d gotten close to 20. I have two other 20 plus mile runs planned this training cycle. I know my body, and I know that it needs those long runs to be¬†ready for Dallas!


This Saturday, I’ll be racing my first half marathon since Dallas Rock n Roll in March. It’s the Showdown Half in Fairview, and I know they’ll have chocolate milk at the finish! I’m not adjusting my training mileage much, so I’ll be running on tired legs.

It will be interesting to see what I can do on the hilly course.

Have a great week!







Family Traditions (SEF 5k)

Last week was a cutback week for me for marathon training, and I had some fun with it.

Even though the heat hasn’t let up much here, I still got out with the kids and ran to get ready for the 5k we were all doing on Saturday.

They wanted to go to the park to run and then play. Sure, why not?


Then on Thursday we ran a mile and a half. My 13 year old daughter would run ahead and walk until the 10 year old almost caught up to her. Then she’d take off again. Nice, friendly competition between siblings. Two weeks ago, she decided she¬†was ready to start training for the 5k, and she made good progress in a short amount of time.


Saturday morning, we were ready to race the Sherman Education Foundation 5k. This was my 7th time to run this race, and it wasn’t the first time for them either. I told them to make sure to run their own race the way they wanted to. Slow and steady, or run/walk – whatever is¬†best for them.


After I finished a very painful 3 miles (I have not been training at sub 8:00 pace!), I grabbed some water and a banana, and headed back out on the course to run my kids in. With a little over a half a mile to go, I saw my 10 year old and ran with him for a minute. He went on to finish, and I found his sister a few minutes back. My husband was out on the course with his bike, to encourage them. When my daughter askedhow far she had left to run, I told her about 3/4 of a mile. Her response, “Really? I’m almost done!” Probably not many kids who think 3/4 of a mile is a short distance. My kids have a different perspective on what “far” is.ūüôā

I’m proud of the way they ran the race. My youngest ran faster than he did at the 5k in August, and it wasn’t much cooler. The humidity was high – still. I ran almost the exact same time I ran the race in last year (when it was rainy and a little cooler). This year my time was 24:23. I was hoping to get back in the 23 minute range, but I guess if I don’t train for 5ks, I really can’t expect to bust out a time close to my PR. I did manage to win my age group though. I guess I can’t complain about my 5k time if I’m always training for marathons.img_8239

This is my favorite local race of the year¬†because of the traditions around it as a family. The traditions are changing a little with our family – two of my kids had to grow up and move off.ūüė¶ But after the race, we visited the¬†Arts Fest and spent some¬†time at the different booths. And of course we had funnel cake. That tradition hasn’t changed.

With the 5k on Saturday, I got up planning to meet my running buddy for a 12-13 mile long run Sunday morning. This is what I woke up to:


With the time constraints (and lightning factor), I reluctantly got on the treadmill. The storms weren’t¬†moving through anytime soon. By the time it started to clear up, I was up to 10 miles. I just finished off at 13, and that ended my cutback week. That was a rough run, but at least I had podcasts to listen to. Before Sunday, my longest treadmill run was 9 miles. I didn’t want to go that far on the treadmill, but I have goals that won’t be reached by skipping a long run. I learned for next time to put towels around the treadmill, because it was a gross sweaty mess. My body is just too efficient at cooling.


Partly bad lighting, but yes my face probably was that red.

That ended my first cutback week of Dallas Marathon training, and now I’ll start ramping up the miles while I wait for fall temperatures to show up.

Anybody else?





Setting the Right Goals for Me

As we came in from a run one evening last week, my ten year old asked me, “Your big goal is to qualify for Boston right?”

“Yes it is.”

“But you have some other goals too. Smaller goals like triathlon and Ironman. But the big one is Boston.”

Yes, smaller goals like Ironman. Ha ha!

But he’s still right.

In the past month, I’ve been thinking about the goals I have. There are the long-term goals and the ones I want to achieve right now. I’ve had to take a step back to make sure I’m working on what I want for me, and not a product of what’s great for someone else or what sounds like fun. It’s easy to get caught up in social media, or the hype around some races, medals, or challenges. Or even move on to the next big thing. Run a half marathon. Next up: marathon. Ran a marathon? Ultra. Half Ironman? Time to do a full Ironman. You know what I mean.

Not that it’s a bad thing.

But is it what you want?

Even though I finished a half Ironman this summer, the next step in my brain would be for me to do a full Ironman. But you know what? I’m not ready for that. I need a few more of those half distances to feel better about it, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized I didn’t have my heart there. Yet.

My heart is in running. It has been for the last six years. It has taken me to places I never would have imagined. I am part of a great community that supports each other whether you run a 6 minute mile or 12:00. And I love it!

So I’m keeping my focus on my passion.

My “right now” goals are working toward that sub 4 hour marathon, which will help me to reach the long term goal of qualifying for and running Boston. It will take some steps (years) to get there, but I have the heart to work on it.

Triathlon has been great for me. It keeps the running fire burning, and I am a better athlete. I will keep working at it, and I have fun doing it. It helps me to be a stronger runner, and gives me the break I need from mileage. I can see registering for a full Ironman one day.

But at this season of¬†my life, I’m going to stick with my goals. One September, I’ll be submitting my registration for the Boston Marathon.

Now, I’m headed out to the gym for a swim. It’s great cross training for marathon season!


Marathon Training (Weeks 1&2)

The first two weeks of training for the Dallas Marathon have gone pretty well. I’ve been pleased with my paces, mileage, and how my body has responded to the long runs. I like how my marathon training in the fall always starts right along with the school year.

My eyes have adjusted to the early morning runs:


So I appreciate the Saturday long runs when I get to see the sunrise.


I’m still running with my son, and my other daughter joined us last week to get ready for a local 5k next weekend.


I worked on my marathon pace during my first double-digit run (since my half Ironman) in two months.



I was happy with it.


Then last week, I was inspired by another runner in our group. She’s one of the ones I’ve been chasing for a few years, but I can’t catch her. She’s a few years older than me, and she ran Boston this year. About a month ago, she started chemo and she’s come out for most of the Saturday runs since. On this run, she was flying and I couldn’t keep up. I think she finally dialed it back for the last mile and ended up running around 8 miles. She wanted to get a picture of our little group to post on her care page. She inspires me as she goes through her treatments with¬†a great outlook and sense of humor, cracking up when someone said she¬†was taking the “run like Meb” thing a little too far.


It was a great group run, and I ended up with 13 miles total on Saturday.

I’m looking forward to the weeks ahead, and more miles with my kids. That’s the icing on the cake in my training.



Hustle for Health Reprise

Just over a week ago, I ran the United Way Hustle for Health 10k, and two of my kids did the 5k. This was my first standalone 10k since this race last year, but the outcome was much different this time around. I do this race every year, because it was my first 5k (2010) and that was the first time they held the race.¬†I love that it’s local, and have fun racing¬†with others from my running group and community. I did the 5k for a few years, then moved up to the 10k.

On race morning, we headed downtown and got ready to run. I have been running separately with my oldest daughter and my youngest son to prepare them for the race. They each had their own race goal. My daughter had been preparing for the physical fitness part of the Navy ROTC program, and my son wanted to run a faster 5k. I had to let him know the heat would slow him down some and not to get discouraged.

Photo Credit: Hustle for Health & Campaing Kickoff United Way of Grayson County (Facebook page)

Photo Credit: Hustle for Health & Campaign Kickoff United Way of Grayson County (Facebook page)

We started the race and went our separate ways.

What’s interesting about the 10k, is that it is basically two separate parts. A hilly, challenging first half, and the second half follows the 5k course which is flat. You can’t run it like a typical 10k, because you may blow all your energy in the hills on the first half and have nothing left to finish with. That was my mistake last year since I had not done much speed work with distance. This year I was prepared. I even ran some of the hills a few times in the weeks before to make sure I could handle the pace (which was easy because it’s in my neighborhood).

My friend and I were running together for most of the first half. I looked at the first two splits and tried not to get concerned (8:28, 8:16) but I had been running around 9 minute miles for training, and I felt good. There was cloud cover, it was humid, and low 80s, but no sun baking us. Coming into the 5k course (which is out and back), I started looking for my kids. I spotted my daughter first at a water stop where she doused me with the contents of her cup. I was starting to heat up, and that felt great. Not long after that, I saw my son. My husband was out on his bike, riding along the course encouraging him. He was smiling and I got a high five. Miles 4 and 5 were my slowest, but I picked up the pace to finish. The final mile was my second fastest.

I finished with an official time of 53:07, and though it wasn’t my¬†fastest, I feel like I’m in a good place going into marathon training. I was surprised to see that I was the second female finisher and the master’s winner. Small race perks.¬†My friend won the female grandmaster’s.

I posted this picture to our running group page, with tips about finding a good running partner.

1. Find someone who pushes and challenges you to be a better runner.

2. Make sure they’re in another age group.


The kids did well too. I had to talk to my son about how his place in the age group does not matter. He was two minutes off of what he ran in March. In his age group, there are 14 yr old cross country runners. I put the focus on him working to improve his race times, and not on what others are doing. My goal is to instill in him a joy of running and pushing himself to improve. One of my favorite things about running is that the responsibility is on the runner.

My daughter came away from the race better prepared for the Navy fitness requirements. She may have not liked running with me much, but I hope she’ll find an appreciation of me pushing her in training. I am proud of both of them.



The little one wanted a week off from running after the race, which worked out well because we moved his sister into the dorm last week.



Now our house is emptier, so I’m going to pour myself into my training to keep from emotional eating.

School started Monday¬†as did my marathon training. My son and I went out for a mile run on Tuesday evening. He was energized and ready to run. The new running clothes helped too. It’s a reminder of how little breaks and rewards can recharge us when we need it.


Wrapping up Tri Season

Finishing up where it all began…

Sunday, I did my sixth triathlon since I embarked on this crazy journey last summer. I decided this would be my last triathlon of the year so I can focus on marathon training. I talked my running friend into doing the same race we did last year as our first tri: Tri-Rock in Rockwall.

I haven’t spent a lot of time on the bike since Buffalo Springs, but at least once a week I rode either on the road or my trainer. I kept up with the swimming twice a week. Even though I’m not fast, I feel much better about my core after I swim. I’ve focused on more strength training following my swim workouts than I have in the past, and I’ve noticed a difference in my everyday life from it.

I was tired the day before the race: a five mile run with the group, one mile with my daughter, then a bunch of back to school shopping. Combining tax-free weekend with some birthday rewards from Kohl’s, JCP, and other stores paid off for us. By the end of the day, my legs were aching like I ran 15 miles. I wasn’t sure what to expect for the race, but the number one goal was to have fun, and I had my sights set on a PR.

My feelings on race morning were so different from last year. It was just the usual butterflies right before the start that quickly disappeared when it was my turn to jump in the pool.


My biggest change from last year – being able to swim all the way to the wall without stopping. I only had one person swim by me in the pool. What a great feeling! Last year it took me 10:27 to “swim” 300 meters. This year it was 8:02. There’s still plenty of room for improvement, but…progress.

On to the bike, I was ready to give it all I had. Apparently I forgot about the hills from last year. I was pushing hard though, and my legs were burning. In the last mile, I hear “Hi friend” and look over to see my friend ride past me. She had not ridden her bike once since our last tri in October, and had just pulled it out the day before. That was humbling. But in all fairness, she has more cycling experience than I do. Anyway, I still had my fastest bike split yet. Last year was 14.8 mph. This year was 15.9. So…progress.

We ran out of transition together, and my legs were feeling pretty good considering how hard I pushed on the bike. I didn’t worry about my pace too much, but tried to run steady. It was a two loop course (a little different from last year), and I worked on running each mile faster. I ended up with a 26:08 5k, and I was really excited about that. I can’t really compare the run to last year, because I’m pretty sure the course was short last year. This time I had my Garmin on, so I know the distance was right. But overall, I still set a PR in this race, and wasn’t at the bottom of the age group this time. Again…progress.


We both had a lot of fun. My friend placed in her age group, and got a pretty neat rock for her award. I wish I could find a way to work on my triathlon and running goals at the same time, but I’m going to call this race the end of my triathlon season.


My focus now shifts to marathon training which starts¬†on the 22nd. I know that in order to have a strong marathon, I need the mileage. I will¬†continue to cross-train¬†at least once a week either biking or swimming, so I won’t completely lose my progress.¬†¬†Then after the first of the year, I’ll decide what I want to work on next. I haven’t quite figured out a way to mesh up my big running goals and triathlon goals. Running holds my heart.

Not too shabby for a year's work

Not too shabby for a year’s work.