Sunday was my first official race with Team Chocolate Milk at the Dallas Rock ‘n Roll half marathon, and what a great experience! This was my third year to run this race, but the course this year was different. I remember seeing the Got Chocolate Milk booth at the expo last year and wanting to be a part of it.
I started my weekend on Saturday at the expo. I met some of the other members of the team.
I also bought a new pair of compression socks, and we got some wireless headphones to share. These were big splurges for me. I usually don’t run with music since I run early, and I want to hear noises around me in the dark. But I’ve noticed during races, my energy picks up with music along the course. So my husband will use these while he bikes, and I’ll use them for daylight runs and races.
Before the race:
The weather was great for running Sunday morning. Low 50s and I was in shorts. I headed to the VIP lounge, which was indoors. This was a new experience for me. There was food, VIP gear check, and restrooms (yay – no porta-potty). I met up with other team members there and we talked about goals, past races, and upcoming ones.
I made my way to the start corral, and quickly found several runners from our local group. We lined up behind this sign hoping for a glimpse and the chance to run with her.
Deena Kastor was pacing a 1:45:00 group, and yes I am fully aware it is out of my range but I thought it would be fun to start there. I even managed to get this high quality photograph before she moved out of the corral.
Somehow, they ended up starting behind us.
My fast running group friend – I call her my rabbit – kept trying to tell me I could run a 1:48. She would get me there. I had no doubt that she could, but I have been doubting myself so much lately trying to find my speed that went missing since November. She said she would pull me along and I would PR. My PR was at this race last year (1:50:42). I told her I would be happy to just run under 2 hours.
The 13.1 miles:
I wasn’t sure what to expect with the course change, but I started off trailing my friend for the first mile – which I ran in 8:24. She stayed just ahead of me and I was amazed that I could hang on. By mile 3.5, I heard the sound of feet and chatter. I bet that’s Deena’s group, I thought. They caught me and I hung on for almost a quarter of a mile, before they moved ahead. But hey, I ran with an Olympian!
I saw my husband at mile 4, waved, and pointed to my Garmin. “Too fast!” I yelled. He smiled.
By the end of mile 5, my average pace was 8:06 and I hit my lap button. I had lost sight of my fast friend but I kept pushing. Miles 6-10 were tougher. My legs started to feel like jell-o after the climb to the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. I don’t know if it was the hills or the speed that was doing it, but the average pace for those miles was 8:35. I did some amazingly quick math in my head to realize I was still on PR pace. Then mile 10, a wave of nausea came over me and I took a quick walk break. I was low on Nuun in my handheld and I was feeling the humidity. I worked through the next mile with a 9:26 pace. Mile 12 was a little better at 8:49. I would get nauseous, walk, then run hard, and repeat. The last mile ended up being 9:26 but I finished strong. The crowds along the last 1/2 mile were great and there were no more hills.
The best thing about the race, and honestly it kept me motivated through the last three miles, was knowing there would be chocolate milk at the finish. I have seen overall improvements since I began using chocolate milk for recovery after long and/or hard efforts. The carb to protein ratio is perfect for me and it’s easy on my stomach post race. You can find more info on the science behind it here. Also, chocolate. Need I say more?
Even though I struggled for the last 5k and my time was 3 min. slower than last year, I am still happy with my performance. I ran faster for a longer distance than I have been able to since the Blue Red Run in November. I fought against the demons that told me I was getting older, heavier, and slower. My speed is still there; I just needed someone to help me find it.
After the race, I found my husband then headed to the VIP area to get my bag and some more food. 🙂 There was a buffet with hot food, and even more chocolate milk. I will say this – Rock ‘n Roll races do it right! Two days later, my quads were still feeling the effort and the hills, and it hurts so good to know I ran hard.
I am so grateful to have had this experience, and I can’t wait for the chance to again represent Team Chocolate Milk!