Dallas Marathon 50th Anniversary

On December 12th, I ran the Dallas Marathon. This was pretty close to the date of my 10th anniversary of my first marathon (Dallas 2011) as well as the 50th anniversary for the race itself. Dallas went big for their celebration, and I went big myself with a return to the weekend series: 5k on Saturday, marathon on Sunday. I had not run the marathon in Dallas since my struggle in 2017, so some of my goals were to run better than I did that year, and walk away from the finish line happy with my result. I also wanted to crush mile 14 – more on that later.

On Saturday, my friend and I headed to Dallas for the 5k, and we cruised through the race. The weather was chilly, but not unbearable, and before we knew it we had finished three miles. It’s funny how fast 3 miles fly by when you’ve been marathon training. We ran a tad faster than I thought we would for a marathon shakeout, but it was fun.

The buildings messed with the GPS, but it was a good run.

Then we headed to the expo to pick up our packets. This expo was much better than RNR San Antonio. One of my favorite areas is where they have the banners for each year of the race. I found where I started my history with Dallas (first half 2010) and reminisced down the row. It was interesting to see the temperature, number of runners, shirt and medal designs and how those have changed.

All my Dallas races 2010-2019

Race day was forecasted to be a cold start, and I was super excited. The expected high would be in the 60s so I hoped I wouldn’t get too hot, especially since this race starts pretty late in the morning. I tend to heat up faster now than when I first started running. Regardless of the sub 40 degree start, I made my choice of race outfit and stuck to it. I wore a disposable jacket to the start, and I save my previous races’ heat sheets exclusively to keep warm at race starts. I made a definite fashion statement getting to the start corral, but at least I was warm.

Always save your heat sheets!

We also met up with some of our Texoma Runner friends and shared good luck vibes with each other before moving into our corrals.

Texoma Runners take on Dallas

The start was exciting! Dallas has done an excellent job of improving the runner’s experience over the past several years, and with BMW as the title sponsor, they have really kicked it up. The race now starts by City Hall, and there is a jumbo screen with a video countdown as each corral moves up to start. I was a little emotional watching the video, but also excited and ready to run. I remember feeling so happy before the race started, not really nervous. Once we were out on the course, I kept my disposable jacket on for the first mile and then tossed it. I was ready to roll, but I held back and paid close attention to my mile splits. I was not going to fall apart this year from going out too fast!

I kept an eye on my splits but also tried to take it all in. The race experience, the feeling of being out there again, running an official (not virtual) marathon. I was running with gratitude, but at the same time… respect for the distance.

At mile 14, my friend took my picture. I had previously shared with just a few of my friends how mile 14 had brought me down at my last few marathons and 20 milers. It seemed to be a mental block at this point. But when I crossed this mile marker, I felt great – smiling and full of energy. I also got a text from my friend who was tracking all of us. “Mile 14! You can do this!”

Once I was halfway around the lake, I began to pick up the pace. I was feeling good and following my race plan. I brought my pace under 10 minutes and was passing people around the lake. At the mile 20 marker, which is at the bottom of a big hill, I walked and took in my chews. This was the plan I settled on weeks before. I knew the hill would defeat me if I let it, so I had planned to walk it and that as an opportunity to refuel. At the top of the hill, I stuck to the plan and started running again. I was surprised at how quickly I was able to recover my pace again, and my legs still felt good. I just needed a little time for my lungs to recover from the climb.

The great thing about the current Dallas course (half and marathon) is that the last 4 miles are a gentle drop in elevation. I knew that once I made it to mile 22, I could hang on and grind it out to finish. At mile 23, I was passing people. Well this is new, I thought. But then I started to argue with myself, because I really did want to stop and walk. But I had no reason to. So I would slow a little, and then pick up the pace. My legs were tired, but I wasn’t in pain. (Strength work matters.) I didn’t feel sick, and my heart rate was fine for this stage of the game. So I told my brain to shut up. My pace was still hanging on. I looked at my Garmin once in the final mile, and didn’t do that again. It’s funny how you feel like you’re flying, look at your pace, and nope. Not flying. Pedal to the ground, just get it done.

I crossed the finish in 4:32 and was so happy I almost started crying! It was not one of my fastest marathons, but it was the way I ran and how I felt – that was what mattered. And after a string of marathons pushing the 5 hour mark, it was a turn in the right direction.

Always putting in the extra mileage…

Then of course, we celebrated our marathon finishes around the after party.

It was a good day.

Marathon Training, a 5k, and the Paris Pair

Marathon training for Dallas has been rolling along, and the long runs are getting longer. But that didn’t stop me from finding a way to participate in a few races the past couple of weeks.

First up was my favorite local 5k – the Sherman Arts Fest run. I’ve run this race every year since I started running in 2010 (virtual for 2020) and it was somewhat of a family tradition. All four kids ran the mile fun run the first year, and the picture of them with their ribbons is one of my favorites.

Their first fun run!

Every year, except for the virtual 2020 and this year, I’ve had at least one child participate in some way. Mostly, it was my youngest son who ran the 5k several of the years. I would run my race and go back to run him in to finish. So I was kind of sad that it was just me running, but at least my husband came to watch and I had my running friends to hang out with too. My friend and I are training together for Dallas, and we had a long run of 16 miles planned for the weekend. We decided to knock out most of it, and finish up with the 5k. When I lined up at the start, I had 11.5 miles in my legs already for the morning, and I told myself I could not get mad about my performance. The marathon is the end goal, not a fast 5k. Of course I went out too fast, and almost tripped over several middle school cross country kids in the first mile. I finally had to school them on race etiquette. If you’re going to stop and walk, move over and look behind you first. I’m too old to be tripping over kids. My first mile was around 8:15. Not bad.

In the second mile, I started to feel all of the earlier miles in my legs. My pace was around 8:30. I tried to pick up the pace to finish strong for the last mile, but I was hot and my legs were tired. I remembered how hard 5ks are (especially when you go out too fast)! My 3rd mile was around 8:45. As I crossed the finish in one of my slower times for this race, I reminded myself I could not get mad. My finish time was under 27 minutes (what I thought I could run) and I was okay with that. After a short run for a cooldown, I was at 16 miles for the day. Oh, and an age group win to boot. 🙂

The following weekend, I ran the 25k at the Paris Pair. It was a good long run distance, and a chance to break up the monotony of long runs. New locations are good for that – and a medal with snacks are a nice bonus.

The weather that morning was actually cool compared to what we have been running in. Under 60 degrees at the start, and a shady course. It was an out and back course, so my plan was to run steady and comfortable on the way out, and gradually pick up the pace on the way back. I wanted to finish with the last couple of miles as my fastest. I hoped to average at least under a 10 minute pace per mile. It’s hard to know what my fitness is when all the long runs have been slower and in warm, humid weather.

A few miles into the race, we were under a 10 minute pace, but I told my friend it felt too fast. She reminded me that it usually takes 4-5 miles before we start feeling good on a run. Marathon training does that.

At the turnaround at 7.75 miles, I made a mental note of the overall time on my Garmin. (1:17:xx) I started to pick it up a little bit, but mostly stayed steady until the aid station around mile 10. I filled up my bottle here, and it was the only mile over a 10 minute pace. At mile 11, I took my caffeinated gel to get through the last few miles. I started to pick up the pace, because I was feeling good. It did start to heat up some, but it wasn’t until the last couple of miles that I started to notice the warmer weather. At the 10k turnaround, I had exactly 5k to go, so I started picking it up. My final mile splits were: 9:24, 9:21, 9:01, and 8:57 (.5 mile).

Yes! That’s exactly what I wanted to do, and I ended up coming in way under my expected goal pace of 10 min, and had a finish time around 2:30 with an average pace of 9:39. The best part was that it gave me a mental win I needed going into the heavier part of marathon training. It’s been years since I ran a strong race that was longer than a half marathon. It’s not as fast as I could run in the past, but it was what I needed for where I am now.

The race organization was top notch. We got to start and finish under the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Texas, and I got to spend some time with friends there too. I would definitely do this race again, especially as the project for the NETT continues to make progress.

As of today, I don’t have any other races planned until Dallas Marathon weekend. But actually, it’s really not that far away.

It’s Almost Half Time

I took a little break after Danman.

I needed a little time away from the long distances, and the back to back weekend long runs. I had plenty of time for a break, and to still build up for my next half marathon (RNR San Diego). I also needed time to uncover the speed in my legs again. I couldn’t keep it sharp with all the fatigue from the buildup for Danman. Planned breaks are good. Forced breaks are not.

I did different things. I tried a new class at the gym, and it involved burpees and lots of other stuff out of my comfort zone. I also got back to the pool some. I worked with my kettle bell more.

Then I signed up for a local 5k on a whim with our local running group, so there wasn’t much time left to sharpen my speed. You know, there’s only one way to find out your current 5k fitness – and that’s by racing a 5k.

With literally no recent speed work to judge goal pace from, I thought I maybe could run under 25. I ran a few miles before the race, to get my slower miles out of the way. (It takes me a while to warm up.) My goal was to keep my eyes on the back of one of my fast friends, not look at my watch, and just hang on.

My lack of speed work was evident. Fast friend was gone when the gun went off, and I didn’t see her again until I finished! I mostly only looked at my Garmin when the mile splits beeped.

Splits and thoughts:

Mile 1: not too bad, just hang on to this pace (8:13)

Mile 2: Oh goodness, I can’t breathe (8:25)

Mile 3: Just keep it faster than mile 2 (8:22)

My official time was 25:59 which was slower than I wanted, but it gave me a baseline to work from for this summer. It was also enough for an age group win, and that’s not something I take for granted.

Beat the Heat 5k

The next race I had scheduled (to gauge my goal half marathon pace), was the Disco Run 15k. 2 weeks before the half, it would be a good chance to see how my planned pace would hold up over 9 miles. So I talked my friend into it, and we headed down to Dallas last Sunday morning. After I drank my Ucan, we went to the start area to wait. The humidity wasn’t too bad, but it looked like it might get warm. There was a breeze so that helped. Then they announced that the 15k course was flooded, so everyone in the 15k would get to run the 10k. My friend and I looked at each other with disappointment. My first thought was, “Dang, now I have to run faster!” Most people would probably be excited to run less than they signed up for. Not us, we’re weird. We ran about a mile to warm up, and then I was ready to go.

Before the sweat-fest

I made a mental note to try to come in under 55 minutes. I’m really not even sure where I came up with that number. It sounded like a good plan to be under 9:00 pace.

Then we were off!

The first thing I noted was that the course was gravel, and not smooth. There were some larger rocks on the path, and they were worse in the middle. It took a little while for the crowd to thin enough for me to realize this, and I moved over to the side. This slowed me down some, although probably not as much as I’d like to think it did. I was careful though, because I could feel my foot roll across some of the larger rocks and I didn’t want to risk rolling an ankle. My first mile was 8:40. Ok, hang on to that, I thought.

The sun was out and it was warming up. The course was an out and back, so when we made the turnaround just after mile 3, I knew what was coming. By mile 4, I was completely okay with running 10k and not 15. The rocks were doing my legs in, and they were aching. I walked up the steep hill in mile 5, took a deep breath, and then sucked it up to pick up speed again. That mile was my slowest. I made my way around the 5k walkers just past their turnaround, so I did more weaving from the middle of the path to the side again. But it wasn’t too crowded. When I could see the finish area, I picked it up as much as I could to finish strong. When I finished, I remembered how hard it is to run in the heat. This was my first hot race of the year.

We hung around for awards, because the results for age groups weren’t posted. I didn’t think I placed, because there were lots of ladies ahead of me. It’s a good thing we waited, because I ended up 2nd in my age group, and my friend won hers!

I’ve never actually stood on a podium, so that was fun. My official time was 54:52, meaning I met my last minute sub 55 plan.

Watermelon and pancakes at the finish were amazing, because it was a hot morning! They also had a costume contest and a great band. It was a fun themed race!

I’m pleased with both race efforts. I believe I got the best out of myself on both days – no matter what the time was on the clock. This is my current fitness, and that’s where I’m working from. I’m going to try to fit in another 5k in July or August before I move age groups, and see how my speed has improved.


This coming weekend, I’ll be racing my first half marathon since Dallas. I’m excited for this trip! I’ve never been to San Diego, and I’ve never gone to run a race without driving there. I’ll be there with Team Chocolate Milk, and you can follow my race updates on Instagram all weekend.