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.

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Dallas Marathon Weekend 2019

My favorite race weekend of the year came the following weekend after RNR San Antonio. I have participated in a Dallas Marathon race every year since my first half marathon in 2010. I have a lot of history with this race: first half, first full, worst full, worst weather, first cancelled marathon, and so on. But the race is special to me because it was my first half and full, so I make it a point to run it every year.

Last year (2018) was the first time since my first half that I decided to run the half instead of the full. My training schedule this year was different too, since I ran the Fort Worth Marathon in November. So I went with the same plan for Dallas for 2019, with an added twist.

I received a complimentary entry to a Saturday race from Dallas Marathon late in the game. Since I don’t get to run many 10ks, and to make it worth the extra drive down, I registered for the 10k. I wasn’t considered a Weekend Series participant, but I would have the chance to do something different for me.

On Friday of race weekend, I went to the expo with one of my friends.

We picked up packets and had enough time to find our names on the car, sign the big race sign, and look at the history banners from past years. I always enjoy looking at these banners with the year, picture of the shirt and medal, the temperature, number of finishers, and winners’ finish times.

A picture of me taking a picture of my name. 🙂

We were in and out, and back home in time to pick up kids from school. #momlife

Saturday morning, I headed back to Dallas with my other running friend. She was going to shop the expo and pick up her packet while I raced the 10k. My plan was to go ahead and go all out and see how I would do. After my disappointment from RNR San Antonio, I wanted to have at least one race in Dallas where I felt I ran to my potential. The weather was great. A little on the cool side, so I wore shorts and long sleeves. By the end of the first mile, I was pushing up my sleeves trying to cool down a little. I was surprised when I saw the split for mile 1 – 8:12. I hadn’t done any fast running since the marathon, and didn’t have any sub 9:00 miles in San Antonio. I told myself to just keep charging. It was 6 miles, so if I struggled near the end that was ok. The second mile went up a hill on a bridge. I thought this was supposed to be a flat and fast course! Then we made a u-turn and came right back down. That helped a little. My pace was still under 8:30 for the second mile. I held steady. I kept ticking off the miles, feeling strong, cranking out consecutive paces I hadn’t seen in a while. I was so excited when I made the turn and saw the banner with 100 meters to go.

My official finish time was 52:20 making my goal of sub 55 minutes a reality. Honestly, I got a little choked up because I was proud – and surprised – with what I ran.

That’s a great feeling!

The post-race chocolate milk was a nice bonus too. 🙂

On Sunday, the three of us headed to the race to run the half distance. The weather was not as cold as Saturday had been. I was in shorts and my RunRelated tank. It was cloudy, but a little on the humid side. Once we got into the start corral, I was comfortable. That’s not necessarily a good sign, but typical for me at Dallas. But I was still riding the high from the 10k, so I was just going to run what my body would let me run. No excuses.

I was excited.

The first few miles went well. I was probably averaging around 9:00 with a little variation due to congestion and settling into a rhythm. The sun came out around mile 4 and it started warming up. I didn’t have my music, so I focused on the atmosphere around me. My legs were holding up pretty well, even through the big hills. Every aid station from mile 7 through the finish of the race, I took a cup of water – one sip, and I’d dump the rest over my head. It was heating up out there!

My legs started whining, but I didn’t take my foot off the gas. I was hanging between 9-9:15 minute miles. I wanted it to be faster than San Antonio, and I was on track. When the half split from the full, I knew the uphills were behind me. The last 4 or so miles are a gradual decline – so gradual you really can’t see it, but the climbing was done. At mile 12, my legs were really complaining. It was my slowest mile. But then I rallied and found another gear. We passed a big number 8, signifying 800 meters to go. The guy next to me asked, “are we almost there?” “Half a mile,” I said. “Let’s go.” Then the big 4 to show 400 meters. So close.

I had an advantage since the finish line was the same as the day before, so I knew how the turns led us to the finish. I made the final turn and saw the 100m to go sign, and kicked it in.  It wasn’t a negative split race according to my Garmin, but I was happy with the effort I pulled out in the final half mile of the race.

My finish time was about 4 minutes faster than San Antonio, and neither course was flat. For Dallas, I had no stops, no walks, no talking myself down from a time goal, no excuses – not even the weather. I just dealt with it the best I could. I felt strong and confident the whole race. After the tough previous races, I sooooo needed that. My mental attitude was strong in both races, and I felt like my old self.

Yay for chocolate milk!

Very Important Information!

Then I celebrated with my friends.

Next year is going to be Dallas Marathon’s 50th Anniversary. It’s going to be a big deal.

I’ll be celebrating an entire decade of running, and I’ll be there for it. Maybe it’s time to go back to the full marathon…

 

Dallas (Half) Marathon 2018

The Dallas Marathon was my first half marathon in 2010, and my first full marathon in 2011. I’ve participated in it every year, always opting for the full marathon after the first one. This year, due to my goals, I discussed with my coach and we decided the half marathon would be a good way for me to still carry on the tradition, without compromising my training for Houston.

Results of my past full marathons in Dallas reflect my love/hate relationship with this course: 4:32, 5:12, 4:31, 4:17, 4:26, 4:46. So honestly up until before race week, I felt okay about running the half instead.

To be honest though, I was a little sad on race week. Nostalgia and all. But not stressing about running 26 miles while walking around the expo was kind of nice.

I made a stop by the Cowtown booth to “ooh” and “aah” over the 2019 race shirts and medals. Don’t forget, if you want to run this great race you can still register under my team “Anyone Can Run” and use promo code AMBASSADOR5 to save a total of $10 on a Sunday race. 

On race day morning, the weather was perfect – for a marathon. 🙂 High 30s, slight wind. The high for the day was only going to be in the 40s. I take credit for the great forecast, since I wasn’t running 26 miles. My friend and I lined up in the start corral, and I also met one of my RunRelated teammates who is also training for Houston. I was in shorts, with long sleeves (that I could push up), throwaway gloves, and my headband.

Tip: save heat sheets from previous races to stay warm at the start! (Mine was around my legs)

Then we were off. I focused on a consistent, steady pace, only looking at my Garmin once or twice a mile. I kept the Garmin on the lap screen so I didn’t see the total time, only lap distance and pace. Mile 3 went a little bonkers, because my pace showed some unrealistic 6 and 7 minute paces, then buzzed quite a bit before the mile marker. I knew that one would be off. But I didn’t let it bother me. The hills in the middle of the race can be tough if you’re not prepared, but I knew once we were past 15k, the course would flatten out. Much better than how San Antonio had that crazy hill at mile 11.

Throughout the race, I had pulled off my gloves and tucked them away. The sun peeked out, and I moved my headband to my wrist. I pushed my sleeves up and was starting to sweat.

When the half split from the full at mile 9, I wasn’t even sad. After the turn, I saw the mile 22 banner across the road (where the full course joins back up). I smiled when I realized I was running strong and I wasn’t crying on this stretch of road for probably the first time. 🙂 It cooled off a little with the wind and some shade, so pulled my sleeves back down as I covered this last part of the course. I tried to pick up my pace for the remaining couple of miles to finish strong. It looks like the hills took their toll. I didn’t look at my overall time until I crossed the finish line and stopped my Garmin.

As I made my way through the finisher chute, picking up all my post race goodies, I was smiling. I had run a good race at Dallas for the first time in a few years. It was my fastest half marathon all year – and my fastest half since 2016. I sat down on the curb with my chocolate milk and took it all in.

Yay chocolate milk!

Mentally, I would have liked to be a little faster going into Houston, but physically this is what I accomplished. Hills and all, I’m proud of what I ran. It was consistent, and it shows progress. I’ve basically decided the half is the way to go at Dallas, because I closed out my 2018 racing year on a positive note.

 

 

 

Next up, Houston!