Rock ‘n Roll Dallas 2017

On Sunday, I ran the Dallas Rock ‘n Roll half marathon. It was my 5th time running this race, and third time as a part of Team Chocolate Milk. I look forward to it every year. Coming off of fall/winter marathon training, the energy and excitement of this race (not to mention that it’s a HALF) can’t be beat. 🙂

I went to the expo on Saturday, picked up my bib, and over to the We Run Social meet up. I saw several others from Team Chocolate Milk so that was fun.

It did seem like the expo has gotten smaller to me though. Some of the things we were needing to get weren’t there, but I did get a few Larabar samples.

I drove in with my daughter on race morning, after making a wrong turn and parking 15 minutes later than planned, then made my way to the VIP lounge to grab a snack and check my bag. I drank my UCAN, and had a few minutes to meet some other teammates as well.

Then I met up with my friends from my running group. I think this was the biggest group we’ve had go, and for some of them it was their first Rock ‘n Roll race.

 

We made our way to our different corrals, and I was so ready to run 13 miles (and not 26)!

Notice the tank. Yeah, it wasn’t cold.  Like at all.

I had no idea what to expect to run, but I had set two loose goals earlier in the week:

1. Under 2 hours. (realistic goal)

2. 1:55 (stretch goal)

I thought these were manageable because a) it wasn’t a marathon, b) I ran 2:01 last year the day after a 2 hour trainer ride, and c) it wasn’t a marathon. 😉

But I forgot to account for the warm weather. Temps were high 60s at the start. And I truly forgot about the hilly second half.

I cruised along the first several miles not really looking at my pace, just glancing down at the mile splits when my Garmin buzzed.

Miles 1-5: 8:57, 8:38, 8:50, 8:31, 8:42

I was definitely on track for sub 2.

Then the hill (on-ramp) to get to the bridge hit.

Mile 6: 9:24

The bridge is long and straight though once you get up there, but there are several hills over the next few miles. I never really recovered my pace from the initial climb.

Miles 7-9: 9:05, 9:41, 10:37

Mile 9 really got me and I walked up that little mountain for a minute to catch my breath. All the hills in Cowtown were still in my legs.

I took a couple more short walk breaks in the last few miles, a few cups of water dumped over my head at aid stations. The sun was bright and I lost the 2 hour goal. I focused on finishing and smiling. I was hot, but I knew there was a nice finish and cold chocolate milk waiting for me.

Miles 10-13: 10:04, 9:56, 10:53, 10:22

Then a downhill tunnel finish cheered on by the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.

My official finish time was 2:06:37.

The chocolate milk was refreshing as always. Here’s why I always recover with chocolate milk – it’s science.

For the first time ever I opted for a post-race massage, where I discovered I had a knot on the side of each calf muscle. Ow! I need to work on rolling those out.

I found my daughter and we spent some time on the lawn watching the concert before I took her back to school.

It may not have been the time on the clock I wanted, but it was a great race and a lot of fun.

 

 

Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio Half Marathon

I couldn’t think of a better way to reward four months of marathon training, than to finish up my last long training run with a fun race!

Last weekend, my running buddy and I headed down to San Antonio for a whirlwind trip to run the Rock ‘n Roll half marathon. We left early Saturday morning, and fortunately traffic on I-35 cooperated.  We made good time even with the rain, and at the the expo we weren’t disappointed. I stocked up on more Nuun, and there was a sighting of US Olympian marathoners.

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Jared Ward and Meb!

A high-five from Meb 😉

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After we checked in to the hotel, we headed for a meet up with the other members of Team Chocolate Milk who were in San Antonio. Since the rain dampened (ha!) our plans for a shakeout run, we went to the Tower of the Americas to hang out. All the times I’ve been to San Antonio, this is the first time I’ve been to the tower. I didn’t realize it was a glass elevator that took you up to the observation deck. So I faced the back of the elevator, and tried not to look out until we reached the top. (I have a slight fear of heights.) Once we were on the observation deck, I was fine. But it was nice to chat with other team members and hang out a bit.

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Race morning was cool and breezy, but not too much in the way of rain. The roads were still pretty wet. After all, we were under a flood warning.

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It started sprinkling in the start corral, but once we started running, I began to feel a little warm, and wished I wore my tank. Running through the downtown streets, we would turn into the wind and then I’d cool off some. We ran right in front of the Alamo, which is my favorite part of the course. The two hour pacer was in front of us, and my friend heard a spectator yell, “Way to go, two o’clock!” Ha!

Around mile 6 or 7, it started to rain harder and the rain was dripping off of my visor. The course is mostly flat, with the few climbs past halfway. I remember one tough little hill. Mile 11 maybe? But I was ready for it. I’ve been training on hills, and my legs were ready. There were also a couple of places we made a detour to avoid large puddles in the road, but I was completely soaked when I finished. This would be a great PR race because it’s so flat, and I’d love to try to do that one year.

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One of my favorite things about the Rock ‘n Roll races: I know there will be chocolate milk ready for me at the finish.

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Chocolate milk is my go-to for recovery after a hard and/or long run. Not only does it fit in my budget, but I don’t have to worry about where to get it when I run out. Grocery stores, convenience stores, and even McDonald’s carries low-fat chocolate milk! If you want to know the science behind it, check out this article. I know that it makes my body happy. I feel like I’m doing good for my muscles, and the soreness is less pronounced when I recover right. Try it!

Now that I’ve had my fun race (in the rain), I’m ready to focus on my goal for Dallas this Sunday. I’ve been chasing the sub 4 hour marathon for three years. At this moment, it looks like the weather might actually cooperate this year. I’m not going to hold my breath on that one, but I will focus on the things I can control: nutrition, rest, and following my race day plan. If I survive the taper…

 

 

 

Downtime, Goals, and Kids

I promised myself (and my family) that once I finished Buffalo Springs, I would take a break from training and be present. I would take time with them and time for myself. In the past three weeks, I enjoyed several games of Peanut (think Solitaire with teams) at 9:30 at night with my kids, I went to the library and checked out books that I am actually reading, and have been focusing more on my kids. Also, I went back to my Saturday morning running group. That was one of the things I really missed while half Ironman training. I enjoy the camaraderie of the group, and even though I don’t get the chance to run with them all (some of them are really fast), it has been nice to catch up and meet some new members.

“Are you the one who did the triathlon?”

“Yes, that’s me.”

One of the main things I’m working on now is helping my kids. My oldest daughter is going to UT on a Navy ROTC scholarship in August. I’m running with her in the mornings to help her get the endurance she needs to have when she checks in. My 10 year old wants to run another 5k. So I have been going out with him in the evenings to get him running consistently. He’s done a few 5ks in the past two years, but this is the first time he has shown sustained interest and reminds me what days and how far we need to run.

Last week, I took the three kids to the track so we could all stay together. Even the 13 year old who likes the idea of running until she actually does it, came along. It wasn’t the storybook ending I would have liked to have that night, but at least I have some memories in pictures for when they’re all grown up.

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I made a deal with myself that I would keep my activity level to under an hour after the half Ironman. I wanted to give my body the rest it deserved before marathon training starts in August. I also wanted to finish taking off the weight I had put on the last two years. Up until last weekend, I stayed true to my promise of staying under an hour.

On Saturday, I ran just over an hour with the group, and then headed out with my daughter for 30 minutes to run/walk. The next morning, I went on a bike ride with my friend and her husband. She keeps asking me to go with her with the cycling group on Saturdays, and I keep telling her I don’t want to be on my bike that long. Plus, it conflicts with the run group. But this time when she asked me to go ride, I relented because it was on Sunday morning and under two hours.

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I didn’t hate it.

But I’m going to try to keep the endurance bug in check for a few more weeks.

Last night when my son and I ran together, he told me he was moving slower so he could work on his stamina. We are up to a mile and a half. For a child who would rather play video games all summer, I think we’re making great progress.

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Now that I’ve talked a little about how I’m enjoying my downtime, tell me what’s something you do?

A Tale of Two Bike Rides (and a run)

I’m taking advantage of my recovery week to catch up on my blog posting and other things around the home. The training started to take a toll on me last week, and was evident when I took my son’s Spider-Man towel to the pool. The dirty laundry was overflowing a bit and paperwork threatened to cover the kitchen counter.

This is week 8 of 16, and what I thought would be my biggest challenge of half Ironman training is turning out to be different from what I expected. I thought the hardest part would be in cutting back on running.  With only three runs a week, I thought I would miss it more. Actually, I have so much to work on with my weaknesses (swim and bike), I haven’t really had time in my brain to miss those extra runs. Even on Marathon Monday (Boston Marathon day), I was excited to track the runners from my group and I was again inspired to work hard, but it was my rest day and I needed the break.

Especially after a tough bike ride two days before.

As it turns out, I’m not great at cycling and I have a lot to learn. Every Saturday for my long ride, I have been dealing with the wind. But on this day, it wore me out. The route I ride, with a few variations, is out and back. That means if the wind pushes me one direction, I will be fighting it coming back. This day was especially hard, because some of the gusts and crosswinds made me wonder if I’d end up in the ditch if I took one hand off for a drink. Needless to say, I didn’t fuel enough either. In the last five miles, I tried to be positive. I tried to be excited about the new distance, but I wanted to cry because it was hard. It reminded me of when I trained for my first marathon, and with each new distance I was proud for pushing on, past the point of doubt and pain. I could feel the tension in my neck and shoulders as I finished up my ride, just from controlling the bike. When I pulled into my driveway, I stopped and straddled my bike with my head down. Glad it was done; feeling stronger than I did before.

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40 miles done.

You can tell where the wind beat me up on my bike splits.

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The next week, my plan had a 45 mile ride followed by a 15 minute run and I wasn’t looking forward to it. I tend to get nervous before my long ride every week, and I should be over that by now. I easily expected to be out there for almost four hours (including the run). My husband worked on my bike, and I asked him if he could tilt my saddle forward just a tad. I’ve had some pain toward the end of my rides, and I know I need to go get a bike fit. But this would suffice for now. Then I headed out.

I don’t know if it was the weather (calm and sunny), the adjustments to the bike seat, or the smoother shifting that helped, but this ride was nice. My legs were sore for the first couple of miles (after a 5 mile run the night before), but then I settled into the ride and my head for the next few hours. I finished a 45 mile ride in 3:05:44 – average 14.5 mph – only 5 minutes slower than the previous week’s ride of 40 miles. What a difference! I ran inside to my makeshift transition area, and came back out for my 15 minute run. It was hot outside, and I was sweating. But I got it done! I even started some new tan lines from my cycling shorts. 🙂

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A lot of chocolate milk for recovery all weekend!

My pace was pretty good for the run. It’s such a different feeling going from the bike to the run. I don’t know if you ever get used to it. I’m trying not to think too much about the half marathon I’ll be doing after all the biking (and swimming).

Sunday morning I did my long run of 11 miles. It was so peaceful out – just me and the squirrels. It’s been a while since I’ve run that many miles solo, and it was different.

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But for the remainder of my training, I’m going to move the long run to the afternoon – in the heat. That’s what my Ironman friend told me I need to do. Train when you will race. So my days of cool early morning runs are over, and I’ll be sweating it out in the heat from now on.  Oh yeah!

Now I’m off to try to reduce this laundry pile. Have a great week!

 

 

 

 

Building Distance (Week 3)

I had almost forgotten what it’s like to push my body to “new to me” distances. Week 3 of half Ironman training started that again for me, and there will be several more to come. The challenge of new distances has kept me on my toes, and I’m enjoying the variety with the three different sports.

(I first intended to combine the last two weeks of training into one post, but I want to give last week’s activities justice, so I’ll hopefully get that post up later this week.)

I finally pulled my bike off the trainer for my long ride on Easter weekend. Up until this point, my longest ride had been 24 miles with a couple of friends back in the summer. It was me trailing them without really knowing what I was doing.

I still don’t really know what I’m doing, but I do know I need to be on the road as much as possible to get my confidence and experience level up. So on Good Friday, I set out for 30 miles.

It was a little cooler than I preferred, but I wore my long sleeves and compression socks to help me stay warm. The wind was up a little, as it has been every time I’ve gone for a run lately. It’s definitely springtime here!

My husband and I mapped out a route. A boring out and back route, but there were a couple of hills and a wide shoulder to ride on. By the time I got back home, I was tired from the wind and the distance, and very hungry. Once I had my chocolate milk for recovery, I noticed my appetite vanished for a few hours. It reminded me of when I first started running long and I would lose my appetite after a run.

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The next morning, I went for a long run with the Saturday morning crew, and then went to the pool after picking up my younger daughter at home.  She’s been begging to go swim with me, so I got her up and we hurried to the pool. We had to be done before the 10 am Aqua Zumba class, so I was on a mission to finish my distance. The pool was busier than I expected for a Saturday morning, but it was good because the water was choppier than when I usually swim. Abby was in the same lane as me, using the kickboard so that was good experience as well. I finished up my longest swim session thus far, and called it a day.

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It was actually 1200 yds, but I had a calf cramp that started another length.

Except that we still had an egg hunt to do. I was surprised that my oldest daughter wanted to hunt eggs too. After the first round, they told me it was too easy. So I had to go back and hide them again.

 

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I love that these kids can do things together and enjoy each other’s company.

Easter was damp, cool, and windy, but I had a short bike ride planned. I enjoyed a nice recovery ride with my ten year old, with a lot of loops around lightly traveled streets, and time in the school parking lot. I practiced starting and stopping, turning and clipping in/out. There’s only one way to get better on the bike. Practice, practice, practice.

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It may not have been speedy or far, but I was able to combine family time with training, and to me that’s a win.

Rock ‘n Roll Dallas with Team Chocolate Milk (2016)

Last Sunday I ran the Rock ‘n Roll Dallas half marathon for the fourth year, and my second year as part of Team Chocolate Milk. As I wrote in my last post, this is one of my favorite races of the year.

I kept up with all my half Ironman training workouts, and I did my long bike ride on Saturday on the trainer – because the temps were in the 30s. I also wasn’t ready to get my bike on the road yet. I didn’t really want to race Sunday with any injuries from tipping over on the bike. I’m still working on that.

Because I dawdled getting out of bed Saturday morning and spent my time on the bike trainer (1:40:00), we got to the expo a little later than I planned. I missed the #werunsocial meetup, and the chance to meet some runners from Instagram. But I did stock up on some of my favorite hydration, Nuun. I remember a time when I got on to my kids about using my Nuun bottles, but we have a nice little stockpile now. So I find them all over the house…

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I focused on nutrition and rest throughout the day. My legs were feeling pretty good after the bike time and expo, so I was hopeful they would be good for race day.

I met up with some of the team before the race. I enjoyed hearing where others were from, and then there were a few of us locals who run into each other at races throughout the year.

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Race morning was cold! The temperature was right on the bubble whether I should wear long or short sleeves, so I went with long sleeves and shorts. It was a little windy, but not as much as it had been the day before.

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My friend and I ran together to start. I had a loose goal of sub 2 hours. I figured with the triathlon training, that it was a manageable time goal. We were rolling along really well, with an average pace of 8:48 for the first five miles. But I forgot about the hills. Around mile 6, we began the climb to the Margaret Hunt Hill bridge. This was an interesting hill to climb. On the service road, taking the on-ramp by foot. You could see the runners down below, and the view was different, but in a good way. Once we reached the bridge, my hamstrings reminded me I rode the bike the day before. My friend was just ahead of me and I was struggling to keep up with her. At one point she turned around to wait for me, but I sent her on. I didn’t want to hold her back because I could tell she was feeling great at that point.

The next hill was pretty steep, but I plowed on. I could still see my friend up ahead, but couldn’t muster the strength to speed up to her. My stomach started acting up around mile 9, and I knew my race nutrition was off. At mile 11 I darted into a porta-potty (better safe than sorry) and lost my sub 2 hour goal. It was out of my control though, so I’m not beating myself up over it. My official finish time was 2:01:45. My friend ended up setting a PR (several minutes ahead of me). She can sure knock out those hills!

The finish was amazing, with a nice downhill and a turn, and crowds of people gathered on both sides of the road, cheering their hearts out. It was much improved over previous years I thought. It made me feel like a superstar. Then I got my chocolate milk, and all was right again. 🙂

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If you aren’t familiar with the benefits of chocolate milk for recovery, take a look here. I know the importance of replenishing my muscles after a hard or long workout or race, but for me one of the main benefits is that I can stomach it immediately after. Especially if my race nutrition is off, or my stomach is upset (as was the case here).

I gathered up with some other team members who finished right about the same time. I feel priveleged to be a part of this team:

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I then got my extra medal for running San Antonio and Dallas, which is always a nice treat. Rock ‘n Roll does it right, and it was another great experience for me.

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Band on the Run 5k

After the Cowtown Marathon, I chose to have an unstructured, no stress week of activity. Everyday I set my alarm for my “sleeping in” time – early enough to get everyone up and ready for the day. Two of those days I woke up before the alarm. On Wednesday morning, I did an easy spin on the bike trainer for 30 minutes, and on Thursday I ran a whopping two miles without looking at my pace.

I also started the process of losing the marathon weight gain. Again. At work, I was faced with the temptation of homemade cookies on Tuesday, pizza on Thursday, and donuts on Friday. But I passed by it all without a second glance. I also baked brownies for the pasta dinner on Friday without a taste test. So yay for all those victories!

Our high school’s band program held its second annual pasta dinner and 5k over the weekend, beginning with the pasta dinner on Friday night. I caved a little on my week of stellar eating with a small plate of spaghetti and 2 oatmeal raisin cookies. I did give my son three of the four meatballs on my plate though, but sitting through the performances of 5 different concert bands weakened my resolve against the cookies. That’s what happens when you have one child in the first band, and one playing last. You’re sitting there for a bit.

Normally, I wouldn’t choose to race a 5k one week after a marathon, but this was about raising money and supporting the band – and it was a great way for me to participate. With my feet.

My parents had come up to visit, go to the dinner/concert, run the race, and celebrate my daughter’s birthday (18!). I’m glad the race was close to the house, because it was kind of bonkers getting everyone ready and out the door. I’m so accustomed to just getting myself ready. But we finally made it and with enough time for me to do a little warm up with my friend. My legs felt strange – like I was bouncing almost. I didn’t know what to expect for the race.

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The plan was for me to run my race, then go back and run my kids in. My husband was out on his bike, so he could keep me posted on their progress.

My friend and I ran together for almost all of the race. It was a small race and we started near the front, behind some high school runners. My favorite thing about this course is the familiarity. I knew the route, and the little uphill near the beginning would be a nice payoff at the end. The rest of the course is flat. At the turnaround, there were band members playing familiar “football game” tunes. I saw my two kids at different points and my parents and waved. The kids were smiling which was a good sign. I managed all right up until the third mile, when I ended up with a side stitch. So I’m trying to hold my pace steady while pinching my side to ease the stitch. That’s what I get for trying to go all out. Finally when I hit the downhill, I found my kick and ran through the finish to the sounds of the band playing the fight song for every finisher. The 5k hurt, but I didn’t have time to whine.

 

I grabbed a bottle of water, reset my Garmin, and headed back to run my kids in. It took less than a mile for me to get to my 10 year old son. He was running for 60 seconds, and walking for 10. I ran with him for a minute, before my husband sent me back to find my daughter. This little boy was in good spirits, and he was going to make it just fine.

Then I found my daughter who was red-faced and smiling. She had been walking with my mom for a bit, but then started talking to someone else and fell behind. She was doing great with her plan of running cone to cone, then walking to the next one. When we got to the downhill, I told her to run the rest of the way in and I pulled off to the side. After she finished, one of the moms came up to me and said, “she encouraged me out there.” That makes me so happy.

IMG_7407 IMG_7409The other great thing about small races: age groups are smaller. I actually was the third female to finish, with a time 3 minutes slower than my PR – but the effort was all out. My daughter was 2nd in her age group. My son is in a more competitive group. We had to remind him that he’s the youngest, and there’s a big difference between ages 10 and 14. He did take almost 3 minutes off of his last 5k though! I reminded them that the important thing was they had fun, and this was for the band. We all had a good time, and my husband didn’t have to run so he was happy. I want to continue to foster the no pressure approach to running with my kids, and activities like this help.

 

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It was a fun race, and I hope to see it grow for next year. It also reminded me how much I’ve missed running shorter distances.

 

Do you enjoy racing 5ks? What about small races?