Rock ‘n Roll San Diego Half Marathon

I got to take my first destination race trip earlier this month, to the Rock ‘n Roll San Diego Marathon. I was excited for the opportunity to represent Team Chocolate Milk, and the whole weekend was so much fun.

My running friend, Leda, and I took this trip together. We both needed a break from reality for a few days.

This was also my first flight in years! I haven’t been on a plane in so long (pre-9/11) but with kids, etc. it’s just been hard to get away. So my first introduction to TSA involved a full pat down (welcome back to air travel) and then we were ready to head out of Texas. The only issue we had was a short flight delay, but we arrived in San Diego to cloudy skies and cool temperatures. I’m glad I grabbed a light jacket at the last minute before leaving home!

Our hotel was great and let us check in three hours early! We then headed to the expo at the convention center on foot, stopping to eat a slice of pizza on the way.

Palm Trees!

At the expo we picked up our packets, got some freebies, and bought some new socks.

Ready for Chocolate Milk!

We explored some more around the convention center, and found a place for dinner. As we made our way back to the hotel, we came across the Donut Bar. One of our running friends had suggested we stop there while we were in town. She said there would be a line but it was worth it. They were closed when we got there, but the sign said there was an encore ropening at 5 pm. It was 4:45 so we waited.

There are 2 donuts in that huge box – and a line out the door!

It was worth it.

 

Since we had decided against running the 5k, our Saturday schedule was wide open. The hardest part was waiting for the breakfast room to open, because we were both wide awake by 4:00 am. 🙂

We took advantage of no time schedule and the opportunity to explore San Diego. I wasn’t too worried about my race time. It wouldn’t be my fastest half marathon, and I didn’t know if I would ever have the chance to come back to San Diego. So we said the heck with it, and looked at our options. My husband (a Navy vet) had suggested we go to the USS Midway since we were so close. It was a lot of walking, but so interesting! As the wife of a veteran, and mom to a Navy ROTC midshipman (she will be a commissioned officer this time next year), the Navy has had a lot of influence on my life. It makes me appreciate my comfortable life so much more, seeing what our service members go through to keep us safe.

USS Midway

The Hangar Deck

After about four hours touring the Midway Museum, we headed down the road for a late lunch/early dinner. We found the park where they were setting up the stage and post race party area.

Interesting art sculpture in a park

We trekked up the big hill back to our hotel, and my legs were tired! I laid out my flat runner and was ready to get some sleep!

RACE DAY!

I had no trouble getting ready for a 6:30 am race start, because we kept our body clocks on our own time zone. We had about a mile to walk to the start in Balboa Park, and it was a cool 62 degrees.

If you’ve ever run a Rock ‘n Roll race, you know the energy at the start line is great. I dropped my bag (with my jacket) at the VIP gear check. Thank you chocolate milk! Then we headed to our corral.

 

I was excited to run!

Once we started, Leda and I ran together for a minute, then we each settled into our own pace. I couldn’t believe how great the weather felt! I could run and breathe – at the same time! 🙂 I didn’t worry about my pace too much, and just focused on settling into my pace. I gave myself a quick reminder to enjoy the run, and also gave myself grace for having tired legs, but I didn’t give myself an out for it either. I knew the course had some hills, but boy I was not prepared for that many! I think hills are one of my strengths as a runner, but I didn’t want to use up all my energy. I just worked on picking up the pace on the downhills to even it out. I knew from the course profile the last couple of miles were mostly downhill and I could kick it out then.

A little past mile 4 was the wear blue: run to remember mile. Do you know how hard it is to run at half marathon pace and try not to lose it? The combination of touring the USS Midway the day before, being a Navy wife, having a daughter who will be a Naval officer in a year, and knowing service members who have lost their lives, it hit me hard. There are pictures of those who’ve lost their lives. Their name, rank, age, and the year they died. Picture after picture along the road for over half a mile. All so young! I was trying to breathe and not cry. Then when the pictures stop, the people holding flags start. On each side of the road, cheering for you for the rest of the mile. Some of them were in uniform, some were wearing blue. I’m stumbling with my words here, so all I can say is I’m thankful, grateful.

I continued my foot tour of San Diego and navigated the hills with a smooth pace. There were lots of spectators along the way – and more hills. It was still cool and cloudy. I was happy to see that I was staying around a 9:00 pace. There was a huge downhill in mile 10 that I would have liked to fly down, but in my mind I could see me sprawled out across the pavement if I did. So I held back and took it steady. A guy flew by me on the way down, but he was young and it made my quads hurt just watching him.

Then we had to go back up. Again.

Course elevation from my Garmin. Note the big drop near the end.

Finally, in the last 5k I kicked up the pace. Mile 12 was almost all downhill and I was booking it. I knew I was close to being under 2 hours, and there were no excuses. At the beginning of mile 13, there was one more tough climb, but the rest was a smooth descent to the finish. I crossed the finish line pleased with my effort. No stops, no walks. Negative splits.

 

Negative Splits!

I found my chocolate milk!

 

And why do I love to recover with chocolate milk? You can read the research here. I also like that it’s ready to go. It’s affordable, can get it anywhere, and it is easy on my stomach when I can’t always eat after a hard run. It took me a while before I was ready to eat, so I was glad to have started the recovery process with my chocolate milk.

I then headed over to the VIP tent, which was set up near the stage. I got a post race massage, and a little more food to tide me over. I saw Meb with his family, and some of the elite runners I follow. But I’m a chicken when I don’t have anyone to push me out there to meet them. I later saw where Meb had paced a family member in his first half marathon. How awesome is that!

I found Leda and we enjoyed some time sitting on the grass, listening to the music from the stage, and chatting about the race.

Then we went down to the harbor so I could get a few souvenirs, and my medal picture.

 

And the trek back up the hill to the hotel with what was left of my quads.

Our hotel was near the building at the top of this picture.

 

Then we found a great place for lunch and another wonderful place for some gelato. I definitely indulged, and I’m not even sorry.

How do you choose?

Pick 2 flavors!

Also, my Garmin showed I had 22 miles total for the day.

I really enjoyed this trip so much. We had great food everywhere, good service, and no issues at all.

It was a nice break; all centered around doing what I love to do: run.

…and eat. 🙂

 

Advertisements

Getting Ready for Cowtown

This statement resonated with me as I dealt with my disappointment from Houston. I went from being okay, to a post-race meltdown with tears, to being fired up for the next one in just a matter of days.

So I took some time to really evaluate my goals, and find a way to still challenge myself in a new way (more on that part at a later date).

I eased back into the running after a good recovery week, but I’ve also added some new things to shake things up – like yoga classes and indoor rowing.

I went to my first yoga class a few weeks ago, and it was awkward. I can’t touch my toes, and stretching is something I’m not real consistent about. But I can see how this will be helpful for me to continue. So I’m going to keep at it.

I think we had one Saturday long run where I wore shorts and short sleeves. It was humid, but I was happy without all the extra gear.

I’m also making sure to not let my goal chasing consume me. Yes my running goals are important, but it’s also important to take a breather and relax in between.

So we took my son to a Dallas Mavericks game one Sunday evening. He had been looking forward to it for months, and it was a great game to watch. The hardest part was staying out past 9 p.m. 😉 Actually, the hard part was that the world’s most obnoxious fan was right behind me.

 

I also volunteered at a local area trail run this past weekend with one of my friends. We worked an aid station 2.5 miles from the start/finish and the theme was the Love Shack. It was freezing cold, but we had fun. It was interesting to see so many different types of runners on the trail. You have some that are completely focused on getting to the finish, and then some that are out there just for the experience. I made a lot of pb&j, and it was just like the good old days when I made my kids’ lunches.

I think volunteering is important for runners to do. Without volunteers, there are no races. I encourage you to find a way to help out a local race. Some of them have perks for volunteering (free race entries, free shirt), but some of them just need your time.

This week I’m tapering for Cowtown, with extra rest and a little bit of running. I’ll be at the expo handing out t-shirts on Friday, so if you’re there early come say hi! Then on Sunday, I’ll run my 19th marathon. It’s time to complete my medal set!

 

 

Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio 2018

The first weekend of December was packed with a whirlwind trip to San Antonio with two of my best running friends. This was one of my races for Team Chocolate Milk, and it was the fourth time I’ve run this race.

I love this weekend for so many reasons!

Chocolate milk (of course)

Nonstop running talk with friends 

We never got tired of talking about running, and didn’t bore anyone with it. 🙂

Unique opportunities (like meeting elite runners)

I have been a Des Linden fan for years, so I was excited to have the chance to tell her she inspires me to not give up on my Boston goal. #keepshowingup We talked about how tuneup races (like this half for me) are important. My friends also had the chance to meet and take pictures with Meb. I love that they give up so much of their time for everyday runners.

The beauty of San Antonio

I have a fear of heights (see also RNR ’16) and our room was on the top floor of the Westin facing the river. It was pretty with all the Christmas lights, but I would not step out onto the balcony.

Meeting up with my teammates

These are just a few of my teammates I was able to meet up with before the race. I enjoy catching up with and meeting new team members from all over. We may have our different race distances and goals, but still encourage and support one another.

Part of the Texas crew!

Running through San Antonio

I always enjoy this half marathon course. There are a couple of hills (and a big booger at mile 11), but most of the course is fairly flat. This year the weather was good – 50s at the start, and then sunny. But it did warm up kind of fast. I was running on tired legs since I’m training for the Houston Marathon, and I held on to a decent pace through mile 10. A combination of a nutrition/hydration issue and my tired legs, meant I didn’t hang on to my sub 2 hour goal. Plus, I had quite a bit of weaving around walkers, etc. They didn’t fix this issue from last year. Overall, though, I was okay with the pace I ran. I just wish my official race results showed it.

Recovery!

I sure appreciate when a race has chocolate milk at the finish! Here’s the science behind it, and how the mix of carbs:protein helps your muscles recover.

 

The Medal

 

Until next year, San Antonio…

We’ll be back!

 

 

Rock ‘n Roll Dallas 2018

Rock ‘n Roll Dallas half marathon is one of the races I look forward to each year, and this year was no different. I’m a little slow on the recap, but I’ll just leave this right here as my excuse.

 

 

Meet Cleo

Do you know how hard it is to get anything done with this little one scampering around my feet, begging me to pick her up? Cleo joined our family on race day after I got home. My family has been trying to talk me into another dog since before Christmas, and I finally caved. Needless to say, I’m not sleeping as soundly as this.

Anyway, back to the race stuff…

RNR Dallas is one of my races sponsored by Chocolate Milk, and I always look forward to it because I have so much fun. This race holds my fastest half marathon time, but that was before they changed the course and added all the hills. I kind of miss the flatter course.

I went down to the expo with two of my friends on Saturday, and we had a good time talking about running, checking out all the gear that I’d love to buy, but really don’t need.

Then on Sunday, the three of us went down to the race together. Once there, I met up with some of my teammates before the race. I think all of us in this picture are from Texas. 🙂

Temps were in the 60s and humidity was high, but there was a slight breeze. I hoped the overcast skies would hang around, because the sun cooked me last year with the same temperatures.

 

We squeezed into the front of our start corral, because I didn’t want a repeat of the San Antonio weaving.

Cheese!

Leda was going to take it easy with her knee. I wanted to run right under two hours, so my other friend (who’s training for Boston) said she was going to stay with me. I’ve set several PRs in local races trying to catch her, so I didn’t object.

The first few miles went off without a hitch. We settled into a rhythm. Some miles a little bit faster than I thought was ok, but maybe I could hang. My fast friend said she’d pull me up those hills by my braid if she had to, to keep me going. 🙂

The first big climb was in mile 5 when you run up a ramp to get to that darn iconic bridge they keep putting in this race. I don’t like that bridge. I scooted over as far on the inside as I could to make the circular climb, and wondered why so many people were running along the outside edge. It’s just like a track –  you run on the inside lane for the least distance. Especially on a hill. But maybe that’s just me.

On the bridge, my friend got some good pictures. It really is pretty once you get past the climb, but oh man…

The Iconic Bridge

I refilled my bottle around the halfway point, adding 1 1/2 tablets of Nuun. So far I was hanging on to a 2 hour pace. Then the hills kicked my butt. On the last steep hill I couldn’t hang with my fast friend, but I kept running. I took my coach’s suggestion that if the weather was too much, slow and just have fun. When I crested the top, she came back to me. “You’re not getting rid of me,” she said. She ran alongside me, chatting and making sure I was good. I took a couple of short walk breaks, mostly to keep from throwing up. I can tell when the heat/humidity has gotten to me when I feel like puking. I also don’t think it’s worth it to puke in a race. That’s not fun to me. So we slowed down and focused on other things. We saw a few runners down surrounded by medical/runners in the last couple of miles, and we would exchange concerned looks. That always gets to me, because I think about them and hope they’re okay. After the race, my friend told us she kept looking back at me to make sure I still had some color in my face.

We made it to the last bridge and began the descent down to the finish. I do love the way they run the course through to finish. Spectators cheering on both sides, a nice downhill, Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, and then the last turn. I didn’t have any gas left in the tank, but I pushed through and we finished together.

Then I got my chocolate milk!

Side note: Chocolate milk is my number one choice for recovery after a long or hard workout. More on the benefits of chocolate milk for recovery can be found here: https://builtwithchocolatemilk.com/science/workout-recovery

 

Even though I didn’t hit my time goal, I still had lots of fun with my friends. Finish time was 2:06, which was the same as last year. It’s a tough course, but I did feel like a stronger runner this year. I just need to get my body to cooperate in the humidity. The finish on Reunion Lawn is a great place for a post-race party.

So, what is next?

After training for marathons from August through February, then RNR half in March, and a half coming up in two weeks…I’m actually ready to cut back and run some fast races: 5ks, 10ks, even a sprint triathlon. I’m also working on some other things to get ready for fall. I’m not losing sight of my big goals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Showdown Half 2017

This past Saturday, I ran the Showdown Half. I sure could’ve used the cold front that blew in Sunday morning on Saturday, because it was sunny and warm. Not my ideal running conditions, but I made the best of it.

There was a group of us that rode to the race together, and that made the race so much more fun. My running friend, her mom (who was doing the 5k), and two others from our running group.

Starting temp was 68 degrees, and of course the humidity was high. The sun shone bright the entire race, but at least there were a few shady places to help out.

My friend and I started between the 2:00 and 2:05 pace groups, and I had my goals in mind. We hadn’t adjusted our training at all for the race. Marathon is the goal. But I was hoping to get back under 2 hours again. Last year on this course I ran a 1:53, and the year before it was 1:54. Of course those were on cooler days. My goals for this year were A) 1:55 B) sub 2 hours or C) fastest half this year.

I was rolling along with around a 1:58 pace until mile 10. That’s when the heat and hills took over. I honestly forgot about the hills. I knew they were there, I just didn’t plan for them. My mile splits went from around 9:00s to 9:30s, and then mile 13 was just painful. My breathing sounded like the last mile of a 5k, and I think this was just due to the heat. I was trying to keep my foot on the gas, but as I came around and spotted the finish, I realized I had no gas left in the tank. There was no fast finish for this race!

I ended up with 2:03:30, so it was my fastest half all year – barely. I’m going to have to be okay with that, because I just don’t know if I could have done any better. I didn’t slow that much in the last four miles, until the last mile when I lost a minute, but it was enough to knock me out of a sub 2:00. But I look at the elevation chart on Strava, and I can tell where it got me. It was hot, it was hilly, it was a half marathon race in the middle of marathon training. At least I had chocolate milk at the finish!

I had such a good time with my friends too, and one of them even set a PR!

Now it’s back to the training plan! I’ve got a marathon to get ready for. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Halfway to Dallas!

This past Sunday marked the halfway point of my 20 week training for Dallas Marathon. It really is going fast. Now that the long runs are getting longer (and the midweek runs are pretty darn early) it helps immensely having someone to run with. I know I mentioned that we are doing the Simple Marathon Training plan, but I don’t know if I talked much about the ancillary work that goes with it.

A couple of things have been different about this training:

1. Running by feel.

2. LMLS and SAM work.

Running by feel has taken a little getting used to. Most of the runs are done by minutes, not miles. Easy runs have no prescribed pace. So it’s been a little bit of an adjustment, but I’m learning to not look at my Garmin so much and enjoy the run more. These are the times I’ve focused more on conversations with my running friend.

The LMLS (lunge matrix, leg swings) and SAM (strength and mobility) work are a part of every run day. This is definitely new. LMLS is done right before every run (about 5 minutes of work), and SAM immediately follows every run. You can find the videos here. When I first started doing this routine, I did have some soreness. I really started on this part about a year ago, but wasn’t faithful with it. When we started with week one, we committed to do this part of the training. The yoga mat stays in the trunk of the car, and it’s a regular part of the morning routine. I can see where it’s paying off.

Last week, our 10th week of consistent LMLS and SAM work, we had two pretty intense runs.

On Tuesday, we ran Yasso 800s. Nine of them! I was excited about nailing that workout, and I didn’t get the jelly leg feeling I usually do after a hard track session. But the biggest surprise was the next day for the easy run, I didn’t feel beat up like I expected to after speed work. It wasn’t a short run the next day either – a little over 6 miles. I would say maybe I didn’t run hard enough for the 800s, but I know that was not the case! Of course I celebrated chocolate milk day on Wednesday after that 6 miles!

 

Then on Saturday, we ran our first 20 miler of the season. It was a beautiful morning!

I wanted to try to keep my mile splits all under 10:00, and for the most part I did. I think there were two that were just over 10:00. It was kind of rough for the last few miles as the sun started to zap my energy, but it was nice pounding out the remainder of that long run with my friend after the rest of our group peeled off. I ended up with a 9:47 average and just a few stops for water, etc.

I struggled through the SAM work afterward, and then went through my usual recovery routine once I got home (chocolate milk, compression socks, grocery shopping…) Other than being really tired and thirsty all day, I felt pretty good. I did wake up in the middle of night with some stiffness, but once I was up on Sunday morning I just dealt with some mild soreness. I did some pool walking that afternoon while my daughter worked on some stuff at the gym.

I really encourage you to check out the videos and try it out. It’s a good way to add strength to your training without taking an entire day/workout to get it done.

We have several more long runs in the 18-22 mile range in the next couple of months, and Showdown half on October 14th.

I’m excited to see how this plan plays out. I’m working from where I am, and that’s all I can do. 🙂

 

 

 

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.