What’s Next?

We took my son to a Mavs game a couple of months ago, and had the world’s most obnoxious fan sitting behind us. At one point, she hollered at the ref (like he could hear her from our seats), “What are you? Stupid?” Then she yelled out “S-T-O-O-P-I-D.” My 13 year-old swung his head around and mouthed “she can’t even spell stupid.”

When I think about my next endeavor, that phrase runs through my brain.

Here’s how I got there:

Part of my post Houston race meltdown meant I needed to shift my focus. I’ve been chasing that BQ goal for several years, and I’m coming up short of where I want to be. My journey will continue though. Since my race schedule was wide open after Cowtown, I felt a little lost on what to do next. I made a list of what things I needed to work on, to continue to improve in the marathon specifically. But honestly, it’s easier for me to get out of bed to train when I have races on the calendar. I guess that’s why it seems like I’m always training for a race.

A friend of mine suggested the Danman Challenge. It’s close – maybe an hour’s drive from my home – and it’s free. That’s perfect for this frugal runner. It would also help take my focus off the numbers (paces) for a bit, while I could do keep doing what I love to do – run a lot. The drawback: the distance is a jump from the marathon to 50 miles. It is definitely a new challenge. No fanfare. No medals. Just testing my limits on going the distance – and that seems to be the point of Danman.

I’ve kept it kind of quiet on social media, without really putting out there what I’m planning. Admittedly, there’s a fear of falling short. I’ve never run more than a marathon, and here I’m going to attempt twice the distance – on a trail setting. I’ve been winging the training. Long runs on the roads on Saturdays, long runs on trails on Sundays. Lots and lots of miles. I treated Cowtown as a hard training week, and was running the week after. I don’t know if it’s enough, but I fit in what I could while keeping the household running.

One of my running friends recently asked me what I was training for next, and my answer was “I’m training for stupid.”

But on a serious note, I’m going into this challenge with the mindset that I’m going to complete 50 miles. If I don’t, I’ve already given myself permission to quit when it gets tough.

I’ll come out on the other side either all in for ultra distances, or I’ll be happy to step back to the marathon. I’m sure I’ll find out a lot about myself.

Here’s to being S-T-O-O-P-I-D. 😉

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Cowtown Marathon 2019

Unlike the Houston Marathon post, my Cowtown recap has been a slow go just because of all the activity we’ve had and that I’ve inflicted upon myself.

I have a lot to write about, and I really had a great time running the Cowtown again this year. (***foreshadowing***)

I had the chance again this year to participate as a Cowtown Ambassador, and was grateful for the opportunity. I do love this race for so many reasons, and I think it’s a must do especially if you live in the North Texas area.

I started my race weekend on Friday at the expo, handing out race shirts.

You would not believe how hard it can be to pull those little tabs off the bibs. 🙂

Since I took care of the expo that Friday, that meant I could focus on rest and relaxation on Saturday. My energy was a little high though. I kept wanting to clean, but I forced myself to stay off my feet as much as possible. Tough job, but I managed it well.

Sunday morning, very early, my friend and I headed to Fort Worth. We would meet others from our group at the race. Some were running the half, and some the full marathon. The weather was perfect – for me! Chilly enough to need a jacket beforehand, but it would warm up enough to run in a tank and shorts.

I just settled into a comfortable pace from the start. No time goal, but I wanted it to be better than Houston. My miles ticked off in the range of 9:00-9:30s. I felt good. I felt strong running up the hills – even the one in mile 9!

Tackling the hill on the Main Street bridge

My first 10 minute mile was at the halfway point, to refill my bottle. I was cruising along. It was sunny, but not hot, and I was comfortable. Around mile 17, though, I passed a makeshift aid station – you know where the people who live in the neighborhoods cheer and hand out stuff. I spotted a table with a tub of Vaseline and shouted out “God bless you” as I ran over to it. They all laughed. It was a necessary stop. My arms hadn’t been in a tank top in a while, and it was starting to get painful. It may have cost me some time, but it saved my skin!

I got back on pace, and at mile 20 I was still holding my miles around the 10 minute pace, and I felt good. Such a contrast to how I felt in Houston when I was slogging through 11 minute miles after mile 10. Then the hills got me. Those last 4 miles of Cowtown whoop me every time. Those hills are tough! But I continued to smile and focus on getting it done. A walk break near the end of mile 22 and a dash into a porta-potty cost me a little bit of time, but then it was into the park for the final miles. Then my favorite part – the finish!

 

I accomplished three time goals at Cowtown:

  1. Faster than Houston (on a tougher course)
  2. Faster than last year’s Cowtown (I may be a year older, but I’m not slowing down)
  3. Under 4:30

A close look at my last several marathons shows steady, small improvements each time. They’re not big chunks of time, but it’s progress. I’m not giving up!

 

My 19th Marathon

Hanging with friends after the race

3 year medal series – complete.

 

 

 

The Colony Half Marathon

This past Saturday, I ran The Colony Half. It was my first time running this race, and my first half marathon since the Bluebonnet Half in April. I talked some of my running friends into doing it with me, because races are more fun with friends. We weren’t disappointed.

My training has been going okay for the last couple of months, but between the heat and humidity, then loads of rain, plus band and football, I just felt blah on race week. Some of that was probably hormonal too, but I can’t avoid that.

Still, I was excited to go to the race with my friends, and was able to meet up with my coach Tim, and another team member of RunRelated, Julie, who were also running. 

Due to the huge amounts of rainfall in the couple of weeks prior to the race, parts of the course were flooded from the lake. For a while, it looked like we all might be running the 5 miler. But they were able to approve an alternate course the week before, so 13.1 miles was still the plan!

My game plan, and my coach’s, was to hang around 9 minute pace through mile 7, and then pick it up based on how I felt. He knew I felt blah going into the race. It could have partly been nerves too, due to the length of time since my last half. I’ve always been “half ready” since I started running. But with the foot injury, and then the triathlon training for off-season, I just didn’t have a lot of long runs. That was a good mental and physical break through the summer, it just made me nervous for Saturday.

The weather was great! Cool temperatures at the start (mid to upper 50s). The sun was coming up and we were ready to run!

I stuck to the plan of 9 minute miles, and was feeling pretty good. Then around mile 5, my stomach started talking to me. This is the point where I realized my nutrition mistakes from the day before. If there is a potluck at work the day before a race, just don’t. Trust me! At this point, I was ahead of the 2 hour pace group, and I knew that if I stopped, I should still be able to run under 2:00. I found the porta potty just before mile 7 and darted in. I’m not like Shalane, so I had a little more time to make up when I got back to the course. 😉

I recovered my pace for mile 8, and was back on track. Then I needed to refill my bottle. Between that and the incline before the turnaround, my pace started to slip. I was behind the 2 hour group. Then my stomach started grumbling again, and I knew I was going to stop again. Since the course was a partial out and back, I knew right where to go. Unfortunately, I got there right as someone went in, and lost even more time. Goodbye sub 2.

I don’t know if I was defeated by my tummy issues, mad that I didn’t do a better job eating the day before, or if the sun was starting to get to me, but miles 11 & 12 were a struggle. I would walk for 10-15 seconds, then pick up and run. I did that a few times, playing tag with the 2:05 pacers. Finally for the last mile, I was able to settle into a pace that was comfortable to run the whole time without feeling sick.

As I came back into the park, I saw my coach who ran (okay it was a jog for him) alongside me for a minute, with a little pep talk telling me to finish strong. I did my best, but after I crossed the finish I needed to walk to feel a little better.

The only part I didn’t like about the course was that it went almost to the finish line, but then you had to go out and back around a loop. I was ready to be done and that didn’t help.  But I did finish just ahead of the 2:05 group with an official time of 2:04:55.

Advantage of having a fast friend – free running pics 🙂

 

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Splits

I reminded myself it was a tune-up race. I need to practice and learn from my mistakes. I needed the reminder that my nutrition before, during, and after the race is all so important. So now I’m back on track in that area.

I still had fun though, even with all of that. And nothing beats hanging out with friends after a race.

Next up, I have Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio half with Team Chocolate Milk, as Houston Marathon training continues!

Bluebonnet Half and Training

When I can find a great deal on a close to me race, my frugal self is going to try to do it & drag some of my running friends along with me. That race was the Bluebonnet Half in McKinney.

I also wanted to squeeze in another half before the weather got too warm to see how I’d do. Since it’s still been basically winter the two Saturdays prior, I was hoping we’d have cooler race day temperatures.

I wasn’t disappointed.

Four of us went to the race together. We’ve been putting in some miles together for early morning runs, and I so enjoy those times together. It makes such a difference in getting up early for a run knowing you have others waiting on you to get there. My favorite workout in the last couple of weeks was one morning we met at a high school track. We were able to do our own workout/pace, and still be together. One mom even brought her son who was getting ready for a local 5k! I couldn’t get any of my kids up that early for a  run.

Race day was cool and breezy, and the sun was out. It looked like the rain would hold off. We were prepared for it if it did though. I wore clothes that I thought would do better in a downpour. It didn’t turn out to be the most flattering option, but at least I wouldn’t have chafing issues.

Didn’t see the guy behind us until later…His face cracks me up.

My motto was “no excuses” and I was ready to run a sub 2 hour half. The course was fairly flat, and I was familiar with most of the route from previous races. We started off with half a lap around the track, then out to a concrete paved path that would wind through some of McKinney’s parks.

I kept my pace around 9:00 for each mile. Whenever we turned into the wind, it actually felt pretty good, but a couple of times I almost lost my visor. I was listening to music for the first time in a race in years, and I think the distraction helped with the monotony of the miles. I was hanging with the 2 hr pacers, but I kept track of my splits on my Garmin to run my own race.

I stopped somewhere along mile 9 to refill my bottle. I had gone as long as I could, knowing that when I stopped my plantar fasciitis might make it hard to start up again.

Have you ever had plantar fasciitis? It’s the only running injury I’ve ever had in almost 8 years of running. 3 years ago in my right foot, and now in my left.

I was able to get going again and almost made up for my stop, but somewhere in mile 10 my left heel was done with the concrete. It was so painful, at one time I felt like my heel would split open. I backed way off the pace, moved off the concrete to run in the grass, walked a little, cried a little, and tried to keep moving. Because that’s where the finish was.

As disappointed as I was watching my sub 2 disappear, I was more worried about the pain. I can be stubborn, but I knew enough to back off rather than risk further damage. This was not a goal race. I’ve heard that the fascia can rupture, and that just sounds awful. Thankfully, the pain subsided enough where I was able to run the last mile. Then the course led back up to the track to the finish. I may be one of the few runners who was happy to run around the track. Soft surface!

My finish time was 2:05:19. Not too bad considering the time I lost in the last 4 miles. I was surprised to check the results and see that I was 2nd in my age group. I tried to make that my positive outcome from the race, even though it felt slow for an age group medal. But it just goes to show you, you never know who will show up.

Overall, it was a well done race: organized, inexpensive, nice shirt and medal, and good snacks. I haven’t been disappointed in any of the Get Racing events I’ve done. The only thing missing was bluebonnets. But there were plenty of dandelions on the course. 😉

I also enjoyed my morning with my running friends.

 

Now, I’m actually ready to take a break from long races. I need my foot to get better, lose a few pounds (as evidenced by my race pics), and build some strength. I’m doing a sprint triathlon in June, so there will be more swimming and biking. My coach will figure out the training, and I’ll get it done.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hot Chocolate 15k 2018

This past Saturday, I ran my second Hot Chocolate 15k in Dallas. I regretted not running it last year, but I had cut back on my races for several reasons. This year so many of my friends were going, I wasn’t going to miss it! So I made sure I registered early to get the most for my money.

The only drawback to running a 15k race three weeks before Cowtown, was how to get the long run done. My coach gave me two options, since this was the 20 miler week. We decided to do the Saturday race and a Sunday long/tempo run to simulate the running on fatigued legs.

More on that later.

The weather was great on Saturday, temperature wise. It was a little on the windy side, but the sun was out and that helped. My friends from my running group made fun of me in my shorts. I had brought my capris just in case, but with temperatures in the 40s I knew shorts were best for me even with the wind.

We warmed up – leg swings, lunges – and made our way to the corral. When the race started, I smiled as we all spaced out into our individual speeds. I could see a couple of my friends ahead of me, but I was not going to try to stay with them. I was following my coach’s advice of running a smart race. 9.3 miles is a long way to go if you blow it all in the first half. Plus, there were hills coming.

I did feel like I was holding back for about the first three miles. I kept a check on my pace periodically, but didn’t obsessively check my Garmin. I ran the first mile in 8:42 and that felt good. I went into my usual mode of thanking volunteers and officers (so many police officers) and I was happy to hear so many other runners around me thanking them as well. Grateful is the best attitude to have when running. The race had Nuun on course, but I was carrying my bottle with Lime Energy so I wouldn’t need to stop.

I focused on effort going up the hills, while trying to keep my pace under 9:00. I knew I wasn’t going to PR, because that’s not where I am in my journey, but I wanted to run a strong, solid race and gauge progress. By mile 7, I was so glad I was almost done. It’s funny how 2 miles seems like a short way now.

I would check distance on my watch, but rarely look at the pace. I was in all out effort mode. Somewhere in the last mile, we made a turn into the wind and went up a nice big hill. Then it became all about the chocolate.

I told myself “don’t step off the coals now!”  I had set a time goal of under 1:23:00 and it looked like I was going to make it! I powered up the big hill, made a turn, and another turn, and then I was crossing the finish!

I was excited with my time, but mostly because I knew I ran hard and didn’t give up on myself. I said I was done settling, and this race helped solidify that mindset.

Of course my Garmin had a faster pace because of the 9.44 distance…

 

I heard my name, and was looking around for the friends I knew finished before me, but it was Leda who finished just seconds behind me. She ran a slower beginning and negative split her second half. She almost caught me!

Then I saw Chris (fellow Cowtown ambassador) at the finish. He set a pretty great PR!

All of us from our group finished within a few minutes of each other, so we headed over to get our finisher mugs, and enjoyed the treats while we recapped the race. That was a lot of fun, and the chocolate was worth that final push up the hill.

And since there’s a big marathon coming up at the end of this month, I ran 10 miles on Sunday with some marathon pace in the second half. Once I got a few miles in, the soreness from the 15k worked itself out, and I felt decent. Tired, but manageable.

I feel like I’m in a much better place this year mentally and physically, than I was a year ago when my running legs went MIA.  Cowtown weekend is in just two weeks, and it’s going to be great!

Kicking off 2018 and Some Cowtown Training

It’s been a while since I updated my blog, and I wanted to do a year end post like have in the past. But honestly, I was kind of frustrated with my 2017 year of running. I spent the first half of the year trying to figure out why my “speed” was missing, and working to bring it back. The second half of the year was almost all training for the Dallas Marathon. My biggest win of the year (in my mind) was getting Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio under 2 hours. But at least I felt like I didn’t lose any more ground. My shorter distance times are mostly the same they were a year ago, and that’s okay. On a positive note, I replaced the battery in my scale the week after Dallas and I had lost 3 pounds! That never happens while marathon training, and I really think it was the SAM (strength and mobility) work done as part of the Simple Marathon Training. I am definitely keeping that up.

After Dallas, I took a bit of recovery time, and then it was time to get to work for Cowtown.

I won an Instagram contest for a free month of coaching from RunRelated. Hiring a coach is something I’ve talked about with my husband for a while, so this was a great opportunity to see how it would go. I decided to continue with my coach after my month was up, because what I’ve been doing isn’t working for me anymore. It’s nice not worrying about what workout to do, or what the long run should be. I just check the schedule and go do it.

The major challenge for Cowtown training lately though has been winter.  We have had so many below freezing days this year in Texas. I did a track workout in 16 degrees one morning, and was surprised when the buff I used to cover my mouth and nose came off in a frozen block. My Nuun bottle also froze! Rookie. Lesson learned. On a positive note though, I nailed those 800s! 🙂

Then on January 13, I ran my coldest race to date. It was the Resolution Run half marathon in McKinney. A smaller race to give me a little motivation to start my year. My goal was to run under two hours again, because this will be the year of the sub 2 half marathons. The temperature on race morning was below freezing and it was windy which brought real feel temps into the teens. Brrr! We hung out in the car as long as we could, because the start was right by the parking. Love small races! I wore two long sleeve tops under a jacket, my long pants, CEP knee high socks, my buff, fleece headband, fleece mittens and hand warmers. I have never worn so much gear!

It was an out and back course, and I felt good starting off so the first few miles were a little faster than they should’ve been. Plus we were running into the wind. Dang it. But I did begin to warm up, and started to remove gear when we turned out of the wind. The buff went in one pants pocket, hand warmers in the other. I even took my mittens off for a bit and considered ditching my jacket at a water stop. I met another one of the Cowtown race ambassadors during the race, and we all ran together for a few miles chatting about Cowtown. That was fun.We were behind the 2 hour pace group, and I kept them in my sights planning to catch them in the final miles.

Then we made the turn around to come back, and I was glad I didn’t ditch my jacket. I was doing good to hold onto my pace, keeping my miles right around 9:00.

The plan was to run as hard as I could for the last 5k, but I couldn’t find another gear. I stopped looking at my pace and focused on catching the next person in front of me. I tried to reel in the pace group. They weren’t getting farther away, so I knew I was at least on target. Also, there were a couple of floaters (pacers) who were running along encouraging us at different points. It was nice to have someone alongside me telling me to keep it up, because it was getting hard. At one point I was seriously ready to chunk my heart rate monitor in the grass. It felt tight around my chest, even though it wasn’t. I was so glad to see that finish line, because I was ready to get out of the cold!

 

I met my time goal – barely. But I am okay with that, because I was probably carrying about 10 lbs of gear that I don’t normally run with. Plus, when I took my jacket off to put on dry clothes, my layers were soaked in sweat.

 

Last week’s training wasn’t any warmer. The temperatures hit the point that I had to go shopping for better gear. I went to TJ Maxx and found some fleece lined tights to wear under my pants, and a warmer fleece lined jacket that wasn’t bulky. I got to try it out at the track on Wednesday, and it was a better layering combo than what I wore in the race. I would rather run outside if I can. For the amount of money I spent, I won’t be too mad if I only wear them a couple of times a year. 🙂

Thankfully for Saturday’s long run, temps were in the 50s. I was in shorts and short sleeves, and my visor! I was happy, because I’m just over sub-freezing weather. I felt so much lighter without all that extra clothing, and the sun was out! My legs felt good, and even though my stomach didn’t quite cooperate, I had a good day.

This week is a recovery week, and I’m going to take advantage of the extra rest. Recovery weeks are my favorite!

Quick question: What’s the coldest race you’ve ever run? Do you try to train outside when the temperature drops?