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…

 

Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio 2019

I know this post is a little late, but December got away from me with all the races, band concerts, and Christmas to dos. But I want to give each race its due, so expect to see some “catch up” posts in the next few weeks.

Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio is a favorite trip that my friend and I take each year. It’s a nice little quick getaway, and I get to represent Team Chocolate Milk.

This year had a little different feel to it, because we both had a lot of stuff going on. I had some stress and lack of sleep because of life stuff, and her new position at work is taking a lot of her time. So we decided we were going to just enjoy the break and relax. And by relax, I mean run 13.1 miles. 🙂

We left for San Antonio early Saturday morning, and made our way to the expo first for packet pick up and some shopping.

I think you can see how tired I am!

 

 

We decided to eat an early dinner before checking in to the hotel, because the line was pretty long. We found a new to us Italian restaurant on the Riverwalk, and it was so early, there was no wait. Then we hit up CVS for some snacks and headed back to the hotel.

It’s kind of funny, because this is the first year we haven’t really explored the Riverwalk or the Alamo area on foot. We were just worn out, so after checking in to the hotel, I kicked my feet up to rest and she worked on her computer for her job. I had one of those times when I was so exhausted that I just couldn’t sleep. But I was happy to just be still after the week I had.

The weather on race morning was a little cool, but humid. Tank top is pretty much a given in San Antonio.

We walked out of our hotel to the start corrals – 5 minutes tops. That has been one of my favorite things about where we stay each year.

Start Corral

For my longest run since the Fort Worth Marathon in November, my plan was to start conservatively and negative split to finish strong. I wasn’t sure if I could pull a sub 2 hour half, but the plan to finish strong would help me take my mind off of the time and put it on the effort. The course had changed from previous years, no running by the Alamo this year, and I think they stuck in more hills. What is it with Rock ‘n Roll Races and hills. Dallas, San Diego, San Antonio…just from my experience. But thankfully, I’ve been tackling hill repeats with one of my running friends lately, so I was prepared. What I was not prepared for was the Wear Blue: Run to Remember mile. Again, crying while running is hard. If you’re not familiar with this, my friend captured a picture of part of it. Basically it’s photos of service members we’ve lost, lined up on both sides of the road for a quarter to a half a mile. The picture also has their age and rank. As a wife of a Navy veteran, and mom to a soon to be Naval Officer, I didn’t make it through this section with getting choked up. When the pictures stop, then you have people on both sides of the road holding flags and cheering for you as you continue to climb the hill. Some of them are in uniform, some in the wb:r2r shirts. This section of the race means so much to me.

I continued to keep an even effort, not draining my energy on the uphills. My pace ranged from 9:05-9:20 for most of the miles. My plan to negative split the second half didn’t pan out, but I tried to not lose any ground. Then at mile 11, on the way up another (final) hill, I dashed into a porta potty, and lost some time. I came out and walked for a few seconds up the hill, my heart rate was so high, and then I rallied my strength to finish. Only when I crossed the finish and stopped my Garmin, did I look at my total time – 2:06:42 (official). I’ll admit I was a little disappointed with my overall time, but I sat down near a tree with my water bottle to catch my breath and evaluate the race. My heart rate had been high for most of the race. I was tired. I was under a lot of stress with factors out of my control. It was my longest run since early November. It was humid. By looking at it this way, I actually felt pretty accomplished completing the race.

I headed to the chocolate milk tent to start my post race recovery. You can read all about the science here: https://builtwithchocolatemilk.com/science/workout-recovery

Time to Recover!

 

It’s important to remember that I do this because I enjoy it. Not every race is going to be an outstanding time. Sometimes my body isn’t on board. But I enjoyed my trip, time spent with my friend, and running through San Antonio. I will celebrate my half marathon finish, and keep doing what I love. 🙂

Fort Worth Marathon

“Tell me about your worst marathon.”

It was an effort to take the focus off of how I felt, and to also know that I’m not alone in having bad races.

I was running my 20th marathon this past Sunday, and having another bad day. It feels like it’s becoming more of the norm the past few years, somewhat of a streak: not having the result on race day of what I’m capable of running, of what I’ve trained for.

There have been races where I knew exactly what went wrong. Dallas 2012 – too hot and humid, and I didn’t adjust my goal. Houston 2015 – plantar fasciitis. Dallas 2017 – warmed up too fast. Days I went out too fast, days my nutrition was off, etc, etc…Same song and dance, different day.

But I didn’t have any of that this year. In fact,  I still can’t pinpoint the issue from Sunday. I kind of felt the same in Houston in January.

So here’s my recap of the Fort Worth Marathon: the good, the bad, and everything in between.

RACE WEEK

I found out earlier in the week that one of my running friends, who originally was going to run the 20 miler, signed up for the marathon. She said we were running together. My first thought was that I didn’t want to hold her back. She’s a lot faster than me. In fact, I’ve set my 5k and 10k PRs chasing her in local races. The more I thought about it though, the more I realized I would do the same thing. So my plan for race day was not to look at my Garmin and let her lead the way. I told her my goal times for the race, and I wanted to start off slower. My A goal was 4:20 or better, B goal was to beat my Cowtown time from February (4:29), and my C goal was to finish with a smile.

We didn’t have a lot of kid activities during the week, so I was able to take time to relax and enjoy no concession stand duty, games, or swim meets. I was able to go to bed early every night except Friday. It was a nice calm week compared to what we’ve had the past few months. I ate most of my meals at home where I could control what went into my food. The only exception was lunch on Saturday when we ate out. I pulled my gear together early Saturday evening, and went to bed early.

RACE DAY

I felt okay race morning when I got up. Not great, but okay. I wasn’t too nervous, but I was ready to run. My friend and I drove down that morning and picked up our packets. Small race perk! For my previous marathons, I’ve only done four different races (Dallas, Cowtown, Houston, OKC). This was a new one for me, and I decided to do it because I’d heard good things about it. My friend had run the half and the 20 miler in previous years.

Race Ready

The temperature was 50 degrees and there was a slight breeze. I had hoped for a little cooler weather, but it was manageable. We met up at the start with a couple of other runners from our group, but once we started they were gone. We’d see them a couple other times throughout and wave. For the marathon, the course was out and back, 2 laps.

The first few miles we settled into a rhythm. I didn’t feel like we were going too fast, but I remember saying that my legs hadn’t joined the party yet. I don’t know if it was the concrete trail or what. Finally around mile 7 or 8, I felt like I had a little spring in my step, but it didn’t last long. We made the turn at the halfway point (lap 1) and I said, “I just feel flat.” Our half time was somewhere around 2:10. I should have been perfectly fine. I had just paced a 2:10 in October and felt wonderful running at that pace.

We took a couple of walk breaks, and I kept apologizing. I felt so bad. I tried to convince her to go on without me and she wasn’t having it. She said “No, we’re running together.” In later miles, when I felt worse, we would pick markers along the trail to take walk breaks. Anytime I could go past those markers it felt like a little victory. I asked her about her worst marathon, and then talked about mine (which wasn’t even this race). Then we talked about our best races, our favorite ones for whatever reason, and how it’s so hard fitting in marathons when we both run better with cooler weather. We saw other runners struggling, and tried to encourage those around us. At a couple of the aid stations we had the best orange slices and some Coke. Oh, and the volunteers were so great!

At mile marker 23, she said “Ok, just a 5k” and while it sounded short, I knew it wasn’t going to be quick. At mile 24, I was so ready to be done, but unable to run as much as I wanted to. I looked down at my Garmin which I had set on the time of day. I was pushing the 5 hr mark if I slowed down any more. After mile 25, I switched over to distance. My watch had been beeping the splits just before the mile markers so I knew I was pretty close. We had 16 minutes to make it 1.2 miles. It was going to be close at the rate I had been going. There were a few first time marathoners around us, and I put my energy into cheering them on. “You’re awesome! Almost there.” Did you know it’s only acceptable to say you’re almost there in a marathon in the last half mile? I think that taking the focus off of myself helped me get through the last bit. I was able to run most of the last mile, which was probably the fastest one of the second half. We finished with a strong push for the last .2. Then I stopped my Garmin and dashed behind a fence where I almost threw up. Thankfully I didn’t and avoided that embarrassment. We had made it under 5 hours.

We finished just in time to get our numbers in for the prize drawings. I thought it was pretty cool that they do cash drawings for each race distance. How cool to win $1000 just for finishing a marathon! They also did cash prizes for the half and 20 mile races as well as other gifts.

We didn’t win, but I did get this great medal/belt buckle for finishing!

My friend and I learned a lot more about each other along the way too. She got to see a different side of me through the race. Thankfully, I never made it to the cussing stage. 😉

On the drive home after the race, we had already started planning the next one. Hers for a BQ, mine to have a better day.

 

There will be a next time for me, because I’m a bit of a stubborn runner. The thing is, I know I can run a smart, faster marathon.

Because I have!

So I’m not giving up. It’s there. Somewhere.