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.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio 2017

What a fast, fun weekend I had running Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio.  My friend and I went together for the third year in a row to run the half marathon. This is one of my Chocolate Milk sponsored races, and it’s a fun way to cap off  marathon training – using a race as the last long run before Dallas Marathon. No worries about weather or time goals, but just to have fun.

We left Saturday morning, and made a stop in Austin to see my daughter. She works at a pizza place right off campus, and it was perfect timing for lunch.

The weather was beautiful (80 degrees!) and there were a lot of people out. For dinner, we managed to get in to Joe’s Crab Shack without a wait, but when we left there were a lot of people waiting. The Riverwalk is so pretty with all the Christmas decorations and lights. We walked over to the Alamo to see a little more of the city at night.

Then just like two party animals, we went back to the hotel and were asleep before 10 pm.

Race morning was foggy and humid. I know if I’m standing in the corral in a tank and I’m comfortable, it’s not a great sign.

We found our friends from our running group!

Then we made our way to our corral. I really wanted to run under 2 hours, because I hadn’t been able to do that this year. I knew it may be harder with the warmer weather, but I didn’t want to leave all my goals for the marathon. So I tucked that in my head as my A goal, and just decided to see how it went. The first mile was slower than I wanted, but it was so crowded. We were weaving around people just trying to get a good pace. It’s hard to do that solo. It’s even harder trying to keep up with another person. Somehow we stayed together for about 5 miles, but Leda would pull ahead, and then I’d get stuck trying to get around someone, and surge to try to catch up. We have an agreement that if one of us feels good, we will go on. I didn’t want to hold her back because her training has been going so well. I looked at my Garmin, and decided I was okay at that pace, and told her to go on. I could see her just ahead of me for the next mile, and then the rain started. At first it was a light rain, and the next thing I knew it was dripping off of my visor and I was soaked. On the positive side, it was just what I needed to cool me off. I think it saved my race.

I focused on even splits and effort for the next few miles. Then I can upon the Wear Blue: Run to Remember section. There was a gallery of photos on each side of the road of service members we’ve lost. So many lives lost. Where the photos stopped, a line of people in blue shirts on each side of the road picked up. Each person was  holding an American flag and cheering – louldy – for the runners. This is the point of the race where I completely lost myself and became emotional as everyone cheered the runners, waving their flags. It was probably a half a mile of people lined along both sides of the road, and I choked up. I was doing good not to lose it completely.

After a short little climb, I settled back into my pace, weaving around people when necessary. There were some slick spots to watch out for from the rain. I slowed down running over a metal drainage grid that was slippery, and a dirty flat road altered my pace as well. Near mile 10, I spotted my friend up ahead and focused on trying to catch her. I had been watching my splits (and doing math) so I knew I was running steady. There was a little monster of a climb about mile 10.5 and just after the top of that hill, I called out to her. When I caught up with her she was struggling a little. I told her, “We are right at two hours.” She stayed with me, and I picked up the pace a little. As close as I was, I was not going to let that 2 hour goal go! Don’t take your feet off of the coals. I wasn’t running at full race pace for a half, but I was pushing to get that goal. The last two miles, which were slightly downhill, ended up being the fastest with both of them around 8:40. It was also the only time of the race I wasn’t weaving around people and could run straight down the road.

My official finish time was 1:59:40. It was close, but I made it. Correction, we made it. We finished within one second of each other. Both of us had run our fastest half of the year.

I got my chocolate milk at the finish. It was so good!

…and we really did have a lot of fun. The only bad part about it was all the weaving through people for so much of the race. My Garmin distance actually showed 13.42 which is higher than it usually is for a half marathon. So I did run faster than 2 hours, but reaching a goal is such a great feeling nonetheless.

Now, it’s on to the Dallas Marathon this weekend. I’m running the 5k Saturday, and the full marathon Sunday as part of the weekend series. The weather looks promising so far! I’m working on my mental game this week, and trying to get as much rest as I can with band concerts and basketball practices.

Have a great weekend everyone, and if you see me in Dallas please say hi!

 

Some Long Runs

The past month has been a blur of Friday night football games with late night pickups, Saturday marching band contests, and the first few swim meets. Oh, and there were a few really long runs to get ready for Dallas Marathon thrown in there too.

Training has been different this year, since we usually have at least 1-2 others with us for the long run, and that’s a good thing. We had some cold weather the day of the 20 miler.

Even Chloe was happy we turned on the heater at home.

On the week we ran 22, we had several others with us for most of the run. It wasn’t very cold that day.

This past Saturday my friend was out of town for Rock ‘n Roll Las Vegas, so I was hoping to have some company for most of the 18 miler. It turned out that almost everyone was out of town or somewhere else that day. We had a small group and more guys than girls, and they were faster than me. After mile 3, I was flying solo. Fortunately, my husband came out on his bike to keep me company. He joined me around mile 5, and stayed with me to the end, not once complaining about riding a slow 6-6.5 mph. It was nice having that time together, because this is the point of the training cycle when I feel selfish. No matter how hard I try, my Saturdays are consumed by running when the mileage ranges from 18-22. Not only am I running until almost lunch time, but I’m too wiped out in the evening to be much fun. Especially after a Friday night football game. This past week, I was asleep by 9 pm! Having that time together on the road was nice.

I was pretty happy with my pace for the run too. It was my fastest 18 miler of the cycle (out of the 3 I’ve done), but my quads were sore the next day. But now we start backing the long runs down. Less than 4 weeks to race day!

 

 

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. 🙂