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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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!

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!

 

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. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Upcoming Races

Since I have a race coming up Saturday, I thought I’d write a post about my upcoming races, and my plan for the next several months.

Saturday, I’m running my only half marathon for this marathon training cycle I’m in. It’ll be Showdown in Fairview, and I’ve done it for a couple of years now. I’m looking forward to it for a few reasons. I’m going to the race with friends. I’ll be using my half marathon time to help set my marathon goal. Although the temperatures won’t be as cool as I’d like, I’ll at least have a general idea. Also, I know they have chocolate milk at the finish.

The first weekend in December, I’ll be running the half at Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio (with Team Chocolate Milk). This is a fun weekend trip that my friend and I have done the past two years, and it’s kind of a celebration of all our hard work marathon training – by running 13 miles. 🙂

The second weekend in December is the Dallas Marathon.

I’m still working out a few races for January and February, but I’ll probably be running the Hot Chocolate 15k again this year in Dallas. That was a fun race, and it’s early in February.

Then at the end of February, I’ll be running the 40th anniversary of the Cowtown Marathon. This is a great race with all the distances covered over the weekend. 5k, 10k, half, full, ultra. Right now, I’m planning to run the marathon on that Sunday, but I’m considering adding the 5k on Saturday to complete the Cowtown Challenge.

Then in March, I’ll be running the Rock ‘n Roll Dallas half marathon.

That’s what I have so far! Will I see you at any of these races?

How far out do you plan your race calendar?

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. 🙂

 

 

 

UCAN Half Marathon

Things have finally started moving for me in my first phase of building a better runner. The scale is moving down – slowly – but it’s moving. My strength is building, and my run pace is dropping – a little. It’s progress.

Which is part of why I was frustrated with myself at the UCAN half marathon.

But I made a major mistake from the start, and there’s no one to blame but myself. I’m also frustrated that I won’t have another half marathon to measure progress until late June, but the summer heat will slow that one down.

The race was well done, plenty of runners, pacers, and a mostly flat course through parks in McKinney. They had UCAN available before the race, and I had a backup GU if I needed it. I also carried my Nuun.

My first mistake was to line up behind the 2:00 pacers – and then try to stay with them! I did my Racing Weight 10k check earlier in the week, and my 10k pace is sitting right around 9:00 right now. Tack on temperatures in the 70s, and 85% humidity, and that was a rookie mistake I shouldn’t have made. The smart thing would have been to start out slower, and then steadily speed up.

The humidity was awful, and there wasn’t much of a breeze in the first few miles. If the humidity hadn’t been so unbearable, I would’ve enjoyed the scenery more. I started taking walk breaks in mile 6, and my race just went to pot (in my oxygen deprived state).

I’ve always held the opinion that I would rather walk in a race before throwing up, and that’s where I was. I had salt residue on my skin even with the Nuun, so I began dumping water over my head at aid stations. I tried to stay positive. I waved and called out to other runners I knew on the course, and I chatted with other runners around me. There were some out and back places which helped. I waited on the rain that was supposed to come but never did. The sun came out and heated it up more. My sunglasses were in the car. 😦

Then I finished

 

– and this is how I felt.

I found out later that my time (2:17 something) didn’t even show up on the results, but I didn’t care too much. I sent an email to the race director but it’s not that big of a deal.

I was upset, but after reading other posts on Instagram and Facebook, I started to feel a little better. I just need to realize that humidity does me in. Every time. FYI: This is not how your mile splits should look.

On a positive note, the race was well done. The medals were huge! The pacers were great. Free race photos! They just needed some chocolate milk for recovery. Fortunately there was a QT right down the road.

 

My next race will be a 10k on Memorial Day. What a great way to start a week off right!