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!

 

 

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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?

Marathon Training, An Announcement, and a 10K

I can’t believe it’s been this long since I’ve updated my blog. A lot has happened in my running world, and there’s so much to tell you! I’ll do my best to catch up without turning this post into a book.

I just finished up week four of training for the Dallas Marathon. I’m using the Simple Marathon Training book by Jay Johnson. My friend and I decided we would do this together, which makes it so much better. It’s a 20 week plan, which I haven’t done one that long since my first marathon, but I like the way the training is laid out. The day training started, I was finishing up my last day of camp in Glorieta, New Mexico with our youth. The cooler temperatures (55-60 degrees) and low humidity in the mornings were amazing for running, the 7500 feet of elevation and hills – not so much.

Then Texas welcomed me back with its wonderful high humidity and temperatures.

The training has been going well so far, with one hard workout during the week and the long run being the hardest parts of the week. The rest of the running is done at an easy pace. I’ve been working on slowing down my easy runs, and I think by meeting my friend each day that is helping me. I run a little bit faster pace than she does, so it allows me to slow down as we chat the miles away. School started this week, so the early mornings have become just a tad earlier. My main focus this year is sleep and nutrition. I figure the running part takes care of itself, because I don’t struggle with consistency or getting my miles done. It’s the discipline in the kitchen and getting to bed early enough. If I don’t gain back the five pounds I lost over the spring and summer, I’ll be happy with that.

Somewhere in the midst of my marathon training, I found out some good news. I’m going to be an ambassador for the Cowtown Marathon for their 40th anniversary. I’ve run this race every year since 2013 and I’m excited about this opportunity! Expect to hear more about this race that’s coming up in February.

This past Saturday, the training had a 5k race on the schedule. It worked out perfectly because there’s a local race I’ve done every year since I started running. The United Way Hustle for Health 5k/10k was my first 5k in 2010. The past several years, I’ve opted to do the challenging 10k instead of the 5k. The purpose of the 5k race on week four was to get an estimate with a race calculator for my race goal. I figured a hilly 10k in August would be even more accurate, since I tend to run the shorter distances faster. 🙂 There was a good sized group from our running group with a mixture of 5 and 10k runners. Also, two of my kids ran the 5k together. To me, racing is much more fun when you know other people there.

I wasn’t sure what to expect on my time. The race didn’t start until 8:30, so it was warm. My goal was to run the first half by effort, second half (which is the flat and fast 5k course) faster, and run under 55 minutes. I hit the first mile split in 8:24 and the second in 8:13. Oops. Usually when I run this race, I don’t really start pushing until the turnaround of the second 5k. When I came to that point though, I was feeling the heat from the sun. At every water stop after the first half, I would sip a little and pour the rest of the water over my head. Normally I just stop once in a 10k. According to my Garmin data, it was 81 degrees and 79% humidity, and the sun was blazing. No wonder I felt hot. I got a little nauseous in the last mile so I didn’t drop my pace like I wanted to. It was slowest mile (8:50), and I focused on not throwing up. My husband was riding alongside me for the last couple of miles which helped. There is a nice little downhill right before the finish line so I was able to finish fast with a time of 54:18 and an age group win. I’m satisfied with my effort.

My kids ran together. My daughter wanted to encourage my son who hasn’t run much lately. She told him if he finished under a certain time, she would take him for ice cream. He missed it by a little over a minute. But he has a goal for the next race in September.

 

Our group had a great turnout, and this isn’t everyone. Almost all of us placed in our age group in either the 5 or 10k. 

The race certainly energized my training, and next month we have another local 5k race. I’m not sure how I’ll work it into my training, but I’ll get it done.

 

 

BMW Dallas Marathon

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Yes, Christmas, but it’s also that time of year for the Dallas Marathon. While my Facebook feed is full of people sharing Christmas memories, mine pops up with marathon memories.

I’ve been running the Dallas Marathon every year since 2010 (minus the ice storm of 2013) when I ran my first half. My first full marathon was Dallas in 2011 and I’ve registered for the full every year after. The race experience continues to improve, and this year was the best so far.

As I started my taper week, I had all kinds of stuff going on. Let’s just say it wasn’t the most relaxing race week. I didn’t really have the time I wanted to focus on rest, recovery, and preparing my mind for Sunday. But in a way, I wondered if it was beneficial that I didn’t have time to over-think and wonder if I was prepared. Basically I didn’t have a chance to worry.

We planned our trip to the expo on Saturday when the elite ambassadors would be on the speaker stage. I enjoyed this last year, and carried their advice through the race with me. I wanted that again.

I got my bib signed by Desi, Deena, and Ryan Hall. I met Deena and Desi last year, but this was the first time I’ve met Ryan Hall.

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To me, that made the 16 weeks of early mornings and long runs totally worth it. I also knew they would be handing out medals at the finish line, and that became one of my race goals since I was oblivious the last two years. I love that they are so willing to give of their time to the running community!

I snapped a picture of my Dallas Marathon history.

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I ended up missing lunch, but I made an early dinner when we got home. I never really felt bloated from too many carbs, but I felt like I was loaded and ready to run 26.2.

Race day weather was perfect for me. Temps in the 50s with a little wind. My husband and I got there early with time to chill in the convention center, then I met up with my friend in the start corral.

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We ran the first five miles together, and then I moved into race pace. My plan was to run the first 5 miles in the 9:20 range, then bump up to race pace (9:05-9:10). She’s been battling foot pain, so her plan was to finish. I felt good. It was overcast and there was a little bit of a mist to keep us cool.

I felt like I was holding back in the first five miles (which was a good thing) but at mile 10 all of a sudden my legs felt heavy. I took in my fuel about half a mile earlier than planned, and it seemed to help some. Then I was doing okay holding onto my pace, but it felt harder than it should’ve. My hydration was fine, my nutrition was fine, but my legs felt like I had on ankle weights.

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My pace started to fall off when I was running by the lake (miles 16-17). There was a crosswind and I got a little chilled, but it didn’t last long.  At mile 19, I made a quick porta-potty stop. I lost my sub 4:00 goal, and was losing my 2nd goal – to PR. I negotiated a third goal in my head, and then a fourth. I walked, I ran, I walked, and I ran. In the last four miles – straight into the wind – the goal became to finish the best I could and still be proud of my race. My legs were shuffling and so very heavy. The distance on my Garmin was almost a half a mile off from the mile markers. I finally stopped looking at the watch. I ran the entire last mile, and I felt like I was barely moving.

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Positive Splits (you’re doing it wrong)

When I was coming down to finish, I saw one of my Team Chocolate Milk members waving to me. That was encouraging, and so was seeing the announcer at the finish line.

This is my blazing fast finish (10:45 pace) captured by my husband.

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I spotted volunteers handing out medals, and then saw Ryan Hall. I waited behind two people to get my medal from him. Then I saw Leo Manzano handing out medals too. That experience was worth the pain of the race, and gave me a positive outlook for my finish. That was also my final race goal – to get my medal from an elite runner. 🙂

I am so grateful for all the volunteers, police officers, and spectators – and especially seeing those who cheered specifically for me. Thank you Jennifer and your pool noodle! 🙂 It made an unpleasant run much better.

 

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Team Chocolate Milk!

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I am so thankful to Dallas Marathon for a great race experience! It truly was a great weekend. There will be another race, and I’ll get that sub 4!

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Marathon Recovery and Cookies

For the past two weeks, post Dallas Marathon, I put a concerted effort on recovery. In some ways this was harder than I expected it to be, but getting ready for Christmas helped out in keeping me busy.

The plan was to take an entire week off from running after the marathon. I made it to Saturday. My friend and I decided to show up for the group run because we were craving the company. A nice five miler was enough to get it out of my system. I spent Sunday at the pool, and then eased back into running a few days last week. I also swam a few more times. The swimming was a good way for me to feel like I was doing something, without taxing my legs.

The week of Christmas the weather was nuts here. My runs were done in warm, humid temps. One was a little too fast (because my legs told me so later in the day).

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Then cookie baking on Christmas Eve. What happens when I’m too tired from baking to finish rolling dough and cutting out cookies? My 17 and 12 year old take over, and we get gems like this:

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Then the group run again on Saturday where I was the slowest one there and tried to keep up. I didn’t run as many miles as I planned, but my legs still got a good workout.

 

We later spent the day at my parents’ house, then drove through a few tornado warnings on our way home. That was scary, but it brought a weather shift.

Sunday was rainy and cold – and we had water coming in the crawl space in our house, so we were running the pump on and off, all day and night. I took this time inside to finish planning out my goals for the first half of 2016 and I’m excited about what’s coming.

This week, I was ready to get back to training. A combination of rest and too many cookies ups the motivation a bit. On Monday morning, I started with the treadmill because of the cold and rain. By the time I got done, we had snow. Texas.

I hope everyone had a good Christmas, and will have a safe and happy New Year. I’m looking forward to connecting with you in 2016.

 

 

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Dallas Marathon 2015

The Dallas Marathon is my most anticipated race each year. It was my first half marathon in 2010 and my first full marathon in 2011. I have always said “I love the race, but it doesn’t love me back” because I’ve had kind of a rough run with it. (Unintentional pun)

For my first full, the weather was cold, windy, and rained the entire time. Then 2012 was warm and humid, 2013 iced out, and 2014 didn’t have the best weather conditions either (along with all of my other problems that day).

Needless to say, my standards this year weren’t set too high. I hoped for decent weather, and planned to run with my friend (who I talked into running her first marathon in Dallas). My goals became to run faster than last year and have fun. I still was hoping for the sub 4 hour race, but truthfully knew everything would have to go right for that to happen. But my friend and I talked about running together because that would help both of us pull through.

But first, let me talk about the expo because that was a big part of my weekend. Dallas has done a great job the past two years by bringing in elite ambassadors and adding some interest to the race itself with relay challenges. So on Saturday, we timed it to be at the stage for the introduction of the elites and then they gave some advice for the runners for race day.

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So much speed in one place!

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Desi!

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Deena! (My role model as a master’s runner.)

 

I soaked  it all in (foreshadowing), spoke to Josh Cox and Molly Huddle to thank them for being there, and got a couple of autographs on my bib. I was nervous being around so much running greatness. I wanted to meet Ryan Hall, but that line was longer, so maybe another time. I do love that in this sport, the elite runners that I’ve met are approachable and genuine. This totally made my weekend, no matter how the race turned out for me.

Storms moved in Saturday evening and overnight, so when I drove to Dallas early Sunday morning, it was in the rain. Of course. Thankfully there was no lightning and the wind wasn’t too bad. The temps had dropped though to low 50s with a forecasted high of 60. At least that part was manageable, and much improved from the oppressive humidity Saturday morning for my shakeout run.

I hung out in my friend’s hotel room for a bit, then we made the five minute walk to the start corral. Dallas has three start corrals – A, B, and C. We were in B, and lined up between the 9:15 and 9:30 pace. I’m always surprised by how fast time goes by in the corral! Before I knew it, the National Anthem was over and we were moving toward the start line.

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Rain, rain, go away.

I soon realized we should have started at the front of the corral. We both talked about how we needed to make sure we held back in the first few miles. I’ve got a history of going out too fast. There was no problem in holding back because I felt like it was bottlenecked for about five or six miles, but didn’t want to use energy trying to weave around people. The first mile pace was just under 10:00. We picked up the pace gradually and by the end of mile 5, we were averaging 9:30s which is where we stayed until just before mile 13.

At this point my friend started to fall back. I checked on her a couple of times and she finally told me to go ahead. She wasn’t feeling great. We had worked this out beforehand, that if one of us struggled the other one would go on. But I still worried about her and second guessed leaving her side. We had put in so many miles together that it didn’t seem right to keep on, but I also knew that if I was the one struggling I would want her to go on. So that’s what I did, but I said prayers for her along the way.

I noticed the breeze had cooled the humidity and the temperature felt good. I tried to pick up the pace, but the hills kept me grounded. I ended up averaging 9:25 from 10-15, and 9:33 from 16-20. At mile 19, it became harder to hold the pace down in the 9:30s. From that point on it became a fight to stay in the game. I saw the banner that I signed at the expo, and looked down at my Road ID that contains same message: Hebrews 12:1 Run With Endurance.

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I started counting down the miles from my Garmin (which was a half a mile over already). Each one that ticked off meant I was closer. I remembered what Meb said at the expo about his phrase “Run to win” which means getting the best out of yourself. I checked to see if I was doing my best, and the answer remained yes every time. I surged when I could and willed my legs to go faster. At mile 23, I felt like I was flying. I looked down at my pace – 10:05. Oh, well, at least I felt like I was flying. I repeated “I can do hard things. I’ve done this before.” My lower back started to ache. I would count down the minutes with phrases like “Only 25 more minutes, I can keep doing this for 25 minutes.” I used every self-talk positive phrase I could think of to get my through those last 6 miles, and didn’t let my pace frustrate me. I continued to smile (which may have looked like a grimace at that stage), thanked the volunteers, thanked the police officers, and tried to encourage other runners as I continued. I stayed hydrated with Nuun and I fueled just like I trained. As I came to mile 26, I started to get emotional. Coming through the finisher chute, the tears started. I felt like a winner because I had run strong, and finished the race giving my all. There were no walk breaks, no talking myself out of my goals, or making excuses. As the announcer was calling out the finishers just ahead of the finish line, he gave me a high five and said “Way to go, Team Chocolate Milk.” Then I crossed the line.

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I saw Meb giving out medals, but he was busy getting photos with people too. I looked around but didn’t see any of the other elite ambassadors. I got all my goodies and moved to where I could check my friend’s tracking. I pulled my phone out and dropped a gel. I stood there staring at it on the ground, and another runner came over to pick it up for me. I thanked her and said, “I was trying to decide if it was worth it” because I couldn’t bend my knees.

I saw my friend’s finish on the tracker and went to find her. There was a hug and more tears! We had both done what we set out to do. She finished her first marathon in about the time she expected to. I ran a strong for me race.

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Meeting up with a fellow Team Chocolate member is always fun!

Meeting up with a fellow Team Chocolate Milk member is always fun!

I broke my curse. This was my fastest Dallas race by almost 15 minutes, with a fairly consistent pace. The weather turned out perfect for me because I never overheated. But the fact that I was able to run the entire course gives me hope for my future goals, and a return to my speed two years ago.

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My mind is whirring with the possibilities of what’s next! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Long Runs and a 10k (McKinney Believe)

Going into the last month of training for the Dallas Marathon, I had mixed emotions. On some days, I felt like my training was right on – hitting the paces and feeling the mileage, but recovering well. Other days, I was frustrated that I’ve moved “backward” in my speed. I would wonder if my fastest days were two years ago, and if I would ever get close. I know not to rush things though, so I’ve been moving along following the paces to run a four hour marathon.

During peak week, I had planned to run a 22 mile long run. Yes, I know that’s long. But I also know that my body does best when it knows what to expect on race day. 16 mile long runs don’t mesh well with my body – as I learned a year ago.

The wind that day was terrible, and it was cold. Several miles into my run – right before I met up with the group – I received a text from my husband who was still at work. He was going to be a few hours later than planned. That meant that if the heating company called (we were waiting on a part) to come repair our unit, then I would need to be at the house. That call came in right as I hit mile 14. They said they could be there in 10 minutes, and I asked for 15. I was a mile from the car, so I ran a fast mile back and got home just as they pulled up.

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An hour later we had heat, which was a necessity because it would drop below freezing for the first time of the season. Yes, winter finally arrived to North Texas.

When he finished, I had just enough time to knock out two more miles before I needed to get my daughter to the track for a physical assessment (for something she’s applied for).

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I managed to squeeze in three more at the track. My total for the day was 20 over the span of 5 hours, but it’s okay because I’m giving myself some slack this year. Besides, it’s still time on my feet so it’s not wasted.

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Side note: My daughter is a swimmer. She doesn’t really like to run, partly due to allergies. Allergies in north Texas are the worst – so I’ve heard. I’ve run with her a couple of times to make sure she knew the pace she needed to be able to do. Remember, the wind was still awful. The sun was out but it was cold. She started her first lap wearing my headband and jacket, and by the end of the fourth, they were gone. Later, she tweeted this.

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I’m so proud of her! This was a hard thing for her to do and she did it well.

Thanksgiving day, I was ready for my last hard, long run. This was also my way to ease into taper. The plan was 16-18 with 12 miles at race pace (9:09). My running friend and I agreed to meet, and we had another runner friend show up to run with us. This was the confidence boost I needed after the split long run the week before. She pushed me, and I managed to get 12 at a 9:04 pace, and I was pleased with the overall pace.

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My husband was around some too on his bike, so the miles went by faster than expected.

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My legs were shot the rest of the day though, but it was also due to the amount of time I spent in the kitchen. Overall, it was a good day. Running, family time, food. What more could I ask for?

 

Well, how about a great race to keep up that confidence building?

The rain that started Thursday afternoon and didn’t stop until Monday night. By Friday afternoon, we began keeping watch under the house and running the pump to keep the downstairs from flooding. It wouldn’t stop raining. All that evening, we would set the timer for 30 minutes then go turn on the pump until all the water was out, then set the timer again. It wouldn’t stop coming down. All this rain – crazy! Around 10:00, I crashed and my husband took over. I got up around 2 am and took the next few hours until I left for the race. To be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to a cold, rainy 10k on little sleep. It was like having a baby in the house again getting up so much. But my friend and I were going together and misery loves company right?

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I had run this race before in 2010 and 2011 – the 5k – and it was the first race I realized I might possibly be competitive in my age group. I decided to go back to it this year and run the 10k. Thankfully, the 10k started before the 5k, but they also had to change the route due to flooding. So we ran the 5k route twice. Double the hills, double the fun!

I didn’t start my watch early enough, so for the first mile and a half, it was searching my location. I was running by effort, and I couldn’t feel my toes. Yet, I warmed up quickly and had my jacket off and tied around my waist. Not the most fashionable look, but it was nasty weather and I didn’t care.

I did like sharing the route with the 5k, because I was able to see two others from our local running group on the course.

When my GPS finally started working, I managed to keep my pace in the 8:10-8:15 range. I felt strong and I was beginning to feel my toes again. The rain had mostly stopped, or slowed to a slight mist. I aimed for a strong even finish which was uphill. Why? But my legs hung in there.

I know there were less participants this year because a lot of people opted to stay out of the weather. Still, I was surprised to find my name on the results sheet as the Female Master’s winner with my time of 52:02. It certainly wasn’t my fastest! But it was a good, solid, consistently paced run.

…and another block added to my mental building.

This race kicked off a trifecta of race weekends. I’ll be at Rock n Roll San Antonio this weekend for Team Chocolate Milk, and then next week is the Dallas Marathon.

Thanks for putting up with my lengthy post. I think I’m mostly caught up now. 🙂