Peak Week and a 5k

Last week I finished up my peak week of training for the Dallas Marathon. While the workouts weren’t outstanding, I feel like my training has been consistent and productive so far. The main thing I’ve noticed in the past few weeks, is that I’m not totally exhausted like I usually am. I think I’m doing a better job at rest and recovery. Mostly¬†because I don’t have a high school student this year I’ve been able to get to bed earlier, but I’m also making it a point to nap some on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

The main struggle for me with last week’s training was being able to complete my long run without too much disruption. There was a 5k that I planned to do with my kids on Saturday. We’ve been run/walking together at least once a week for a mile and a half. I’ve considered those “runs” as the gravy on my training, but it is also what pushed me over 50 miles/week for the second time this training cycle. After discussing with my husband about how to get that 22 mile long run in, he suggested to do 19 miles before and then finish with the 5k. So¬†I had a plan.

Thankfully, I have a great running friend willing to meet at 5 am on a Saturday to knock out as many miles as possible. And it was a cold one! For the first time, temperatures dropped in the high 30s, but I was ready. I do love a good cold run.

Love watching the sun rise during a run!

Love watching the sun rise during a run!

We ran until we met up with the group at 7:00 (and some of them gave me grief for wearing shorts), and I ran until it was time for me to get home to pick up the kids for the race. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get all my miles in, and the chance of getting any after the 5k were slim. When I headed home I had 17 done so far.

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No time goal, just getting in the miles.

After getting the kids to the race site (less than a mile away), I left them in the car to stay warm and I had time to get 2 more miles in. This actually worked well because never really cooled off¬†before the start of the 5k. My husband showed up on his bike to ride along the course and encourage them. When the 5k started, my daughter¬†shot off and I had a hard time keeping up, but my son stayed with me. I knew we would catch her when she needed a walk break. When we caught up to her, I told my son he could go on and run his own race. I would stay with Abby. The race followed the same course that several of the local 5ks use, and I like that it’s an out and back course so I could cheer on others I knew. I was able to see my son on his way back, and my husband was near him on his bike.

I’m really proud of how my kids did on Saturday. Abby knocked off 2 minutes from her fastest 5k, and my son took off 4 minutes. Even though we haven’t run more than a mile and a half at a time since the last 5k, I think the consistency (and cooler weather) paid off for them. After we finished, they told me and my husband we needed to go celebrate their PRs because “that’s what runners do.”

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Another bonus: I got my 22 miles done without feeling beat up. Peak week was all about time on my feet – and I got it done. This week’s plan is to get a solid 12 at marathon pace for my long run.

 

 

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Hustle for Health Reprise

Just over a week ago, I ran the United Way Hustle for Health 10k, and two of my kids did the 5k. This was my first standalone 10k since this race last year, but the outcome was much different this time around. I do this race every year, because it was my first 5k (2010) and that was the first time they held the race.¬†I love that it’s local, and have fun racing¬†with others from my running group and community. I did the 5k for a few years, then moved up to the 10k.

On race morning, we headed downtown and got ready to run. I have been running separately with my oldest daughter and my youngest son to prepare them for the race. They each had their own race goal. My daughter had been preparing for the physical fitness part of the Navy ROTC program, and my son wanted to run a faster 5k. I had to let him know the heat would slow him down some and not to get discouraged.

Photo Credit: Hustle for Health & Campaing Kickoff United Way of Grayson County (Facebook page)

Photo Credit: Hustle for Health & Campaign Kickoff United Way of Grayson County (Facebook page)

We started the race and went our separate ways.

What’s interesting about the 10k, is that it is basically two separate parts. A hilly, challenging first half, and the second half follows the 5k course which is flat. You can’t run it like a typical 10k, because you may blow all your energy in the hills on the first half and have nothing left to finish with. That was my mistake last year since I had not done much speed work with distance. This year I was prepared. I even ran some of the hills a few times in the weeks before to make sure I could handle the pace (which was easy because it’s in my neighborhood).

My friend and I were running together for most of the first half. I looked at the first two splits and tried not to get concerned (8:28, 8:16) but I had been running around 9 minute miles for training, and I felt good. There was cloud cover, it was humid, and low 80s, but no sun baking us. Coming into the 5k course (which is out and back), I started looking for my kids. I spotted my daughter first at a water stop where she doused me with the contents of her cup. I was starting to heat up, and that felt great. Not long after that, I saw my son. My husband was out on his bike, riding along the course encouraging him. He was smiling and I got a high five. Miles 4 and 5 were my slowest, but I picked up the pace to finish. The final mile was my second fastest.

I finished with an official time of 53:07, and though it wasn’t my¬†fastest, I feel like I’m in a good place going into marathon training. I was surprised to see that I was the second female finisher and the master’s winner. Small race perks.¬†My friend won the female grandmaster’s.

I posted this picture to our running group page, with tips about finding a good running partner.

1. Find someone who pushes and challenges you to be a better runner.

2. Make sure they’re in another age group.

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The kids did well too. I had to talk to my son about how his place in the age group does not matter. He was two minutes off of what he ran in March. In his age group, there are 14 yr old cross country runners. I put the focus on him working to improve his race times, and not on what others are doing. My goal is to instill in him a joy of running and pushing himself to improve. One of my favorite things about running is that the responsibility is on the runner.

My daughter came away from the race better prepared for the Navy fitness requirements. She may have not liked running with me much, but I hope she’ll find an appreciation of me pushing her in training. I am proud of both of them.

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The little one wanted a week off from running after the race, which worked out well because we moved his sister into the dorm last week.

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Now our house is emptier, so I’m going to pour myself into my training to keep from emotional eating.

School started Monday¬†as did my marathon training. My son and I went out for a mile run on Tuesday evening. He was energized and ready to run. The new running clothes helped too. It’s a reminder of how little breaks and rewards can recharge us when we need it.

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Buffalo Springs 70.3 (Part 2 Bike and Run)

If you missed my last post about the start of my Half Ironman at Buffalo Springs, you can catch up on it here. The next part of the race was the longest and required some mental effort. I apologize in advance for being long-winded. I love to write and I love to give details. Double whammy here.

To sum up where I left off, I had completed the swim not knowing how long it took me, and made it to the bike with people still behind me. I was feeling pretty good.

THE BIKE:

I had a nice mental boost from seeing my husband and brother right off the bat,¬†then¬†I passed where we parked and¬†the downhill was followed immediately by another climb. This one got to me. I was breathing heavy, focusing on my turnover when a guy passed me and said “Easier gear.” The guy right behind him said “You have two more.” I acknowledged with “Thanks” and shifted – twice. I was calm and ready to tackle the ride. Once I completed that hill, I knew I had a while before the next one.

The weather was cooperating so far with a cloudy sky and low winds. It was a nice day for a bike ride.

As I moved forward into¬†the second major climb, I saw the athletes¬†coming down and it didn’t seem as scary as it had in the car. This was the one that curved around with a¬†guardrail that bordered¬†a cliff. The downhill that kept me awake half the night. The one I was most worried about. But focusing on my climb, I noticed some riders walking their bikes up the hill. I focused my legs on a steady cadence and stayed in my seat all the way up. I honestly could’ve run a flat road faster than my speed climbing,¬†but I got it done. My motto all throughout the ride became “the tortoise always wins.” I repeated it out loud as needed. I focused on my race, my speed, and my skills. After the turnaround when I began descending, I kept my confidence in place and braked all the way down. “That wasn’t so bad.” I knew that if I made it through that one, I’d be okay for the others. The next big climb had a sign “Spiral Staircase.” This one was steeper but there were no big drop-offs. I saw people walking their bikes up again. It definitely hurt going up, but again I focused on a steady climb. A straightway for several miles, and then a turn around right into the wind. Coming back down the Spiral Staircase was a little faster than the other hill, and scary in a roller coaster thrill way. Oh thank goodness it was a low wind day,¬†because the rest of the ride I fought the wind one direction or another. I¬†couldn’t get my average pace above¬†14.0. Even with the downhills.

By mile 50, the wind had taken its toll on my legs. They were done and I wanted to be off the bike. The sun had come out about 2 hours into the ride, and I was on my last bottle of Nuun. I was getting thirsty so I tried to ration the rest of my drink. I didn’t want to stop before I finished the bike. My bike was moving¬†slower than I estimated, and since I didn’t know my swim time, I hated¬†to push the time limits. Looking back, I should have had more chews on the bike instead of the extra Clif bar I never ate. At mile 55, I audibly groaned¬†“Oh no!” as I began to climb the final hill in the park before the downhill to transition. It was a straight up hill.

I crested the top, rode past our car and began the descent. Then I saw my oldest daughter¬†right as she turned around and saw me. She began to cheer, and I saw all the other kids, my brother, and my husband. They all began cheering so loud, people were turning to see who was coming. I felt like a superstar! I made the final turn and when I hit the dismount line, the volunteer said “Coming in smiling. That’s a good sign.”

“Yes, because I’m done,” I said.

The tortoise always wins.

Here’s some of the data from my Garmin. Ignore the elevation gain, because it’s not correct. It’s actually just over 1000′ of gain, but I wanted to show¬†the hills on the graph!

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Side note: I can’t say enough about how wonderful it was having my family cheer coming in off of the bike. I needed that lift going into the next part of the race.

THE RUN:

Coming off the bike, I was surprised my legs didn’t feel more wobbly. My first mile I stayed busy trying to make sure I was headed in the right direction, and I didn’t pay attention to my pacing. I knew the run was two loops so when I saw the first mile marker I relaxed a bit. Not paying attention to my pace was a mistake. The first mile averaged 9:30. In the second mile, I slowed to grab a cold towel at the aid station. My second mile pace was in the 10:30s. Then I guess you could say my wheels fell off. (Good thing this wasn’t on the bike. Ha!) The third mile started the walk breaks and I had an 11:30 average pace for that mile. Oops!

My legs were fine. It was my breathing I was struggling with. I was getting hot, and somewhat nauseated at the thought of taking in my chews. I tried a couple of them after the third mile, and kind of gagged a little while chewing. I took in some more around mile 5 and had the same problem. This is the same stuff I trained with, but my body wasn’t handling it at this point. Ever since before the swim, I had felt like my food was sitting at the back of my throat. I handled it ok on the bike, but the jostling from the run made it worse.

With¬†this kind of trouble on the run with the heat, I quickly shifted my plan to run/walk/smile. I walked through almost every aid station. Wet cold towels, ice in my visor, and taking in¬†Gatorade to get the carbs. My stomach did okay with that and I still had my Nuun in my bottle along with some Nuun Plus. As I came across the bridge to finish my first loop, I saw my husband. I called out, “You know that 2 1/2 hour half marathon I planned? Not gonna happen.” But I was okay with it. I was the tortoise. As he ran alongside me for a minute, I told him about being too hot, and my nutrition problems. My legs were still okay, but my effort felt hard even staying around a 12 minute pace.

The second lap was even tougher. The crowd had thinned out as most people were done by now, and I still had well over an hour to go. I talked to other runners, and fell into a run/walk pattern with another athlete for a while. We chatted about goals. Mine was to finish. She added, “finish with a smile.” I thanked all the volunteers. They were so uplifting at that point in the race. The ice was wonderful and I would grab handfuls at the aid stations and put it in my hat and down the front of my tri top to stay cool. I walked up the monster hill along with everyone else and noticed one of the hand cyclists rolling up the hill backward to get up. That was a game changer for me. There I was, walking to get through the tough parts of the course with all my limbs functioning, while those guys didn’t have that option. They did¬†the swim, the bike, and the run all with their arms and upper body. It was so inspiring to see him working up that hill, and I know he was tired but he kept going!

I began to feel a little energized in the last mile. Two of my kids ran alongside me for a couple of minutes. They told me they had been swimming in the lake. Then I saw my other daughter, then my husband, then my brother, then his wife and kids were near the finish line. I felt like I was flying at that point. According to my Garmin, it was my third fastest mile. I made the final turn and saw the finish line, crying and smiling at the same time. I heard the announcer call out my name, and just like that I had a medal on my neck and a finisher shirt in my hand.

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The finisher shirt was an XL, and I tried to exchange it for a smaller size. Then I found out when you’re near¬†the back of the pack, you don’t have much¬†to choose from. I could have XL or XXL.

My husband has a new shirt to wear.

That evening, I finally saw¬†what my swim time was and it completely surprised me. Overall, I expected I would finish in about 7.5 hours, and I wasn’t too far off the mark. I was surprised at how the run knocked me out, but my goals were to finish.¬†I was the tortoise, and that was quite all right with me.

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A Tale of Two Bike Rides (and a run)

I’m taking advantage of my recovery week to catch up on my blog posting and other things around the home. The training started to take a toll on me last week, and was evident when I took¬†my son’s Spider-Man towel to the pool. The dirty laundry was overflowing a bit and paperwork threatened to cover the kitchen counter.

This is week 8 of 16, and what I thought would be my biggest challenge of half Ironman training is turning out to be different from what I expected. I thought the hardest part would be in cutting back on¬†running. ¬†With only three runs a week, I thought I would miss it more. Actually, I have so much to work on with my weaknesses (swim and bike), I haven’t really had time in my brain to miss those extra runs. Even on Marathon Monday (Boston Marathon day), I was excited to track the runners from my group and I was again inspired to work hard, but it was my rest day and I needed the break.

Especially after a tough bike ride two days before.

As it turns out, I’m not great at cycling and I have a lot to learn. Every Saturday for my long ride, I have been dealing with¬†the wind. But on this day, it wore me out. The route I ride, with a few variations, is out and back. That means if the wind pushes me one direction, I will be fighting it coming back. This day was especially hard, because some of the gusts and crosswinds made me wonder if I’d end up in the ditch if I took one hand off for a drink. Needless to say, I didn’t fuel enough either. In the last five miles, I tried to be positive. I tried to be excited about the new distance, but I wanted to cry because it was¬†hard. It reminded me of when I trained for my first marathon, and with each new distance I was proud for pushing on, past the point of doubt and pain. I could feel the tension in my neck and shoulders as I finished up my ride,¬†just from controlling the bike. When I pulled into my driveway, I stopped and¬†straddled my bike with my head down. Glad it was done; feeling stronger than I did before.

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40 miles done.

You can tell where the wind beat me up on my bike splits.

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The next week, my plan had¬†a 45 mile ride followed by a 15 minute run and I wasn’t looking forward to it. I tend to get nervous before my long ride every week, and I should be over that by now. I easily expected to be out there for almost four hours (including the run). My husband worked on my bike, and I asked him if he could tilt my saddle forward just a tad. I’ve had some pain toward the end of my rides, and I know I need to go get a bike fit. But this would suffice for now. Then I headed out.

I don’t know if it was the weather (calm and sunny), the adjustments to the bike seat, or the smoother shifting that helped, but this ride was nice. My legs were sore for the first couple of miles (after a 5 mile run the night before), but then I settled into the ride and my head for the next few hours. I finished a 45 mile ride in 3:05:44 – average 14.5 mph – only 5 minutes slower than the previous week’s ride of 40 miles. What a difference! I ran inside to my makeshift transition area, and came back out for my 15 minute run. It was hot outside, and I was sweating. But I got it done! I even started some new tan lines from my cycling shorts. ūüôā

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A lot of chocolate milk for recovery all weekend!

My pace was¬†pretty good for the run. It’s such a different feeling going from the bike to the run. I don’t know if you ever get used to it. I’m trying not to think too much about the half marathon I’ll be doing after all the biking (and swimming).

Sunday morning I did¬†my long run of 11 miles. It was so peaceful out – just me and the squirrels. It’s been a while since I’ve run that many miles solo, and it was different.

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But for the remainder of my training, I’m going to move the long run to the afternoon – in the heat. That’s what my Ironman friend told me I need to do. Train when you will race. So my days of cool early morning runs are over, and I’ll be sweating it out in the heat from now on. ¬†Oh yeah!

Now I’m off to try to reduce this laundry pile. Have a great week!

 

 

 

 

70.3 Training: Week One

Last week I started my half Ironman training for Buffalo Springs Lake, and I ventured into uncharted territory.

I have never put¬†my focus completely on training for a¬†triathlon. I use the word “never” like I’ve been doing triathlon for years, but this journey started over a year ago with my first running injury. Cycling was a substitute, then a supplement, and it evolved into triathlon.

When I was trying to pick a plan a few weeks ago, I hit panic mode when I saw the quantity of workouts. They all pretty much follow the same format of three bikes, three swims, three runs weekly. I talked to a friend who assured me I wouldn’t be able to get it all in. “You’re a mom. You just do what you can.” That¬†means I will run the miles scheduled even though I will crave more running. I will pay attention to my body and not push myself to injury point. I will take recovery seriously, and continue to hone my nutrition and eating patterns.

With last week being spring break, I lucked out in being able to get in the groove of training. I actually completed all the workouts. One child was gone from Tuesday through Sunday, and the other two went to visit grandparents from Wednesday through Saturday. So I was able to get my three bikes, three swims, and three runs done – guilt free. Some of those were two-a-days, which I know will not be possible on a weekly basis. None of the workouts were too long or too hard, but the quantity of work began to contribute to some soreness. It’s an adjustment for sure.

On a more positive¬†note, I am eager to see how the increase in swimming and biking will enhance my fitness. Last summer when I trained for my first triathlon, I was surprised to see some definition in my arms and shoulders for the first time in my life. I am also hoping the change in training will help my metabolism and get this marathon weight gain off. It’s been hanging around far too long.

On Sunday, I will be running the Rock ‘n Roll Dallas with Team Chocolate Milk. This is one of my favorite races all year! I’m not going to adjust my triathlon training, so I will be running the half marathon on tired legs. I think that’s good practice for a half Ironman, don’t you?

 

 

 

Band on the Run 5k

After the Cowtown Marathon, I chose to have an unstructured, no stress week of activity. Everyday I set my alarm for my “sleeping in” time – early enough to get everyone up and ready for the day. Two of those days I woke up before the alarm. On Wednesday morning, I did an easy spin on the bike trainer for 30 minutes, and on Thursday I ran a whopping two miles without looking at my pace.

I also started the process of losing the marathon weight gain. Again. At work, I was faced with the temptation of homemade cookies on Tuesday, pizza on Thursday, and donuts on Friday. But I passed by it all without a second glance. I also baked brownies for the pasta dinner on Friday without a taste test. So yay for all those victories!

Our high school’s band program held its second annual pasta dinner and 5k over the weekend, beginning with the pasta dinner on Friday night.¬†I caved a little on my week of stellar eating with a small plate of spaghetti and 2 oatmeal raisin cookies. I did give my son three of the four meatballs on my plate though, but sitting through the performances of 5 different concert bands weakened my resolve against the cookies. That’s what happens when you have one child in the first band, and one playing last. You’re sitting there for a bit.

Normally, I wouldn’t choose to race a 5k one week after a marathon, but this was about raising money and supporting the band – and it was a great way for me to participate. With my feet.

My parents had come up to visit, go to the dinner/concert, run the race, and celebrate my daughter’s birthday (18!). I’m glad the race was close to the house, because it was kind of bonkers getting everyone ready and out the door. I’m so accustomed to just getting myself ready. But we finally made it and with enough time for me to do a little warm up with my friend. My legs felt strange – like I was bouncing almost. I didn’t know what to expect for the race.

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The plan was for me to run my race, then go back and run my kids in. My husband was out on his bike, so he could keep me posted on their progress.

My friend and I ran together for almost all of the race. It was a small race and we started near the front, behind some¬†high school runners. My favorite thing about this course is the familiarity. I knew the route, and the little uphill near the beginning would be a nice payoff at the end. The rest of the course is flat. At the turnaround, there were band members playing familiar “football game” tunes. I saw my two kids at different points and my parents and waved. The kids were smiling which was a good sign. I managed all right¬†up until the third mile, when I ended up with a side stitch. So I’m trying to hold my pace steady while pinching my side to ease the stitch. That’s what I get for trying to go all out. Finally when I hit the downhill, I found my kick and ran through the finish to the sounds of the band playing the fight song for every finisher. The 5k hurt, but I didn’t have time to whine.

 

I grabbed a bottle of water, reset my Garmin, and headed back to run my kids in. It took less than a mile for me to get to my 10 year old son. He was running for 60 seconds, and walking for 10. I ran with him for a minute, before my husband sent me back to find my daughter. This little boy was in good spirits, and he was going to make it just fine.

Then I found my daughter who was red-faced and smiling. She had been walking with my mom for a bit, but then started talking to someone else and fell behind. She was doing great with her plan of running cone to cone, then walking to the next one. When we got to the downhill, I told her to run the rest of the way in and I pulled off to the side. After she finished, one of the moms came up to me and said, “she encouraged me out there.” That makes me so happy.

IMG_7407 IMG_7409The other great thing about small races: age groups are smaller. I actually was the third female to finish, with a time 3 minutes slower than my PR¬†–¬†but the effort was all out. My daughter was 2nd in her age group. My son is in a more competitive group. We had to remind him that he’s the youngest, and there’s a big difference between ages 10 and 14. He did take almost 3 minutes off of his last 5k though! I reminded them that the important thing was they had fun, and this was for the band. We all had a good time, and my husband didn’t have to run so he was happy. I want to continue to foster the no pressure approach to running with my kids, and activities like this help.

 

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It was a fun race, and I hope to see it grow for next year.¬†It also reminded me how much I’ve missed running shorter distances.

 

Do you enjoy racing 5ks? What about small races?

 

 

Cowtown Marathon 2016 – Completing the Set

Sunday I finished off my marathon season at Cowtown (that’s in Fort Worth for you non-Texans). I went into this race with halfhearted goals and expectations. I was tired of long runs and ready to make some changes in my training. My eating had been terrible all week, and I was¬†the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.

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The people running away…that would be my kids on race week.

Even when my dad asked me before the race what my goal was, I shrugged and said “Um, finish?”

Those are not the words of a motivated runner.

My went to pick up my packet on Saturday, and I was hoping to generate some excitement in my brain. I¬†couldn’t find any new gear I wanted, but we had a good day anyway. We only had one child all weekend because the girls had DiscipleNow with church.

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We then had to make a stop at the Lego store so he could spend some of his money.

Sunday started early, but I was happy to meet up with my dad before the race. He was running his second half marathon. Last year at Cowtown was his first. That was the icy year, so he had to come back and do it again. My parents met Jeff Galloway on Friday and talked with him about their run/walk intervals. He got some pointers about changing his timing from 4:1 (minutes) to 30 seconds run, 30 seconds walk.

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I found my running friend and we got ready to sweat it out.

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The start of the race was overcast and windy. The sun stayed behind the clouds and I was grateful. If you’ve never been to Fort Worth, just know there are a few hills. For the half marathon. The full and ultra course have several more hills. There’s a big one at mile 9 that everyone talks about, but we handled those first few hills like champs. Our pace was consistent through the halfway point. We smiled at the signs, thanked the volunteers and police officers, and chatted some. The best parts about having someone with me were the times I wanted to walk but didn’t because she was there. Then the sun came out and started to cook me. I ran out of my Nuun¬†and gels around mile 22, and I needed electrolytes. We walked through the aid stations so I could down some Powerade. The hills were killing us, and the sun too. We settled on finishing and how nice that would feel. The chatting had disappeared and we focused on one mile at a time. I think we were both in tears when we finished. Our finish time was 4:31.

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I was happy to learn that my dad took 8 or 9 minutes off his last year’s time using the 30:30 method. He says he’s done with half marathons though. We’ll see.

My son was really concerned about me. I heard him ask my husband, “Is she okay?” He’s never seen me right after I finish a marathon, especially when it’s warm outside. It takes me a few minutes to pull myself together. Plus, everything hurt from the neck down.

 

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I enjoy a lot about this race. Both of my parents are from Fort Worth, so I’m familiar with the area. I like running through the Stockyards, around TCU, and there are some beautiful neighborhoods. The hills are a bit of a downer though.

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Finished the 3 year medal series!

On the way home from the race, I told my husband I’m done with marathons for a while. I want to focus on getting leaner and faster – then add the distance back. I’m tired of being out there for four and a half hours.

I guess training for a half Ironman will help with that. ūüėČ