RNR Dallas HM – Race Report

After 12 weeks of training, I PR’ed at the RNR Dallas Half Marathon!! My previous PR was from May 2013, so I was feeling the pressure to beat my time. My training was modified from a 16-week FIRST training plan and I signed up for 5 other half marathons as training runs! My training wasn’t perfect– I got sick once, had some ankle pain after one of the races, and had a strained hamstring after doing yoga a day after a race. I might not be a seasoned runner, but I’ve come to expect these types of obstacles!

PRE-RACE: Race start was at 8am, and since Michael had come up with me to Dallas for the race, I was able to sleep in until 7am!  My weather app had predicted 54-55 degrees during the race, so I made this insane last minute decision to switch from the shorts/tank/sleeves to capris/long-sleeve. I apparently forgot about how to dress for a goal race, lol.  Breakfast was half a banana in the car, on the way to the race. Michael dropped me off just in time, a few minutes before the start. We were fortunate to have ideal racing conditions– overcast
and no wind! I kinda had to go to the bathroom, but I figured it could wait. Priorities.

MILES 0-3 (8:40, 8:31, 8:28): I was assigned to Corral 4, so I started less than 5 minutes after gun time. One mile in, I knew I should have stuck with the tank and shorts. I felt warmer than I would have liked and there was no wind. Honestly, the running conditions were ideal! I contemplated taking off my top and pinning the bib to my shorts but decided that it was too much work. I was already losing time weaving through the crowds of runners and didn’t want to eat up more time. I run in Houston all the time in heat, so I should be able to handle it, right? Typically, everyone gets caught up in the excitement of the start of the race and that first mile is a little fast. I clocked in at 8:39 for that first mile, and I was a slightly concerned. It was still early in the race, though, and I usually take about 3 miles to really warm up, so I figured I’d just have to push through and try to maintain a 8:30ish pace.

I managed to stay on point for miles 2-3, and while I felt more comfortable, it was feeling a little tougher than I thought it would. I know it’s a goal race and all, but I had still expected it to feel a little easier than it did, that early in the race! As Michael had reminded me a few days ago, I needed to trust in my training, so I told myself that I was physically prepared and to just try to stay mentally focused.

MILES 4-6 (7:57, 8:25, 8:28): Luckily, there was a good amount of downhill in mile 4, and my pace picked up. Also, Michael joined me shortly after the 5k mark! Well, he ran just a little ahead of me to not throw me off my pace. I’m not exactly sure how long he ran with me– maybe a mile or so? I took my first gel about 43 minutes in, between miles 5-6. Definitely felt like I needed it. By this time, I had noticed that my Garmin distance was about 0.1 more than the actual course, so I had to remember to adjust the time in my head.

MILES 7-9 (8:45, 8:33, 8:20): I refilled my water bottle in mile 7, and thus the drop in pace. Can’t wait to finish and go to the bathroom.

MILES 10-13.1 (8:30, 8:47, 8:15, 8:34, 1:46) By this time, I knew I’d have to go faster than 8:30 miles if I wanted to hit a sub-1:50, and I wasn’t too sure I could manage that– I’d try, of course. I took the second gel in Mile 10, and I believe there was a hill in Mile 11. It really sucks watching your pace drop considerably and doubt creeps into your mind as you imagine that goal time slipping away! I do NOT remember there being so many hills when I ran this last year. On the plus side, a PR was still in sight and I was feeling determined to at least PR. I was briefly confused about what my last PR was. Was it a sub-1:53 or sub 1:52? Could I PR?? Ya know, race brain. Also, I’m thinking that caffeine is not going to help that bathroom situation.

rnrdallas2015Michael jumped in the race again– maybe around this time? I was impressed he was able to find me a second time! And THEN, in Mile 13, there was another cruel, big hill! It was tough and I considered just giving up because it would be so much easier to just walk. Which I did. For 5 seconds. Then, I thought– I’m less than a mile from the finish– I can push through one mile, damnit. Plus, porta-potties at the finish! Is it possible to run and have my legs give up and collapse? No way, right? My legs were feeling tired and I had to really get my breathing  in control to gradually speed up again and get back on pace. I had doubts about whether or not I could even speed up enough, but my pace slowly sped up! I saw Michael again (a third time!) and he yelled, “GO JESSICA!” Despite how tired I felt, I flashed him a smile (or at least I tried to). I REALLY pushed it for a strong finish once I rounded the corner and could see that glorious finish line. There’s nothing like seeing the light at the end of the tunnel to get that extra burst of energy! My watch hit 1:52:00 on the dot as I crossed the finish. PR!! (Where are those porta-potties?)

POST-RACE: According to the Garmin, I ran a 8:27/M pace, but since it also calculated a 13.25 miles, I knew the official pace would be slower than the 8:30/M I was hoping for. Regardless, it was a PR!! I grabbed a water, a medal, and a chocolate milk before exiting the finisher’s shoot. I chugged half the chocolate milk and looked around for Michael. I stretched a little and then spotted him going towards the post-party, not quite in hearing distance. I caught up with him (cool, my legs are still working!) soon after, hit up the porta-potties (THANK GOODNESS! Also, finishing earlier meant that I found a porta-potty that was relatively unused! Wohoo! It’s the small things in life.), and we were outta there. True Food Kitchen for some much-needed caffeine and food. =)

 RNR Dallas Half Marathon
Time: 1:51:55
Pace: 8:33/M
Division (F30-34): 74/889
Gender: 350/5164
Overall: 1164/8486

Houston’s 12k of Christmas Race Report

I was happy to learn that Houston’s 12k of Christmas race course changed this year. Last year, we ran 3 loops through Midtown. Despite being at the peak of marathon training and running with Kristin, the race just felt AWFUL. It was also unusually warm last year. We wore Santa hats and it was definitely too hot for that. This year, the run was 2 loops down Allen Pkwy– still loops, but I don’t mind so much. It does, however, have more “hills”. If you’ve ever run in Houston, you know that it’s completely flat, so the hills are simply bridges or inclines/declines on the road, lol.

I was exceptionally excited for the race because Gloria was running– it would be a distance PR for her. She had run 6 miles a month or so ago, and I told her that if she could do 6, she could do 7.5, for sure. I also agreed to run with her and make sure she would make it to the finish!

I picked up her Saturday morning and we found street parking roughly 2-3 blocks from the Start/Finish.  It was cloudy and 51 degrees to start. Not bad for race weather.

Splits:
9:57
9:41
9:20
9:25
8:50
9:11
8:46

Official time: 1:07:02.9
Pace: 8:59.5/M

Houstons12k2014Negative splits, FTW! We started off a little slow since we were at the back of the crowd to start. We gradually sped up into a comfortable rhythm and I was impressed that Gloria was comfortable with the pace. There was 1 water station that we would run by twice during the race, and we stopped both times for water. Gloria commented that she was getting tired with less than a mile to go. I offered some encouraging words, and we ran together until maybe that last 0.25 miles, when I pulled away to speed up. The Nike app tells me that the last 0.2miles was downhill, and I went between 6:48-7:02 pace, picking up speed for a strong finish. Maybe a little too strong because I thought I was going to throw up right after I crossed the finish, lol. Gloria finished shortly after– so proud of her! I was pleasantly surprised to later find out that I beat my time from last year (1:07:53) by 50 seconds. I also came in 14/63 (last year, 21/97). Definitely not bad considering I went into this with just the goal of making sure Gloria would get to the finish!

In the spirit of Christmas, I wore my knee-high red Yelp socks for the race.  That probably wasn’t the best idea, lol. The thick socks gave me a huge blister! We strolled around the post-race party, picking up a few free items, and left to meet her fiance at Paper Co. Coffee. More exciting news– Gloria decided that she was up for training for a half marathon! :) As of last week, Gloria, Mark, and I are signed up for The Woodlands Half Marathon on February 28, 2015! I love encouraging others to run!!

Dallas Half Marathon Race Report

I signed up for the Dallas Half Marathon in 2013, but the race was cancelled due to bad weather! We didn’t get refunds, but instead, got a discount on registering for 2014. Also, if we ran 2014, we’d be able to pick up our medals from 2013! No-brainer– I signed up as soon as they sent us the discount email.

Unlike the small race from the prior week, big races require waking up ridiculously early the morning of, but on the up side, they have race expos! I drove up from Houston Saturday morning (couldn’t skip Rascal Flatts playing at the company holiday party Friday night!) and in the afternoon, went to packet pick-up and explored the expo, picking up a few items. Also, I signed up for the Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon in September at a discount!

IMG_1523Pre-race: I stayed at a friend’s place overnight in Lower Greenville, since it’s a much shorter drive from there than from Plano! The morning was going relatively smoothly, until I got close to the race and realized I had no cash for parking.  Shit.  I ended up finding street parking and did the Pay by Phone option, after coming up short on change to put into the meter. I waited until 30 minutes before the start to leave my car. I thought I would have plenty of time to go to the bathroom and then meet up with some friends, but I was wrong, lol. I waited in line for 15-20 minutes to go to the bathroom. By then, the corrals were so crowded that I wasn’t able to maneuver over to where my friends were standing!

IMG_1530Race: After running RunGirl 13.1 last weekend, I decided to take this one easy. Glad I had decided that, because turned out I was a bit dehydrated and had minor side cramps going on! Walked EVERY water station, and thus, the pretty varied paces in my splits. It sprinkled lightly during the race. Wasn’t too bad except that it made the roads a bit slick and I had to tread carefully.

Around the last 1/4 mile of the race, the first place marathon runner came running by! I was prepared– stopped to snap a shot before finishing the run.

dallashm14finishSplits:
9:55
9:19
9:31
9:18
9:22
10:08
9:32
9:42
9:04
9:53
9:49
9:37
9:09

Official time: 2:07:28
Pace: 9:44

IMG_1544Definitely much slower than last week’s race, but I’m not beating myself up over it! Picked up 2 extra medals after the race and then walked probably a mile to get back to my car! It was rather tricky getting over there with all the sectioned off areas for the race & post-race party! I headed back to my friends’ place, showered, and we went to True Food Kitchen for lunch, followed by much-needed coffee from Ascension Coffee. =)

RunGirl 13.1 Race Report

So, this was a bit unplanned but I ran with Kristin, and since she wanted to go sub-2:00, I thought, sure, why not?

Pre-Race: Gotta love smaller races where you can show up 15 minutes before the start and wait in your car until 5 minutes before the start to walk over! It was a cool morning at 54 degrees and a little bit windy, being next to the lake. There was a small crowd at the start, and it didn’t take long to pass the starting mat!

rungirl2Miles 0-10: Kristin and I ended up running the whole race together! As predicted, we were dressed appropriately for the parts where it was windy, but whenever we were further from the lake, there was no wind, and it felt a bit warm. In any case, I had only run up to 8 miles in the past few months, and it was pretty obvious today, lol. I was able to keep a pretty good pace for 9-10 miles! The start might have been slightly more congested, but it didn’t take long for the runners to spread out (see the background in the picture?). I also did grab water at every water station, quickly slowing down to sip, and then picking up right where we left off.

Miles 11-13.1:During that last 5k, my legs tightened up, unprepared for those extra miles! Luckily, Kristin started feeling good around mile 9 and kept us going the last few miles to hit our sub-2:00 goal. I seriously just wanted to slow down and walk, lol. On a side note, we tried to high-five for the camera a couple of times, but the photographers only got our first (failed) attempt!

In any case, it wasn’t bad for a last minute race, although that last 5k was tough! Oh yeah, we also stopped at every water stop, haha. I didn’t cramp up during the race tho, so I was pretty happy about that.

Splits:
8:34
8:49
8:50
9:01
8:57
8:56
8:46
9:02
8:54
9:07
9:17
9:06
9:01

My app recorded the run to be a little longer than 13.1, but that seems to almost always be the case.

Official time: 1:59:32.6
Pace: 9:07/M

Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot 2014

Another Turkey Trot in the books! I’m embarrassed to say that I lost track of how many times I stopped to walk. Half-way through the race, I felt the effects of dehydration in the form of side cramps, and knew that there’d be a lot of stop and go for the remainder of the race.  I managed to set a PR, which isn’t saying much, given my time of 1:39:49 from 2 years ago! I remember that race– I was having ankle issues and the race had gone horribly.  I had a string of bad races around that time and I recall the frustration I felt.

On the plus side, a PR is a PR and a 9:32/M pace isn’t too shabby considering how inconsistent my training has been the last few months! Also, the walking gave me a chance to stop and snap a shot on my camera, lol. Oh yeah, I’ve ditched my obscenely large Garmin lately and just used the Nike Running app on my phone.

This year, Jamie and Sam skipped out on the race to take care of Taylor (their baby!), so it was just Joseph, JR, and I running.  We met up at the DART station at 8:00am, but we hadn’t checked the schedule and waited another 15-20 minutes in the cold (mid-high 40s?) for the train to arrive. Luckily, this race is divided into corrals and our blue bibs allowed us to cut into the first corral, especially for timed runners. I remember how the concept of a “timed run” was intimidating when I signed up for my first 5k, 3 years ago!

The turkey trot has become a tradition for my friends and me, and it holds a special meaning to me, since my first timed run was a turkey trot (albeit, the Frisco one instead of the Dallas one) on Thanksgiving day, 2011! This year, before we headed our separate ways (to meet up again in a few hours for a late Thanksgiving lunch), JR asked, “Same time, next year?” Definitely.

Capital One Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot – 8M
November 27, 2014
Official time: 1:16:17
Pace: 9:32/M
Overall: 1911/3409
Gender: 559/1406
AG(F 30-34): 83/213

Rockets Run 5k

I haven’t blogged about a run in ages!  I woke up late race morning after attending a wedding the night before. At 8:00am, when the race started, I had just parked my car in a garage many blocks away. I ran to the start to meet up Gloria & Kristin– they HAD to wait for me because I had their race bibs! We started ~8 minutes after the race start. I felt SO bad for being late, as it was Gloria’s first race! We ended up running together, so took it easier, as Gloria typically runs slower and on a treadmill.  I didn’t mind– I was tired and thirsty! First water stop at the 1-mile mark was out of water, so I didn’t get a chance to quench my thirst until mile 2. There was a 3rd water stop around mile 3, but we skipped that one.

RocketsRun2014I can’t help but speed up towards the end of a race and Kristin & I ended up getting ahead of Gloria the last block before going down the ramp into the stadium I’m a fan of that decline towards the very end of the run, although my shoelace came untied and I had to be extra careful to not trip! I almost collided with a runner in front of me who stopped as soon as he crossed the finish line. Since we finish in the Toyota Center, it tends to get a bit crowded– I recall that from prior years as well.

We made our way up the stairs and outside to get to the post-race party, where I picked up a bottle of water and a slice of pizza. After meeting up with my co-worker (who I had convinced to race, but then failed to meet up with her beforehand), we picked up our wallets and walked over to Phoenicia, where I picked up a Pumpkin Pie latte and a palmier. Not a bad way to start the day!

Rockets Run 5k
November 9, 2014
Chip Time: 28:20
Pace: 9:07/M
Age Group (F30-34): 19/179
Gender: 159/1122
Overall: 637/2413

Life is a marathon…

It’s been awhile since I’ve written here and a lot has changed. I’m starting a new job this upcoming Monday and I’m moving to a new place in a month!

The Houston Marathon was a miss in terms of hitting my time goal, but there were a lot of other developments.  I finished the marathon in 4:33:43, WAY slower than the sub-4:00 that I trained for! On the day of the race, I had a terrible attitude once I realized that my goal was slipping away from me early in the run (~ mile 5!!).

I’m going to warn you now– this is going to sound extremely cliche, so if you don’t like that sort of thing, just stop reading.  I’m making an analogy about my life being like a marathon.  During the marathon, I was so focused on making my goal, that I didn’t let myself enjoy the race when things weren’t going my way! But life is like that– there’s always going to be obstacles and setbacks, but you have to learn to enjoy the journey.

I hate to admit it, but I’m guilty of being one of those people who has always been obsessed with reaching goals and  feel disappointed in myself if I’m not there yet. But the truth is, I’ve come a long way in many aspects of life and I ought to be proud of my accomplishments instead of focusing on what I haven’t done or what I don’t have.  Not to say that I shouldn’t have goals, but that I ought to be happy with my life as it is.  After all, this is it!

Regardless of what I’m trying to achieve, life is now and I can’t enjoy it if I’m convinced that I need to reach some goal in the future to be truly happy with myself. The good news is, I’m generally an optimistic person and believe that the mind is an extremely powerful tool in situations like this one. It’s really just a slight shift in attitude for me to take enjoyment in the present, no matter the situation.

Back on the subject of running, it didn’t take long for me to pick another race to train for– the Chicago Marathon.  Turns out, I’ve become a bit of a fair-weather runner, so my training has been minimal and often, on treadmills (ick!). I’ve decided to let go of my sub-4:00 goal and I’ll try to PR (but it’s okay if I don’t!) but more importantly, I want to enjoy the race!  I’m thankful to have an upcoming race to keep me motivated and thankful that I have friends that are coming with me to Chicago.  :) Also, I think I’m going to take a break from marathons after Chicago…