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


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…

Lotto for 26.2

Before you get too excited, this does not mean I won the lotto for $26.2M.  Even if I did, I would not write about this in a blog post, lol.  Guess who got selected for the Chevron Houston Marathon for 2013??  Me!!   It’s almost silly if you think about it. Who would have thought I would be excited about getting picked to PAY $125 to run 26.2 miles??

This will be my first marathon! I’ve already signed up for the Dallas Half Marathon and the Austin LIVESTRONG half marathon as well. And to think it was only last October that I painfully ran/walked my first 5k!

I ran my half marathon in 2:08 so my goal for the full marathon: (a) under 4:15, (b) under 4:30, (c) just finish!!

Strength Training?

My current training plan, simplified:

MON run 3-4 miles
TUE run 3-6 miles
WED yoga
THU run 3-4 miles
FRI rest
SAT/SUN yoga & run 6-12 miles

It’s not strict– I just try to get in my miles and not overdo it.  However, I’m planning on adjusting my plan after my first half marathon in 2 weeks. Ultimately, I want to improve my speed for my 10k in April (there’s a bet riding on that one!!).  I’d like to incorporate some cross-training and speedwork but first, strength training.

I don’t know anything about strength training.  However, I’ve been advised (by HHRunner, along with many others) that strength training can improve speed.   There’s a one-month Ladies’ Boot Camp at my work gym that I’m considering joining– it’s 6:30-7:15am, Tuesday & Thursday.  SO EARLY.   Maybe I should just suck it up and take the class?

Regardless of whether or not yoga counts as strength training, I love, love Joy Yoga and it’s certainly helped me with strength and flexibility.  Unfortunately, my coupon expires end of February.  There’s a package for $89 for 8 classes/4 weeks or $49 for 4 classes/4 weeks but that’s still pricey.  I’m thinking about getting a 24-Hour gym membership after my yoga coupon expires, and then I could take a variety of classes!

Meanwhile, I’ll pop-in that Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred that is collecting dust on my shelf (no idea why/when I bought this).  Guess I’ll go pick up some hand weights.  I could lose 20 lb in 30 days!  JK, that would not be healthy for me.

Lastly, I love motivational quotes, so here’s one that I like:

Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.
— Will Rogers

From 5k to Half Marathon…!

In the next few months (Feb-April), I have one 5k, three 10k’s, and two half marathons.  I may have gone a little overboard, ha.  On hindsight, I should have just signed up for my goal races, and then figured out if the other races worked with my training schedule.  Oh well.  Live and learn.

Since the Rockets Run was short, my friend Richard has to do another ‘first’ 5k.  I happened to get a flyer for the Rhythm and Blues Half Marathon & 5k race for February 19, so I suggested signing up.   Then, I decided 5k seemed a little short, soooo I signed up for the half marathon instead.  Brilliant, right?   Half marathon a week before my first 10k!

I’m excited…and nervous.  First and foremost, I’d like to complete the half marathon!  It’s an inaugural race, 3 loops on Allen Parkway, and live music!  I ran Allen Parkway for my first run last October– Race for the Cure, and it was rough for me with the road’s ups and downs (don’t laugh, it’s so flat here!!).   Anyway, I would love to do a 10:00 min/mile pace, total time of 2:11:06.  We’ll see how I feel about that goal after my long run this weekend with my new running partner.  🙂

I decided– 2012 is going to be a good one.

the three musketeers 🙂

Making a last minute decision, I hitched a ride to Plano on NYE and spent it at a cozy gathering with some of my best friends!  It was great– I didn’t pay a ridiculous amount for cover and alcohol just to be stuffed into a crowded club surrounded by ridiculously drunk people.

I started the new year learning to make souffle at J&J’s  home and did a 3.5mile fartlek (hehe, funny word) run with Jonathan.  Definitely prefer this over being hungover half the day and hating myself for it.

Late August, I felt inspired after the Europe trip and was determined to make some adjustments to my lifestyle.  The change was gradual and not without obstacles, but I’m excited to say there’s definitely been improvements and it feels great!

Looking back, 2010 was an undeniably rough year.  2011 was a HUGE improvement.  I had a much-needed epiphany towards the end of the year. You know how there are some things that you’ve been told and you know deep down they’re right, but it never really clicks in your head?  Yeah, it finally clicked.  Better late than never, right?