race

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

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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. =)

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

ABB5k & Expo!

I’ve been terribly neglectful of my blog, so a lot has happened, including marathon weekend!

Saturday morning, I was alarmed to feel the very beginning stages of getting sick.  NOOO! I’ve been training for forever (months) for this weekend and I was determined to race.  Last year, I was sick for over a month before the Houston Marathon and made the tough choice to defer my spot for this year!  I would do my best to stay as healthy as possible and the ABB 5k would be a good test.  It was a bit chilly out– around 50, so I wore my Nike running jacket, a tank underneath, Nike tights, and my headwarmer.  Forgot my gloves, oops. I met up with Tim, Becky, and Aydee shortly before the start of the 5k and ended up running the entire race with Becky.  We didn’t bother trying to weave and had a lovely chat while we ran!

Official Time: 32:52
Pace: 10:35/M

Mile 1: 11:04
Mile 2: 10:42
Mile 3:  9:46

The last 0.18 was at a 8:37/pace.  I like to speed up for the finish!  Haha, I think that might be my slowest time for a 5k.  No big, just a warm-up for the real race tomorrow!

Another mile and 4 parking lots later, I finally grabbed my cc and license and returned to George R. Brown Convention Center for packet pick-up and the expo.  I love expos! I snagged $50 Ravenna’s, Nike shorts, and Nike tops from Luke’s Locker as well as some Nuun and the complimentary Nuun water bottle. Oh yes, and I got my bib & shirt for the marathon. 🙂

Heels & Hills Half Marathon RR

Can’t believe I never posted about my last half marathon! Here it is…

My goal when I signed up for the Heels & Hills Half Marathon was to PR. I figured I’d be happy with a 8:55/M pace, somewhere a 1:56-1:57. My last PR was 1:58:25 at the San Francisco Half Marathon last July. Just to be safe, I trained a little faster than my goal pace, but while running with Kristin or Eric, they kept telling me that I should readjust my goals for a faster time since I seemed fairly comfortable during my runs.

Pre-Race: It was the perfect day for a race. 50’s, sunny, not humid (Dallas, not Houston), not terribly windy. Day started around 5:15am. Ate some of my carob banana bread, grabbed a Peanut Butter Cookie LaraBar and headed out to Jamie’s. It was a little after 7 when we arrived at the race. Less than 30 minutes until go time! Garage parking was free. We walked the short walk over to the portapotties and then made our way to the start line. I started around the 2:00 pacer– since it was a small race, it was a mere 7 seconds before I crossed the start.

Miles 1-6.5: I decided to aim for a 8:45/M pace and I figured I would adjust along the way if necessary. I started in front of the 2:00 pacer, but fell back at the water stop. I had started off with only half of my water bottle full since I had drank it on the way there. I decided to refill at the second water stop. WOW, probably lost 25-30 seconds there. I’m terrible at securing the lid and it took me a few tries. I also ran backwards to grab a second cup when the first cup wasn’t enough (probably could have taken a 3rd cup). I caught up shortly after, and the pacer says, “Hey, didn’t she pass us already?” I turned around and pointed to my water bottle, “I had to refill!” He also said to me, “Don’t let it happen again!” I thought to myself, if I’m going to hit my goal, I have to make sure I’m well ahead of this group! I’d like to point out that all the pacers were men in skirts holding pace flags in the shape of a heeled shoe, lol. Awesome.

I’m not sure if it was the concrete or what, but my left ankle was kinda hurting for probably 2-3 miles. I figured the feeling would probably pass. It got pretty spread out fast once I was past the pace group and I woudl pretty much try to pace with someone until I figured out I wanted to speed up and then find someone else to pace, and so on. I think I paced with 2 different girls in the first half of the race before gradually moving ahead. I took a Gu around mile 5 while running.

Heels & Hills 2013cropMiles 6.5-13.1: Felt good in second half and I was generally aiming for 8:40/M pace. I wanted to give myself some buffer because I knew it’d get hard in the last few miles. I kept telling myself, my race doesn’t start until mile 10. I briefly chatting with the last girl I paced with (girl #3), asking her about her goal time. She told me she PR’ed at 1:51 but her last race was 2:05, so today, she just wanted to go under 2:00. I estimated that at the pace we were going at that point, she could hit well under 2:00, but since my goal was more ambitious than hers, I sped ahead once again. As expected, the last couple of miles were hard. Probably somewhere in mile 11, I could feel it. I’d remind myself, just one lap around Memorial…just half a lap around memorial…etc. There were some girls ahead of me and I was VERY slowly closing the gap. There were, however, also 2 girls that passed me in the last mile and I really hope they were doing the 10k, because they were FAST and super relaxed. In fact, they were chatting while running! I couldn’t keep up at all, haha. My legs were starting to ache and my breathing was getting more labored. When I hit mile 13, I went sped up into a full sprint and caught up with the original girls in front of me (not the super fast ones) right before the finish line. I was ECSTATIC to see that the clock was just about to hit 1:53!!

Shortly after picking up my medal and water, my adrenaline went down and my legs ached. Especially that left ankle that had hurt in the first few miles. I was slightly limping but it wasn’t excruciating or anything so I just tried to stretch. Chatted a bit with Girl #3 about races and what not while we each waited for our friends to finish. Girl #1 & Girl #2 came by and congratulated me. 🙂

Splits:
1) 08:37
2) 09:07 –> water refill
3) 08:40
4) 08:41
5) 08:42
6) 08:35
7) 08:31
8) 08:34
9) 08:37
10) 08:41
11) 08:40
12) 08:45
13) 08:36
13.1) 05:37 –> what?! that’s what Garmin says…

Oh yeah, pretty sure those 2 girls that I got in front of at the VERY end were in my age group– I placed 9th but 10th and 11th had super close gun times (chip times: 1:52:50.3 and 1:52:50.8). Glad I sprinted that finish! Awesome race for me and great end to the running season. Although I have a guaranteed entry already to the Houston Marathon, this time would also qualify me! 🙂

Heels & Hills Half Marathon
5/05/13
Official time: 1:52:47
Pace: 8:37/M
AG (F25-29): 9/58
Overall: 70/494