half marathon

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

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. =)

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

San Francisco (Half) Marathon 2012

This was, by far, the best race I’ve ever done.  I was unsure about what to expect with the hills and all.  Like many other runners, I’ve been shy to share my race goals, but since I actually hit my goal, here they are:

A) Sub-2:00
B) 2:08
C) 2:12

I really didn’t think I could hit A, was really hoping I could beat my first half-marathon time (2:08:03), but I felt there was a chance that the hills could slow me down and in which case, under a 10:00/M pace would be great. I suppose D was to just finish, haha. I was ecstatic that I finished in under 2 hours!!

Splits:
1) 9:08
2) 9:01
3) 8:57
4) 9:07
5) 9:22
6) 9:38
7) 8:52
8) 9:05
9) 8:34
10) 8:44
11) 7:51
12) 8:48
13) 9:05
13.29) 7:58

Pre-race: I jogged/walked the 1+ mile to the race start early in the morning when it was still dark outside. It was exciting to see all the other runners! While I was looking for the UPS truck for my bag drop-off, I heard a voice yell out, “RUNNERS COMING THROUGH! MAKE WAY!” I was confused until I realized the ultra-marathon runner’s were coming through, approaching the finish! Their race started at midnight. Wow, so hard core and very inspiring.

I turned in my warm-up bag and headed towards the Wave 5 start. When I registered, I had put down 2:15 as my estimated finish time, putting me in the 2:11-2:20 group.  Someone else had told me that I would feel better starting in a slowing group and speeding past people than starting in a faster group and getting passed up.

It was in the 60’s that morning so I wore my new Athleta shorts (with a pocket in the bag for my Gu), a gray tank top with pink edges from Target (haha), Pearl Izumi sleeves, Drymax socks, and my Brooks PureCadence. I can’t believe I didn’t take a pre-race photo!

Miles 1-4: The start was flat and as usual, everyone was going out fast. I had to REALLY make an effort to try to ‘slow’ my pace and while my plan was to start around 9:30, I ended up going faster. Then I reminded myself that the course was flat in the beginning anyway so I would likely slow during the uphill. I let myself go a little faster.

Miles 5-8: Water break in mile 5 and big hill in mile 6, as clearly reflected in my pace! 309 feet of elevation, 65 feet of descent in mile 6. I had decided that I was not going to walk any of the hills. I was determined to keep running, even if I had to slow down a lot. There was a girl that was yelling out encouraging words on the hill, “Almost there!!” or “High knees!” and once she reached the top, cheered! Despite the burn in my legs, it did put a smile on my face! If I hadn’t felt the need to conserve my energy, I would have cheered too. I sped up once it flattened out in mile 7 on the bridge. It was an amazing feeling, running over the bridge. The fog prevented us from seeing very far ahead, but there was just something majestic about looking up and seeing the famous bridge. It was on the return portion of the bridge that I realized my pace was faster than I had expected and there was a chance I could hit sub-2:00. It was a little tricky maneuvering around people on the bridge since the lane wasn’t that wide, but I did the best I could. I just kept telling myself to keep my turnover up and take smaller strides. I took small gulps of my Triple Espresso Gu once I got past the first half of the bridge, knowing that there would be water soon. It was just a slight downhill but I took advantage of it and let my speed pick up. I can’t even remember who told me now, but someone had told me to just let gravity carry me downhill, so, I did. Quick water break in mile 8 once we were on the other side of the bridge.

Miles 9-12: I was feeling pretty damn good about how things were going in the last third of the race and my motivation was high. I knew there was another big hill, a downhill, and then rolling hills with a gradual ascent to the end. Again, I wanted to speed up to prepare myself for the hill, and I ended up keeping a pretty good pace! Mile 11 Had the long downhill and I just flew down, again, keeping my turnover up. The last mile or so was the toughest. My legs were getting tired and going uphill was definitely a mental challenge. My pace would slow down going uphill and the second I had some relief and was going downhill, I’d let my speed go back up. I had to tell myself, “just another mile!” Once I was past 13 miles, I pushed myself to pick up the pace. And of course, once I neared the finish line, I pushed it harder to finish strong! I even posed with my arms up as I crossed the finish. 🙂

I was so elated when I looked down at my watch and saw my time!!! I got my medal and a blanket thing before grabbing a water and walking over to get my photo taken. You know what was the most awesome feeling? I saw a crazy long line for the bag pick-up and realized it was for Wave 4. As for Wave 5 pick-up? NOBODY. Hahah, sweet. The people in my wave were mostly still on the course! I felt pretty bad-ass, not gunna lie. Then, I went through to pick up food and Irish coffee. They had bananas, apples, mixed fruit cup, cereal, Zico water, chia seeds, packets of nuts, Lara bars, and yogurt. I drank some Irish coffe, ate a banana, put on my warmup clothes, snapped some pictures with my phone, returned some texts, and walked to the bus line. It hit me how tired I was once I was on the bus, almost falling asleep, haha. I picked up some chocolate milk once I got to the marathon start/finish but couldn’t get into the section with the jamba juice! It was just as well though– my stomach was starting to hurt. 😦 I did talk to a marathon runner who had run SF a few times and had hit his goal of sub-4:00! Haha, one day…

By the way, NO BLISTERS!! These Brooks are a keeper. 🙂 Anyway, I stuck around to wait for my friend Alice to finish the second half– she ended up finishing it just over 1:50!! It was finally time to go and her boyfriend drove us back. Unfortunately, my stomach was not feeling great for a few hours and I had to skip the celebratory brunch, opting to curl up on the couch and snack on French bread and ginger ale. Eeks. How do I prevent an upset stomach post-race??

SF Half Marathon Hills

Today, I finally looked up the elevation chart for Wipro San Francisco 1st Half Marathon that’s coming up end of next month:

Um, this looks challenging..guess I need to do more hill training!

The website also has a video of the course–

Cool, right??   The video explains that the course is fairly flat from miles 1-5 with a short hill around mile 2.5.  From mile 5-10, the bridge is 1.75 miles in each direction and it’s a hill going both directions, roughly a 3% grade.  After mile 10, it’s 1 mile downhill and then rolling hills to Golden Gate Park where the finish is for the first half.

My goal for this race is to enjoy the scenery and, of course, to finish the race!  I would, as always, love to PR but it’s okay if I don’t and I’m not really expecting I will with those hills, haha.

Rhythm & Blues Half Marathon Race Report

[I started this post a couple of months ago and never posted it, but I finally decided to finish it!]

Completed my first half marathon! I beat my goal (2:11) and my official time was 2:08:06.6 with a pace of 9:47/mile. Wohoo!! I do have a blister on my left foot and my middle right toe is totally bruised but feeling good otherwise!

My friend Richard and I carpooled to the race around 5:55am and got awesome parking! In fact, we weren’t sure we could park there at first because there was only one other car parked there (street parking). Not much had been set up yet and some of the volunteers told us the nearby Doubletree was friendly to the runners so we hung out there to hide from the cold (about 48 outside) and used the bathrooms.

The 5k was scheduled to start at 7am and half marathon at 7:30am. They both ended up starting about 10 minutes late, but no biggie. I really had to pee but I figured the feeling would go away after I started running, haha.

Once the race started, I was frequently checking my Garmin to make sure I didn’t start too fast. It was a little tough watching all the people pass me but I wanted to make sure I didn’t burn out early!

Three loops, 4 ‘valleys’ on Allen Pkwy each loop. My usual run at Memorial is essentially flat so it was different and a little bit of a challenge– it threw off my pace a little. My first attempt to drink water while running after 3 miles was disastrous so I made sure to walk and drink the next 2-3 times that I stopped for water. I saw Richard and his coworker cheering for me after I completed my first loop. How nice!!

By mile 6, I was pretty sure a blister was forming on my left foot. I had more Gu around mile 7 or 8 as I was approaching the water station. Sometime after that, something felt off with one of my toes on the right foot. Eeks, felt like it was bruising but at that point, I was just going to ignore it and keep going. Completing my second loop, I saw my friends holding signs and cheering for me!! Aww, that put a huge smile on my face– plus the signs were pretty funny.

The last 5k was definitely the most challenging. I kept telling myself, just think of it as a 5k but by mile 11, my legs started getting tired. I wanted to finish strong and have negative splits! I just kept telling myself there was only a little bit left and I managed to maintain a decent speed. When I saw the finish line, I gradually speed up– it was encouraging to know that my friends would be at the finish line! Haha well, I was so focused on just finishing, I nearly missed the finish line– to the left was the finish, to the right was for people who were still doing loops. Luckily, the photographer yelled at me “finishers to the left!” and I swung over to the left, haha. Oops, that would have been embarrassing .

Splits:
1) 10:05
2) 9:52
3) 9:49
4) 9:48
5) 9:13
6) 9:33
7) 9:48
8) 9:38
9) 9:57
10) 9:28
11) 9:32
12) 9:31
13) 9:27
13.3) 8:39

Not as consistent as I would have liked but I think that has to do with the dips in the road and when I walked through water stations maybe. Anyway, it was my first half, so I knew it would be a PR as long as I finished! I’m happy with it! =)

check out the awesome signs!

Rhythm & Blues Half Marathon
February 19, 2012
Time: 2:08:06.6
Pace: 9:48/M
Total: 439/953
Gender: 200/584
Division: 38/90

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.  🙂