Runderful: Houston Marathon Training Wk 3

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Believe it or not, we had a chilly week here in TX as much of the rest of the country. The “deep freeze” as they called it in the local paper was one day of temps in the 30s overnight. Brrrr. Yes, I am officially a cold wimp. Hard to believe that after 40+ years of East Coast winters, I shiver when it’s in the 50s. 🙂 But, it’s been fun to un-earth all my cold weather running gear that just a month ago I thought I would have to donate.

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I also registered for another half in February. They had bonanza registration open up at 6 am on Friday starting at $1. So….yes, I had to jump on that. I got in for a $1!!!!

Around here it’s Christmas central as I finally got my holiday decorations up both inside and outside with the hubby’s help. It’s the most wonderful time of year. The kids are excited about the holiday and all my family is coming to visit.

My week of running was pretty good as well. After my 20 miler last Sunday, I woke up on Monday with two sore feet. My PF has been acting up on one foot (same foot as before), and my other foot has developed some tendonitis. I decided to take the day off, and I felt better. I’m still feeling sore with both feet, but it’s manageable. I’m just hoping to get to the Houston marathon in January healthy.

Here’s my week of running:

Monday: off

Tuesday: 1000 m intervals. Was able to hit 6:45/min for some of these, and 7:00 for the others.

Wednesday: yoga

Thursday: 6 miles

Friday: 5 miles

Saturday: 3~ish miles

Sunday: BCS Half marathon

Total miles: 37.5

Sunday was the highlight of my week. The BCS (Bryan College Station) Marathon and Half Marathon is the local race in town that benefits a couple of charities including Mercy Project, an organization that rescues children from slavery in Ghana. Racers get a tech shirt at packet pickup and a finisher’s jacket this year (specific to half or full) plus a nice spread of food (tacos, pizza rolls, strawberry pastries, frozen margaritas, local craft beer, chocolate milk, Gatorade, and more). I really wasn’t that excited about it at first because I’ve been so focused on Houston and how my miles have not been what they should.

But, I got more excited as the week went on about running my last half of the year (#6 this year) and because there were several people in my running group running their first marathon.

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Here’s my BRF and I at the start!
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These are some of the people in my group! A bunch of awesome dedicated runners.

I saw a couple of my friends out on the course cheering for their relatives. I love this picture.

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Temps started in the 50s with a slight breeze and a little drizzle. Not bad at all. My BRF and I weren’t running together because she ran 5 miles before the race to get a long run done. But I ran the race with another friend (above in yellow) who is usually much, MUCH faster than me but is coming back from being injured. We agreed that although a PR would be nice for me, we were just going to have fun. We talked and laughed the whole race.

I had a pretty good race.  I ended with a 1:47. A few minutes off a PR, which I was really hoping for, but it didn’t come together. I still managed to get 2nd place AG.

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After the half marathoners finished, we freshened up a bit and jumped in the car to find our full marathoners we could cheer for. We had a great time and ran with them along various parts of the course. There’s not a lot of cheer support on this course, so every single person cheering helps!

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It was so much fun! Getting to see people reach their goals after all their hard work is the best feeling. I got teary eyed several times just watching all these amazing people.

How are you getting ready for the holidays?

I’m linking with Holly and Tricia for the Weekly Wrap-up!

NYC Marathon Race Recap

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Hard to believe this race is in the rearview mirror!

First and foremost, thanks to everyone for all the messages, texts, well wishes during the training and the race. Knowing that I have the love and support of so many people means so much to me. I also want to thank my training group, the Brazos Valley Runegades, and my BRF, Lesley, for training with me during a very, very long 20 week training cycle in what was one of the hottest summers in Texas in a while. During this training cycle, I logged 821 miles of running. And I couldn’t have done it without God’s blessings of health, family and friendship.

Second, I’m really blessed to have gotten into the NYC Marathon through the lottery on my first try. I was kind of stunned when I got in, fully expecting to not get in and then thinking, oh crap, I guess I have to run. lol. I’m so thankful that I didn’t give in to the worry, anxiety, butterflies that plagued me much of the training cycle.

I left on Friday morning for NYC. After I arrived at the airport, I went to the bathroom and when I turned the corner. I saw a man using the stall with the door open! Thankfully for me, he was facing the wall. I quickly did a double take questioning whether I was in the right place. I walked back to the restroom entrance, saw the “WOMAN” sign and then walked back into the bathroom as the man was using the sink. And no, he wasn’t transgender… He was embarrassed as he realized his mistake and I just chuckled. But, I thought, I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come.

I whizzed through security and waited for the little puddle jumper to take me to Houston. The incoming flight was delayed which meant I was going to miss my connecting flight to NYC since I only had 45 minutes between each flight. The airline employee told me there was a chance I could still catch my flight because they could make up the time, so not to worry. After a smooth flight, we landed with 20 minutes to spare before the next flight. It was in another terminal, but I got my sprinting face on and was ready to bolt. Except, they had to move the plane back one foot from the gate because they had miscalculated. After correcting for that, I still had 10 minutes to spare. I dashed out of the plane, trying very hard to fight the urge to push people out of the way. The other plane had left on time. But, I was put on the next flight to NYC arriving at 9 pm, about 4 hours later than planned. No worries.

I met my sister at the airport, had a nice dinner at their place and went to bed much later than usual but got a pretty good’s night sleep.

Saturday, we headed to the expo. I was so excited and had a checklist of things I wanted to do. I picked up by bib and shirt, made a custom back bib, and walked around all of the booths. I wanted to buy every.single.thing, but I really wanted to show some restraint for things I would really use. I heard a talk on race strategy from the race organizers, met with some of the pace team leaders. For a few seconds, got photos with Shalane Flanagan as she dashed between appearances she had to make at various booths. And got a Bartie with Bart Yasso (such a nice guy!). I splurged on a pair of 2XU recovery compression leggings that aren’t even available online yet. It’s part of a new recovery line they’re launching. These are dreamy. And I got a free shirt with purchase! I love this shirt.

I tried to stay on top of nutrition and hydration all day, and for the rest of the day, we just chilled at my sister’s place relaxing. We had a nice dinner at her house. My parents came in town from Maryland to surprise me. This was the first time they’ve cheered for me during a race, so it was a big deal. I know they worry A LOT about me running, particularly a marathon, so it meant a lot to have them there. Everyone had a pow wow about marathon signs to make for the race.

Saturday night, I was getting nervous and overwhelmed with the thought of getting to the starting line on time. I didn’t get much sleep (as I usually don’t before a race day) and woke up at 3:45 to eat a small meal and have a cup of coffee. After a short subway ride, I got to the NY Public Library at 5:30 am to catch the bus. Everything moved very efficiently and in about 10 minutes I was on my way to Ft. Wadsworth. We got there at about 6:30 am, got through the security screening, and got in my corral. I settled in for the long wait until 10:15. I spent the time chatting up other runners, eating more and drinking my water and some hot tea.

We got in our corral late because they Wave 1 (I was in Wave 2) left later than planned. But, we got started right on time. From the corral, you walk quite a way just to get to the start line. And then, it was wall to wall people. I positioned myself as close as possible between 3:40 and 3:45 paces groups so I could get a good pace and not get stuck behind people. There were people elbowing, and tripping each other accidentally it was soo hard to stick with the pace group. I stuck with them until mile 11 or 12 and then hit a bottleneck and when I navigated that, they were gone. 😦 Not the ideal, but I settled into a comfortable pace and kept going. I had my phone with me (as I always do during races) and my headphones. The weather was perfect. I didn’t put my headphones in because I wanted to enjoy the crowds and cheering. I’m so glad I ran without music because it was hard enough to navigate the mass of runners. Also, why I didn’t take any pictures. During the first 11 miles, I fought hard to stay at my pace and not trip or be tripped by people passing me, slower runners, etc.

I didn’t take any pictures because it was too dangerous to do so without getting injured.

Miles 1-13 Started on the Verrazano Bridge and ran through Brooklyn. Running on the bridge wasn’t as bad as I thought and I kept to my pace. The crowds in Brooklyn were electric and this section is largely flat. My biggest problem was sticking with the pace leader and trying to keep him in sight.

Miles 13-15: The bridge into Queens was steeper than I had expected so I slowed down a bit on the incline not to burn it all and stay steady. My sister, brother in-law and parents were in Queens cheering at mile 15, which was awesome to see them. I was so worried I wouldn’t catch them, but then I did and waved. I wish I stopped to get a hug, but my brain wasn’t working to backtrack a little bit to get over to them. I almost wiped out several times, and being short and at elbow level of many runners, I was convinced my face would be covered in bruises. Not intentional at all, but hard to navigate.

Miles 16-20 through Manhattan and into the Bronx. Two more bridges and this section wasn’t bad. My pace slowed down a bit and I knew I wasn’t going to hit anywhere near 3:45, but I still wanted to get under 4 hours if possible.

Miles 21-24 were the hardest. Back into Manhattan and a steady incline up 5th Avenue. I was dragging. I was stopping at all the water stops and guzzling water and Gatorade.

Miles 24-26.2: I was ready to finish. I buckled down as best I could and ran through the soreness that had developed all over. I pushed through and finished in 4:01.

Favorite things about the race: NYC. Simply the most diverse and eclectic group of people around. The crowds, the scenery and the organization. The people are energizing. Random people shouting your name? That’s awesome. Through every marathon I’ve run, and this one no different, I’m really struck by the physical and mental obstacles that many have to overcome to run this race. I saw one elderly man with a stooped posture walking with a sign on his back that said 87 marathons and counting!!! It was inspiring and emotional to see the Achilles team runners overcoming blindness and other challenges to crush a race like this. Simply amazing! And as I encountered each of these runners, when the voices in my head were starting to get to me about feeling tired, I thought if they can do it, I can too. And I can!

The challenges of the races? People talk a lot about the bridges and how hard they are, but I actually didn’t find them too bad. The Pulaski Bridge from Brooklyn to Queens was one of the hardest because of the incline grade. But, I had trained to run on hills so it wasn’t a big deal. What I wasn’t expecting was the grind of 5th avenue from miles 21-26 when mentally I’m not all there to remember my mantras and verses. And then in Central Park, because of the small hills at the finish, you can’t see the mile markers, so I just had to push to keep going.

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Then, I walked 15 blocks to get my heat sheet and race poncho (which is absolutely lovely and warm) and then 15 blocks south to meet my family. THAT was painful, but I’m glad I did that to keep moving and not stiffen up. Walking up and down flights of stairs to take the subway right after the race was also not fun, but necessary.

NYC, my third marathon in less than one year, was by far the hardest course ever. I was a little disappointed that with each marathon I’ve gotten a little slower instead of improving. But, I’m so thankful for the ability to run, and to run another marathon, a blessing I don’t take lightly. and experience this awesome race–truly once in a lifetime.

 

Diva Half Marathon Race Recap

Last week, we had a lot of rain, as I’m sure you’ve heard. Houston got 18 inches of rain in 24 hours. The flooding was awful, and 8 people died, mostly after getting trapped in their cars when they drove into roads that were submerged. Thankfully, our area got a lot of rain, but not enough to flood. I had to cancel our Monday workout because of the huge storm. I ran 28 miles this week and took it easy with my ankle.

Yesterday, was the Diva Half Marathon in Galveston, my last half of the season (and half #9 overall). We left early on Saturday morning to spend a little more time in Galveston relaxing. I went with my two runner friends, L and B, who are the same people I went with last year.

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We had a nice Italian lunch when we first arrived. I couldn’t resist this picture.

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We picked up our packets and saw some interesting things at the expo, including this runningluv product. What will they think of next? It’s basically a band that wraps around your wrist with a small microfiber towel that is attached. The towel comes in a ton of different patterns.  I don’t think there were as many vendors this year, but I did score a good deal on some cute running singlets for our little running group of 4.

After that, we went to the beach. Since Hurricane Ike several years ago, the beach has been populated by large granite rocks that the city put there. I’m not sure why, but we used that for a little sunbathing spot. It was nice and relaxing, the weather was gorgeous in the 70s, and the sea breeze felt great.

After that, we went to the historic downtown section of Galveston called the Strand. There are a  lot of cute shops and restaurants. We went to this classic 1920’s style candy shop. It was really hard to resist buying a little bit of everything. I bought a little bit of chocolate chip cookie dough and peanut butter chocolate fudge for the kids. Seriously, for the kids.

 

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We had a lovely dinner at a Greek restaurant on the Pier. It was a beautiful sunset and the food was delicious. I had grilled shrimp with rice pilaf. The unfortunate thing about Galveston is that a lot of oil production/refineries are right there on the water, so the waterfront is not as pretty as you would like, but it’s not a big deal.

I made sure, despite walking around a lot, to drink a lot of water and eat plenty, something I didn’t do last year when I ran this race.

We went to our hotel and got ready to race. This is the race t-shirt and tutu I got at pickup. My bib is black because of my reported previous half marathon time (there were about 50 people with black bibs). The other bibs were pink, and 5k bibs were purple.

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I raced in the tutu last year, but it was breezy so it was bouncing up and down, which I didn’t like. So, I opted for a different outfit.

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When we woke up at 4 am, it was 70 degrees. At start time it was 66 degrees with 75% humidity and a little breeze. As soon as the sun is up, it feels warmer pretty quickly, especially as you’re running! I love the atmosphere of women (and men) before the race. It’s hard not to smile with all the tutus and cute running outfits around. We met a 79-year-old woman walking her first 5 k. She told us stories of working in the 1950s as a reporter and a political writer. She was so charming. She went on to win the 5 K in her age group.

I did manage to capture the sunrise between mile 3 and 4. I was pretty proud of myself for running and taking this shot. However, I dropped the phone on the ground when I tried to put it back into my skirt. Oops! No cracks or anything.

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The course starts and ends in the historic section of Galveston, past some historic mansions and other houses that harken back to the turn of the last century. Then, the course goes along the ocean and into a quieter residential area with condos along the water.

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My plan was to enjoy the scenery and the race. My ankle bothered me a little on Friday, so I took Saturday off of running. I knew I would still be active with the walking, so I wasn’t worried. Sunday morning, it didn’t bother me, though, so I felt good.

I ran a fast three miles and then slowed down gradually. The warmth got to me quickly, and I took my time through the course. I got water at every stop (which was every mile or two) and Gatorade at the last two stops.

I was happy to finish the race in 1:54. By the end, I was hot! Nowhere near my fastest time, but not my slowest. I’ll take it. They had firefighters distributing the medals. My hubby wasn’t pleased with this pic. 🙂 They also had champagne in champagne flutes and gingerale. I opted for the soda. The post race snacks were fruit, cookies, tart cherries, and almonds, plus water.

My friend, B, placed second overall, and my run bestie placed first in her age group. Woohoo!

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We also met this woman, J, when we asked her to take our pic. She was very sweet. I love the camaraderie at this race.

I took today off of running too because now with no races on the horizon, I wanted to give my ankle a little break. 13.1 is 13.1!

And that’s a wrap! I’m linking up with Holly from HoHo Runs and Tricia at MissSippiPiddlin for the Weekly Wrap-up!

 

Race Recap: Republic of Texas Half Marathon

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This week’s running was not the best. I was dragging throughout every run, for some reason. I didn’t get anywhere close to any of my paces (even my old paces) for my intervals or tempo run, which was discouraging, because my effort felt like I was going all out. I didn’t keep up with my core challenge either.

And, I had the Republic of Texas Run at the end of the week. When I signed up for the race months ago, I thought I could try to set a new PR at the half marathon, but after a mediocre week of running, I didn’t have high hopes.

The Republic of Texas Run is a kind of a new half marathon, but really a reboot of the Armadillo Dash Half Marathon that’s existed for a few years. Remember that ugly race shirt I talked about last week with the giant armadillo on the front? Yep, that was from the Armadillo Dash.

Fun fact: From 1836 to 1845, Texas was an independent nation before it became part of the Confederate States. Texas was the only state to enter the union as a sovereign nation.

The race management was the same, but the course was all new, and they had a quarter marathon and a 5K as well. They also had some new sponsors at the post-race party. The start and finish line were next to the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

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The post-race food was beer, pickle ice pops (who knew?? I didn’t try them), fruit and barbecued sausages that you could either get on a stick or rolled in a tortilla. Along with brisket, barbecued sausage is a delicacy in Texas. Yum!

I was able to hold a pretty good pace for a first half, but I had gone out too fast in the first two miles, so I paid for it in the end, and I slowed down a lot in the last three miles. My time wasn’t too bad, though, considering, just a minute slower than my fastest time. Somehow I managed to get 1st AG, and my husband got 2nd AG in his quarter marathon. I was really proud of him!

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After a really, really wet week of rainy runs, this weekend brought some gorgeous weather.

On a bike ride with the kids, we stopped to visit with a family of turtles we usually see. It’s been fun to see the babies getting bigger. But, right after we stopped, we spotted this guy, just inches from the path I run on sometimes. Our area has four different poisonous snakes: copperheads, coral snakes, diamondback rattlesnake, and the water moccasin or cotton mouth. I believe this is a water moccasin.

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And, because it’s Meatless Monday link-up, I’m sharing the delicious portobello mushroom lasagna I made based on Ina Garten’s amazing recipe. The recipe is great as is, definitely not low fat, but I changed her recipe to amp up some flavors. I diced a mix of crimini, portobello, and dried mushrooms (that had been soaked in hot water for about 20 minutes) and cooked them in olive oil instead of butter, then I added a teaspoon of fresh chopped rosemary and thyme. Instead of using whole milk, I used low fat. In addition to the parmesan cheese, I added a cup of grated gruyere.

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Linking up with the wonderful Weekly Wrap-up hosts: Holly from HoHo Runs and Tricia at MissSippiPiddlin AND awesome hosts: Deborah of Confessions of a Mother Runner and Sarah of A Whisk and Two Wands for Meatless Monday link-up.

Girls 5K Race Recap

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The Girls Just Want to Have Fun 5K happened Saturday. This race is one of the BCS Marathon races held throughout the year in town. All proceeds from the race benefit the Mercy Project, which works to free children from slavery in Ghana.

The all-girls race is a lot of fun! There’s a costume contest before the race, and there’s always some really creative group and individual costumes. I’ve never dressed in a costume because I don’t want to be uncomfortable while racing. Some of the winning costumes were Breakfast Club and Runaway Brides. Very cute!

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The day was gorgeous and sunny with temps around 60 degrees at the start, and the music and all-male volunteers made for a fun atmosphere. At the finish line, there’s Gatorade in champagne flutes, a chocolate fountain with bananas and strawberries, and cookies for post-race snacks.

My absolute FAVORITE part of the race is having fun with my running sisters and cheering them on!

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My running valentines! We always have a great time together chasing down some PRs. Each participant got a long-stemmed rose at the finish.

I didn’t have many expectations for this race, just to run it as best as I could. I wasn’t sure I would be able to best my time from last year when my training was at such a different point. And racing a 5K, which I only do once a year, is a long, hard sprint–so different from the distance racing strategies. I approached the race as a time trial to measure where I am this year and to help me gauge where I need to improve for the rest of the year. It helped take some of the self-imposed pressure I was putting on myself!

The bonus? I managed to get a PR! It was a nice surprise because my lungs were not amused when they screamed for mercy starting at mile 2.

There are many things to love about this race:

LOVE looking at fun costumes, chatting with my running besties, and eating [scarfing down] some cookies.

LOVE seeing little girls running and walking with their mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters and friends, and continuing the healthy sisterhood legacy their mothers have introduced in their families. It warms my heart! One day, I hope that my daughter will do this race with me. This weekend, with her broken ankle and a virus, we were happy just to have her stay home and recuperate.

LOVE knowing that each person running is helping to save the lives of enslaved children in Africa and re-introduce them to freedom and their families.

Hope everyone had a great Valentine’s Day!