Setting Expectations

Hot yoga was not my plan for this morning. I ran last night because I planned to go to my more-typical vinyasa flow yoga this morning.

Before leaving for class, I double-checked the schedule. Tuesday mornings are not vinyasa first thing but HPF (hot power fusion). Had I looked before bed, I probably would’ve skipped yoga. I’m grateful for my assumption because it got me up and to the mat.

My body has been feeling the shock of a return to strength training and yoga. HPF was just what I needed after all. It’s difficult to take time for slower, purposeful classes because they don’t seem as “efficient” but their value is long lasting. Slowing down gives me the recovery and strength I need to continue building muscle and speed without injury.

Back on Track

Getting ready for spring training has been a gradual process. I’m slowly increasing my mileage and adding in more yoga and strength training.

Midday workouts powered my first week back at work. I wasn’t quite ready to resume 6am workouts yet, and neither is the local weather. It’s tough to get up early on a cold, dark morning.

My workout schedule this past week included runch, leg work, a cold and slow 5K, running to brunch and back and a full evening of yoga. I’m looking forward to the official start of spring training next week.

First Run of 2018

My winter gear arrived just in time for a freeze that’s hit Dallas all week! I donned my new Scuba hoodie (cozy and lightweight!) and ear-warmer with my regular gear for a 20-degree run to kick off the year. I’m slowly building my way back up to my pre-marathon mileage. At perfect timing, my Nuun order was waiting for me when I got home.

Last month I ran 40 miles, most of which was the San Antonio Marathon. Over the whole year, I ran 770 miles. Considering I ran only about 20 between April and May, I’m proud of what I accomplished.

This year, I’ve set a goal to run over 1,000 miles. Not running any marathons in 2018 will help me run more because I won’t need to take any extended post-marathon running breaks. I’ll be powered by Nuun and Honey Stinger along the way, which I’m proud to represent as a 2018 Nuun Ambassador and member of the Honey Stinger Hive.

Cold Weather, Hot Yoga

Snow stuck me inside most of Christmas weekend in Colorado, but I found relief returning to yoga. I ventured outside for a Christmas Eve run that didn’t even last a half mile, fighting an obstacle course of ice and temperatures in the teens.

After taking it easy for the past few weeks post-Marathon, I felt out of shape. My marathon now feels ages ago. While my plan was to hit the yoga studio daily, I’ve been held back by this fear. Context helped give me confidence: I ran a marathon this month, of course I can handle an hour of yoga!

Finally, I gave it a try yesterday. Yoga is a bit like riding a bicycle. The muscles remember, and it’s OK to take it slow as the mind catches up. Class felt so great that I went back again today, this time running the 1.5 miles to the studio as a warm-up. It feels great to rebuild my routine.

San Antonio Marathon

My fifth marathon is now in the past after so many months of training and preparation. I spent most of the race ready to be over with it but also managed to enjoy myself and take it easy. We stayed at the historic Menger Hotel, just blocks from the start and finish lines, allowing me just enough time to shower before checkout. I struggled early on in this race so my mind shifted from seeking a PR to finishing with a good attitude.

Expo:  One of the better expos I’ve encountered lately. Lots of vendors (loved seeing nuun) and a celebration of Rock n Roll race series from the year. RnR had gathered all the banners from each race expo and put them together to celebrate their 20th anniversary and the final RnR race of the year. We found our banner from Dallas and I added a message to the San Antonio banner. The expo was also incredibly convenient. We walked past the 5K/10K race on the way to the expo (held at the convention center).

Weather:  Horrible! I had low expectations (Texas in December is incredibly unpredictable and the news showed the race was in a rainstorm last year) but hoped for maybe 60s. Instead, we got an incredibly humid start, two rainstorms during the race, a light sprinkling later, and a warm sunny finish.

Support:  Friendly volunteers and lots of water, but support ran out of Gatorade during the later miles (fortunately I drink Nuun instead). There were more medical tents than I usually see, which offered vaseline and salt packets along the way. During one of the toughest miles, mariachi bands dotted every corner and a folklorico dancer performed above us on a bridge.

Course:  Mostly a good tour of the city. We began downtown and ran right past San Fernando Cathedral (with the priests blessing us as we ran past) and the Alamo early on, then past UTSA before heading north into the newly revamped Pearl District. The next highlight was Brackenridge Park, a delight for anyone who thinks Texas doesn’t get a beautiful taste of fall. The trees were rich in autumn hues and American flags lined the way with photos of fallen soldiers. From there, we turned south along the Mission Trail. Unfortunately, we ran through the back way and could only spot one mission from a distance even though the missions were nearby. Miles 18-20 overlap with 20-24, providing more support than usual on some of the tougher stretches. The last mile took us through the gorgeous and historical King William Historic District to cheering crowds just in front of La Villita. Overall, a good pass through the city but would’ve liked to see more of the missions and run along any part of the river walk, even on its far reaches.

This was my first marathon completely and purposely without music. I planned to listen to the Rock n Roll provided bands every mile, but the frequency was lower than I expected. While it was my slowest marathon ever, I felt the greatest sense of accomplishment at the finish line. I’m so grateful for everyone’s support and excited for my next races in 2018. No more marathons for a very long time! I would run RnR San Antonio again in the future but opt for a shorter distance.

Taper Madness

Marathon week brings with it all sorts of reactions: self-doubt mixed with excitement, fear, anticipation. I watched a documentary on the Barkley “Marathon” this week and am using some of its lessons to power me through this week.

One of the race’s themes is that there’s no sense of accomplishment without a real chance of failure. At the same time, knowing someone else has accomplished it gives you the drive to try for yourself. A regular marathon is the same way.

We ran seven miles last night with four at race pace. I kept thinking about how I would need to hold that same pace for 26.2 miles on Sunday. Tonight I ran three miles at recovery pace–and remembered to roll after running!

Now it’s time to rest until this weekend. There’s nothing more I can do but recover and sleep.

Turkey Trot

Running my first Turkey Trot was the highlight of the last couple weeks of training. Dallas hosts the largest Turkey Trot, with almost 50K people running either the 5K or 8-mile distances. There’s few moments more exciting than seeing so many people up early to run.

I chose to race the 8-mile distance, which ended up being a competitive and fast course. I’ve never done a race of that distance before (instant PR!) so I had to think carefully about pacing myself:  faster than a half-marathon but how much faster? I settled on an 8:30 pace and stayed there. I know I could push myself harder next time, but I feel great about how I did.

After eating lots of Thanksgiving pie, I took Friday as a rest day. We ran 10 miles Saturday morning. My legs will be taking it easy the rest of the week. I hardly believe marathon week has finally arrived! Sleeping (resting up for the race) will be the most important element of my training this week.

Trinity River Run

Racing at night has got to be one of the coolest race experiences ever. I closed out the weekend with the Trinity River Run Half Marathon and a finish through flashing lights and lasers. While the race started late afternoon and I spent most of it in daylight, night fell during my last mile. It was the perfect opportunity to debut my reflective running shorts!

Expo:  As basic as basic gets but with the benefit of multiple packet pickup locations or having your bib shipped to you (for an additional fee). PlayTri hosted, and I was in and out of my local location in five minutes. The race shirt is a really cool 360-degree print of the Dallas skyline at night. I saw many runners post jokingly they were running this race “just for the cool race shirt.”

Weather:  Almost perfect! The race started in the high 60s and finished around 60 degrees with a light breeze. It was a little humid at times, but that’s Dallas for you. I only wish the sky had been clear for a beautiful sunset view while running. Instead, it was overcast all evening.

Support:  Water and Gatorade every two miles but the separation between the two wasn’t obvious enough for runners. I found myself grabbing Gatorade by accident multiple times. I don’t use water stops much in a half, so this wasn’t too big of a deal. Crowd support was minimal, probably because of the location and time of day, but there were several police officers all along the course. While working the course and directing traffic, the officers also seemed genuinely invested in spectating.

Course:  Nothing compares to racing at night with a perfect view of the Dallas skyline. If you need any more motivation to push yourself the last couple miles, just look ahead. Overall, I loved running this course along the Trinity River (“river” used loosely in its modern representation), through the Design District and parts of South/West Dallas. The trails don’t quite connect enough for the half marathon distance, so some of the time is spent on the road with a couple brief gravel patches. I would like to see completely paved trails in the future. Enjoy the cool murals along the Trinity Strand Trail and the finish by Trinity Groves. The course is flat, except for a few bridge ramps.

Fueling for an evening race takes a lot more planning than usual. I ate a typical pre-race meal the night before (fish and pasta) but had to think carefully about what I consumed Sunday:

  • All day:  hydrating with water and Nuun vitamins
  • Breakfast (6 hours before): eggs and a waffle
  • Snack (4 hours before): crackers
  • Coffee* (2-3 hours before): almond milk latte
  • Lunch (2 hours before): English muffin with crunchy PB (my typical pre-race breakfast) plus some pickles
  • Snack (1 hour before): Nuun performance
  • During the race: pretzel sticks and Honey Stinger chews
  • Post-race: amazing after party of food from Modern Market to Topo Chico

*I purposely stay away from caffeine the day before a race, so this coffee hit at just the right time.

I had so much fun racing at night! I can’t wait to find my next half marathon–and hopefully another night run.

The Most Important Race

Do you want to make a difference in the lives of people experiencing homelessness?

The week after my fifth marathon, I’ll be running the Dallas Marathon Relay with other Back on My Feet volunteers. We run weekdays at 5:45am alongside friends experiencing homelessness. For them, every mile is an accomplishment and part of their journey toward a fresh start.

The money we raise for our relay race will help Back on My Feet members in the most important race: life. Some of our members will be accomplishing their first half or full marathon while we run. Some will be celebrating bigger accomplishments: number of days working, sobriety milestones, days since last arrest, re-establishing relationships with family, learning to believe in themselves.

Please join me in the relay by contributing financially: https://give.backonmyfeet.org/DallasMarathon17/BoMFvolunteers

Crazy Weekend

Ever taken a nap before 9 a.m.? This morning was exactly one of those days. We ran just over 10 miles with DRC training, mostly along the lake. Then I went back to sleep as quickly as I could.

This weekend will be back-to-back half marathon weekend three of three. I ran The Wurst Race two weeks ago, paced the DRC Half last week and am racing the Trinity River Run tomorrow night. I need all the sleep I can get!

Sunday’s race will be my first-ever evening half marathon. It will be interesting to see how my body reacts to starting a race so late in the day. I typically run faster and stronger in the evening but timing my nutrition will be more difficult. I also plan to use this race to test out a few strategies before RnR San Antonio next month.