Year Three in the Rearview: Blogiversary/Runniversary

It’s hard to believe that just over 3 years ago I embarked on my half marathon/full marathon journey and started this blog to document the process. Reflecting on the past year, so much has happened, and I finally feel ready to discuss some of it as it relates to running.


When I started running regularly, I began to notice a lot of changes. I felt more focused, and I felt a sense of peace. After a run, I would feel refreshed, less stressed, like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. Now, I realize how much God brought running into my life at a crucial time and to help heal some of my brokenness.

About a year and a half ago, after the big move to Austin, I started struggling with a lot of anxiety. No, I’m not talking about feeling anxious in normal situations that call for nervousness.

I fretted and panicked over every little thing – sending emails, keeping up with my workouts, making new friends, forgetting to take the trash out, losing my keys, etc. I would have sudden anxiety attacks, followed by massive feelings of inadequacy, hopelessness and depression. I found myself struggling to get out of bed in the morning every single day, longing for each day to be over before it began. It was constant. It was something I experienced before, but something running largely alleviated during the calmer periods of my life the last couple of years.

Chris and I pre-PR at the Cap 10K this year.

Being in a new city, away from much of my support system, and being in a work environment that just did not work for me at all, the anxiety led into depression. I tried to work through it and keep on keepin’ on, but it wasn’t something that running could alleviate any more. It became impossible to rely solely on running as my stress reliever and it was clear that I needed some help. I came to a breaking point (I won’t elaborate here because I really don’t want to glamorize how I was feeling). I couldn’t out run the problem anymore, or sweep it under the rug like I’d been doing for 16 years.

Though all of that was extremely tough, the good news is that over the past year I began to intentionally take care of my mental health. In addition to having an incredibly supportive husband who encouraged me to get the help I needed, I owe that in large part to the practice of running. I would not have realized how much I needed help if running hadn’t made such a difference in my life.

It’s true that God has used running in my life, but I could not have foreseen what a large role it would play in this particular aspect of my life.

So why tell you all of this?

Transparency. So often bloggers, writers, etc. discuss struggles during a pregnancy or weight loss, but depression and mental health are sometimes considered taboo. However, it’s still health-related, and, therefore, important.

I feel a sense of duty to share what’s been going on, because so many people are afraid to. That’s always been the motivation of my blog – to reflect on what I’ve experienced and learned, so that others can know they’re not alone, learn more about themselves, and to build community.

There’s still a perception that anxiety can be a handicap or disability, which is wrong, but it exists. I got to my breaking point and it’s hard to think about how awful that was – but I’m also kind of inspired thinking about where I was just a little over a year ago and where I am today.  Not only did I start looking for a new job, but I started the journey to find help – like not just seeing a counselor a few times, but consistent help from a therapist and psychiatrist. It took me far too long to do all of that because I feared the stigma. And I want to be a part of breaking down that stigma.

Finishing my second marathon – another tough experience, but totally worth it to prove to myself that I could do it again. 

The other reason is to celebrate. It’s taken me a month and a half to get the courage to post this, but I’ve overcome a lot in the past year and I want to spread the message that there is hope. Wherever you’re at, you are loved, your life matters, and you are NOT alone. If you need help, or need to take medication, there is nothing wrong with that. As Jamie Tworkowski implied, as long as you have breath in your lungs, your life matters (this also seems more timely than ever with the tragic death of Chester Bennington).

Mental health is as important as physical health because both contribute to your overall health.

With all of that off my chest, what’s next?

I’m not sure! I’ve got a couple of half marathons I’m looking forward to this fall. My plan is to continue to focus on getting faster with my half marathon time before I think about doing another full marathon. It keeps me focused on something (and my doctor says that running is important to my treatment – funny how it really is like medication in some ways!).

I’ve also got some fun lifestyle content planned! I always say that, but I’ve been reflecting and brainstorming on a bunch of different posts for the rest of the summer and fall. If you like to travel, stay active and enjoy all that life has to offer (which is basically all people), then this is for you! I’m so excited to share this new content with you guys!

Thanks, as always, for reading along. Your support has meant the world to me and I look forward to sharing the next year of blogging with you guys!

On a serious note: if you or someone you know is experiencing serious depression or considering suicide, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Crisis Text Line (send a text to 741-741 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Someone will answer 24/7. 

Thoughts, Hopes and Goals for 2017

Can you even believe it? We are 5 11 days in to 2017, y’all.

I’ll pose the same question I ask myself at the end of many long runs – where does the time go?

For example, where did the time go from January 5, when I started this post, until today?

In the process of considering my goals for the year, I’ve admittedly found myself at an impasse of what I want to do with my blog, because there are so many different things I want to accomplish. However, with so many desires at odds, the only thing to do is compromise with myself and prioritize what ideas are most important to me. The common theme in all of my goals for my blog, as well as personal life goals is to achieve balance and equilibrium. I don’t want a boring life, but I do want a sustainable one.

So I’m taking a lunch break today to share a few goals – blog-related and otherwise – that I’ve set for myself this year.

1. Post more original content here on the blog.

I want to post about topics related to how I incorporate running, training recaps, etc. into a balanced lifestyle.

Many New Years resolutions are out the window by January 15, but not to be deterred, I’m starting on this one here and now (I’ve learned slow and steady wins the race). I plan to continue to do running-related product and race reviews, but take on less of them. Again, life is all about balance, which I’ve learned through running. However, I am not just a runner and I always felt intimidated by runners because I felt like they worked so much harder than I did. The truth is, now that I’m a runner, much of my life is still the same, and I don’t ever want anyone to feel like they can’t relate to me. Yes, I’ve come a long way, but I’m still the same ‘ole me.

2. Incorporate travel and lifestyle features.

This ties in with the above. Running is one way to get from one place to another and see the world. To me, travel also makes sense because it’s a very active hobby, and offers a different perspective. Lifestyle in the sense that I want to post about food and how I make things healther, etc. Or how I don’t eat super healthy 100% of the time. Again – it’s all about balance.

3. Set better work-life boundaries.

I love what I do, and I’m pretty career focused, but I’m also realizing that I will get burnt-out if I try to take the world by storm. Plus, I want to make time for my blog, running, and everything else I’m trying to do outside of the hours of 8-6 9-5. Has anyone else encountered this, made changes and created a better balance? Teach me your ways. Taking a lunch break to wrap this baby up, though, has been a successful first step, I think.

4. Read more.

I used to read a lot, and now I don’t. What happened? I don’t really know, but I want to take more adventures on the Reading Rainbow this year.


5. Take some dance classes.

Christmas 2015: my husband purchased dance classes for me because I’d been dying to go back to ballet. January 2017: I still haven’t used them. Wife fail. Good thing Chris knows me well, so they don’t have an expiration date. After seeing La La Land (which you MUST go see), I really, REALLY want to go back, and my goal is to schedule at least one before the month is over. Again, cross training is so important for any balanced running regimen. So this should be an easy way to kill two birds with one stone.

While we’re on the subject, what goals have you set and what would you like to see more of here on the blog? Fill out my poll, please! I really appreciate your feedback. 🙂

Cheers to 2017 and thanks very much for stopping by!

Six Ways to Fit Running into an Already-Busy Schedule

While there are many benefits associated with keeping a consistent workout routine, I’ve discovered that most people, like myself, are already busy and literally don’t know where to start.

Since I started running just over two years ago, it’s safe to say people have started to perceive me as  one of “those people” – you know, the Chris Traeger-esque serial runner. I really don’t know how I became one of “those people,” but that’s where I’m at, and I’ve [mostly] decided to embrace it. I love to run, and I can no longer imagine my life without running. However, I work in PR, consistently considered one of the most stressful jobs, prompting friends in and outside of the industry to ask how I stick with running.

Even though the question makes me a bit uncomfortable (most days I’m just trying to stay afloat), I think back to the time in my life where I was not one of “those people.” I can relate to my friends who are struggling to find a balance between finding an enjoyable exercise regimen and fitting that in with the busy-ness of everything else in life, because that was me, nearly three years ago.

I think they key to my workout routine lies in the systems I’ve developed to keep up with healthy habits. These are really what’s made me seem like one of “those people,” even though I’m usually barely holding it together. Here are my secrets for not completely failing at working out being one of those people.

Set firm work life boundaries.
Perhaps, more than anything else, this is the hardest. I could be on email all the time, and there is always more work that I could stay late to accomplish. And I’ve actually chosen a career that’s notorious for both of those things. Lately, I’ve been focusing on only the most important things each day, and leaving the rest for another day. When you make time in the evenings to do the groceries, keep the house clean, work on creative endeavors and, of course, run, you’ll feel rejuvenated and ready to take on the next day.

Always have a goal

In order to stay on top of my workouts, I have to stay signed up for a race. As of late, I’ve been training for the Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon in Dallas this upcoming weekend, and have the Cap 10K slated for April. Quite frankly, if it weren’t for a goal, I don’t know how I would do it most days. I don’t have it all together!

Don’t set unrealistic expectations

Running 5 times a week with a busy weekday schedule? That’s not realistic for me, but running 3-4 times a week is doable, because I can take advantage of my weekends (and remember, you can only do that if you actually follow rule no. 1).

Get a planner and list your to-do’s

Planning when I’m going to complete my runs means that I’m likely to make adjustments in my schedule to accommodate. I’m not a morning person, but if I know I have a lot going on in the evenings, I can make a point to get a workout in in the morning. Plus, this may sound weird, but I love writing things in my Kate Spade planner.


Bring your clothes to work

Purchasing a gym bag has been one of my best investments. When I take the time to plan out my day and decide on what I’ll wear to work out after work, I am motivated to make the stop by the gym on the way home. This one from adidas is very similar to mine – it has a compartment for your shoes and pockets inside for jewelry, socks, etc.

Get a gym membership

Find a place that has weights and cardio equipment, as well as hours that work for your schedule. This makes it much easier not to make excuses (the weather, a late night at work, you name it, I’ve made them all). Going to the gym can really help you to stay consistent.

What are some of the tricks you’ve learned to stay consistent?

Just Thankful.

Hey friends! I’m participating in the BibRave Pro Thanksgiving linkup. Make sure to follow the link to the next blog at the end of my post for more great content.

With Thanksgiving this week, I sat here tonight wracking my brain trying to think of just the right topic to connect life lately to Turkey day. But, then I remembered that the best blog posts just come. Just saying what’s on your mind and reflecting can sometimes be the best way to approach writing.

In light of current events facing our country, my busy-ness with a starting a new job, etc. I have seen and heard so much negativity and stress lately. I’d like to add some positive feedback to all the noise. While my blog is primarily about running, it’s also about being healthy, and being thankful is actually healthy! Without trying to come up with a witty way to tie things together, I’m just going to tell all of you what I find myself being thankful for this year. I have been provided for in so many ways and I thank God for that.

My Ability to Run

e2c97edc-5a8c-4bb9-b267-cefeddf6efb7-3

I’ve had some aches and pains this season during my marathon training, which has made this season challenging. It has reminded me that I may not get to run forever, so I should make it count while I have the ability. I am trying to practice gratitude each time I run (whether that’s just acknowledging that I am grateful for the opportunity to run, or thinking deeply about it.

My Job

img_3998-3

A lunch break walk wouldn’t be complete without a crunchy leaf and shoe snapshot, would it?

Though it’s been a busy couple of months, changing jobs has been a huge blessing for me. My new work environment is all about growing and getting better at your work. While I have been working some long hours, I have felt a lot better knowing that it’s appreciated. My office is also a highly skilled team to work with and ask questions. They (whoever they are) say the best environment is one where you don’t feel like you are the smartest person in the room. It’s not that I’ve felt like the smartest person in the room at any other workplace, but I definitely look up to all of my colleagues and feel that they are some of the best in the industry. I am looking forward to continuing my professional growth there!

My Husband

85fa5061-ca9b-4c2b-8dc1-dd26396aa3be-3

He tolerates my random pictures of him. 😉

Well, duh. Between dealing with my previous job and stresses there, adjusting to new life changes in Austin, and, of course, having a busy personal life with running and blogging, Chris has been incredibly supportive. He has encouraged me to be more confident in my skills. He has taken care of the dog when I worked late (or went in early) countless times. He has become a pro at cooking my favorite meals and memorized my Chipotle order.

He’s just all-around saved the day. A million times.

I know that’s what spouses are supposed to do, but I couldn’t be more grateful.

A Couple of Days Off

ee941132-8a80-46c7-90b4-658d87e15d0e

Photo from the last time I had time off – in Italy.

Okay, who isn’t thankful for this? Since I don’t have much vacation time yet, the holiday will serve as a perfect time to rest up mentally and physically. After all, I’ve got a marathon in less than three weeks, you guys! We have plans to go camping, so stay tuned for pics.

Though I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with delicious food, family and miles of turkey trots, I also hope you find some time to pause and take in something to be thankful for.

And on that note, Jessica at Live Slow Run Fast is sharing some timely advice on self-care during the holidays. While you’re browsing the web, trying to stave of your turkey coma, make sure you check it out – such an important topic.

What are you thankful for this year?

Cheers to eating all the pie (and my first homemade pecan pie to boot)!

A Nutrabolt-Half-Eve Update on Training/Life

Wanted to give a quick update on all that’s going on with marathon/half marathon training, and life in general!


The Nutrabolt Oktoberfest Half Marathon is tomorrow! AKA BibRave is the only reason I’d be proud to sport orange in College Station. Training has been going well. When you’re training for a marathon, I’ve discovered the half marathon serves as a great way to break up the lengthy training schedule a little bit. I have been fairly consistent with getting my workouts in this time around, overall. Haven’t seen a lot of progress in terms of my overall speed. It has also been very warm (and I have purposely taken a less rigorous training schedule). Races are just so much fun. Also, I’ll be meeting up with Erica from Another Half Please! I haven’t seen her since the Hot Chocolate 15K, and it will be super fun to connect with another Bib Rave Pro.

I’m also super excited to be in College Station this weekend – AKA my old stomping grounds. I went to Texas A&M and loved my college experience, so it’s always a treat to go back and visit/enjoy all of the inexpensive entertainment College Station has to offer. We’re going to eat at Layne’s, we’re going to see a $4 movie, and of course, we’re going to drink some craft beer! It wouldn’t be a proper trip to Aggieland without some beer, now would it?



Fun memories from my ring dunk (where you “dunk” your class ring and chug a pitcher of beer) and Elephant Walk, two Aggie traditions.

Other than that, I have some other big news (and it’s part of the reason for my absence over the past couple of months).

I started a new job last week! It’s going great so far – I am really pleased with the company and all they invest in their employees. It’s been an opportunity to learn quite a lot and I am looking forward to what I hope will be a long relationship. Having more of a work-life balance and being able to refocus back on what I love to do – running and writing – will also be another perk! I feel like I started the year strong, but as my stress level increased, it has become a challenge to give y’all updates. So, I’m quite relieved.


Bonus: unlimited La Croix and yummy tacos within walking distance of my remote-controlled standing desk.

But, as for tomorrow, I’m still managing expectations. With a warm forecast of about 70 degrees, it’s going to be my warmest race. Not totally expecting to PR – it would be nice, but I have been feeling slow lately. My game plan is to just have fun… seems like I say that a lot, but it’s the truth!


Cheers to not having a plan and enjoying the ride. Looking forward to sharing my feedback on the race this week. Stay in touch on Insta for all of the latest! 🙂

A Belated Blogiversary (and a Special Announcement)

Welp, it’s July, you guys! And you know what? Time has flown by and I just realized I never posted about my blogiversary.

It is hard to believe it’s been two years since I started training for races, running distances longer than 2 miles, etc. and of course, blogging! Reflecting on the past couple of years, I feel incredibly blessed to have come so far in such a short period of time, both in my blogging and running. I ran my first half marathon, then went on to run my first full marathon. Mostly, I have learned so much about myself (go figure).Me after I picked up my first race packet for the Houston Half Marathon!

Oh, and here is my super excited pace when I smashed my goal at the Hot Chocolate 15K earlier this year.

Through running, I have learned the value of hard work, commitment and perseverance. Pre-running, I was never able to stay committed to an exercise routine; not only have I gotten better at that, but I am also leaps and bounds better at understanding problems, and setting reasonable goals in order to solve them. Just this weekend, my husband and I proudly made the last payment on my student loans… We are now debt free! Of course, it has taken a lot of personal commitment from both of us to stay diligent together; I believe running has challenged me to be a better wife during tougher times, which has made times and accomplishments like these even sweeter. I could go on, but I will save the novel of words I could easily write for another time, because I have other exciting news to share this evening!

One of the highlights of this past year was running my first race in my new hometown of Austin, the Austin Half Marathon.

In light of my two year blogiversary, I have been aching to set a date for another race. While I don’t race THAT often, I do find that setting races gives me a solid goal to work towards. AND I really wanted to see what a difference nearly two years would make in my marathon time. I am excited to say that I’ve had the opportunity to sign up for not one, but two races on my list through BibRave.

The Nutrabolt Oktoberfest Half Marathon on October 16, 2016

AND

The BCS Marathon on December 11, 2016!

I am both excited and nervous at the same time, because I want to train hard and continue to set better records for myself. But I am mostly excited, because Aggieland holds such a special place in my heart (and the post-race party for the Oktoberfest Half will have special steins with 10 craft beers to choose from, so what’s not to like).

Right after I became a marathoner in Irving… Looking forward to doing that again!

Both of these races will take place in Bryan/College Station, Texas, which I am also super pumped about (’cause I’m an Aggie, duh)! Seriously though, Chris and I have been trying to find an excuse to take a weekend to go back, reminisce on our college days, and take part in all of the wonderful (and fairly inexpensive) things that there are to do in C-Stat. I plan to post info on things to do in BCS in a separate post from my normal reviews, so you can get a better idea of not only why the race is great, but why you should make a trip to College Station to run it.

Oh and then there are discount codes. If you already were planning a fall or winter half or full marathon, and this seems like it might be for you, you can use the code RAVE2016 (for the Nutrabolt Half Marathon it expires on 9/16 and for BCS Marathon, it expires 11/11). That makes the BCS Marathon $85 if you register before August 31, which is totally reasonable if you have been wanting to give it a go. If you think you might want to run either of these with me, feel free to ask any questions, or check out the race websites: nutrabolthalf.com and bcsmarathon.com.

What races are you looking forward to this fall?

Cheers to personal growth through physical fitness!

Statesman Cap 10K Race Recap & Review

Hope you’ve all had a great week so far! I’m coming back off of an awesome race at the Statesman Cap 10K, the largest 10K in Texas.

Similar to the Austin Half Marathon, this race had a little bit of everything I love about ATX… but it was shorter, which made it much easier to run. I was grateful for this, as I’ve been slacking on my training for the last month or so.

IMG_3182

Pre-Race:

Signups were easy-peasy, and there was actually a small expo with convenient times to pick up your packet! This would have been an accurate taste of the half marathon experience for someone who thinks they might want to run a longer distance someday. As far as swag goes, the tech shirt they gave us was nice, though it was a unisex shirt. That was pretty much it for swag, but the race only costs $45 tops if you sign up at the last minute, so I didn’t have super high expectations.

The Cap 10K also has a blog, which isn’t totally unique to this race, but I noticed they were updating it pretty regularly. Maybe this has to do with the Austin-American Statesman being the sponsor; whatever the reason, I liked it!

Race Day!:

With 20,000 runners trying to get to the start line, I highly recommend finding a method of public transportation to take. Traffic to public parking areas was awful! Luckily, though, the parking area at the Palmer Event Center was close to the Cap 10K starting line.

Once I got to the start line, it was easy to find my corral. I was in corral B, which was supposed to start at 8:10. Oh! That’s another thing that I loved about this race… it didn’t start until 8. I am not a morning person, so when races don’t start at the crack of dawn, that’s a huge bonus.

Anyway, the gun went off with much fanfare and excitement, and my corral entered the course at about 8:05. I’m not sure if 8:10 was an estimated start time, but whatever. I was fine with starting early – sooner to brunch, right?

IMG_3186The course itself was lively, and there was TONS of live music (more than at the Half). The first half was very hilly, and the latter half I felt pretty tired. Overall, the course was scenic with a nice view of the capital, 6th, and the skyline near the end. If you ever run this race, make sure you look back at some point; there is a SEA of people, and it is an incredible sight.

There was also great course support – lots of volunteers handing out water (no Gatorade though). The aid stations were spaced out fairly frequently, just under 1.5 miles from each other.

I came in at 1:06:47 (10:45 average pace). I’m sure training more consistently would have shaved a few minutes off my time, but I will take the improvement! It was great to get a benchmark time down for the 10K, and it is a time that I am proud of. Somehow, I was near the top 3rd percentile overall… maybe there are a lot of walkers, because I usually am lucky to get into the top half (not that it matters, I just like to look at the metrics).

Post-Race Party:

After crossing the finish line, there was a fab Cap 10K post-race party waiting! I met my husband and in-laws and we walked around a bit. There was food, water, live bands and many vendors. I didn’t stay too long, because brunch, but it was a great party. If you run the race with a friend, you would have a good time if you just stayed after to hang out!

IMG_3188And that was that for my first 10K! Definitely check it out if you are ever wanting to visit Austin and run a fun, not too intense race. Not sure if 10K is my favorite distance, but I would run this race again.

What’s your favorite race distance and why?

Cheers to trying shorter distances! 😉

Austin Half Marathon Recap and Review

When I found out we’d be moving to Austin, I wanted to jump in and experience the city, so I quickly signed up for the Austin Half Marathon! This time last year, I was knee-deep in marathon training. After finishing the marathon in April, I decided to focus on half marathons for awhile. My fall race was (sadly) cancelled. After running a “virtual race” to earn my medal, I wanted to keep working to get better, so when I finally got to run a real race again, the victory was that much sweeter.

I trained hoping to a.) improve my overall time and b.) stick with a schedule more consistently. When the Austin Half Marathon weekend rolled around, I felt more confident and prepared.

Pre-race (jitters and all)

From signing up to packet pickup, the pre-race process was a breeze and well organized. The race admission fee was not extremely steep, considering it is a large race in the city. I also saw consistent updates and emails on social media in the month/weeks leading up to the event.

One aspect that drew me to the Austin Half was that they had a large expo. The expo took place at the Palmer Events Center on both a Friday and Saturday, which was accommodating for runners that were traveling and Austin residents. Paid parking is available, but the line to get in is quite long – you’ll get there faster by parking elsewhere and walking.

The expo was expansive, with a variety of vendors and local running companies. When I went, there was a Q&A session taking place with the race ambassadors, and several other presentations were scheduled for the day (including live music). It was even dog-friendly! If I had known that, I totally would have brought my beloved pooch.

Checking in was a simple, efficient process. The swag was also surprisingly good – a nice tech shirt and drawstring backpack that I think I will actually use (marathoners were gifted an even sweeter one-shoulder bag). Then, thanks to a handy pamphlet, parking and finding the start line the next day were a piece of cake.

Race Day

ATXaustin

After taking my place at the start line in the appropriate corral, the gun went off promptly at 7 a.m. for both races. The corrals were not strict; we were instructed to gather ’round the appropriate marathon pacer, and everyone gradually funneled through the starting line into the course. The start line was crowded, but all the participants were evenly dispersed into the course, making navigation
smooth sailing.

The 13.1-mile course was basically uphill or downhill at any moment – steady incline for the first 3 miles, then a steady downhill for 3 more… some flat-ish miles and then rolling hills to finish off the race. The hills at the end aren’t nearly as long – pretty short in fact – but boy, are they steep! I advise training on hills (especially if you’re coming from somewhere like Houston). The positive for me was that I didn’t face the knee aggravation that sometimes follows me on flatter surfaces. The final hills were a challenge, but there was a crowd to keep me going. Below, I’m breezing through the downhill halfway point.

ATXaustinhalf1

My favorite part of the half marathon was the energy! The scenery was the epitome of “Keep Austin Weird.” And there were random bands on the sides of the course playing music – after all, Austin is the Live Music Capital of the World. There was no shortage of spectators, either, and the pamphlet from my packet even pointed out where spectators could spot runners at multiple points. Seeing my husband a couple of times was a nice surprise (usually he sees me off at the start line and catches me at the finish).

My one complaint was there were not nearly enough porta potties. I’ve been to races with far more on the course… and I had to result to drastic measures as a result of my over-hydration (oops).

I ambitiously hoped to clock in at under 2:20 if everything went perfectly, but, alas, it didn’t. My secondary goal was to finish under 2:24 (sub-11 minute miles) and to push myself through the water stations/not walk too long. I’m proud that I did accomplish both of those goals, despite my 5 minute detour. I crossed the finish in 2:21:59 – shaving almost 10 minutes off my PR (personal record) of 2:31:34! So, yeah, it’s possible to do well on a challenging course, and hard work still pays off, even if race day doesn’t go as planned. The finish line was totally surreal; it was very professional (and it made me feel as if I was crossing the finish of a much larger race… but maybe that’s because one of the marathon winners crossed at the same time I did, haha!).

ATXthumbsup

Post Race Party

There really wasn’t much of a post-race party. You can bring a water bottle to fill up, or you can drink water from little sippy cups. Supposedly, this effort reduces waste – typical of Austin – but I found it inconvenient. They have runner food (mini bagels, chips, bananas, etc.). You can have your photo taken, but you’ll have to pay for the proof later if you want a copy. Then, it’s time to venture outside of a designated runner area to meet your people. I found the PR gong in one of the few vendor booths, and there is a food truck area where you can pay for food, but that’s really about it. Nothing too special… My husband and our friends high tailed it to our favorite pancake spot, Kerbey Lane, and that was that.

ATXsarahandrea (Me and my friend Andrea, pre-pancakes!)

Overall, the Austin Half Marathon provides a tour of the sights that make Austin uniquely Austin. It would be a fun race to travel for, and if you’re up for the hills, I’d recommend it!

Cheers to setting new records in a new city!

 

Hot Chocolate 15k Recap and Review

Disclosure: I received a complimentary race entry for the Hot Chocolate 15K as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews! All opinions are my own.

Howdy friends! Last weekend, I had the sweet treat of running the Hot Chocolate 15K in Dallas, Texas. This is the shortest race distance I have run to date, and I think I might be hooked. 🙂 When I heard about the opportunity to run the Hot Chocolate 15K, I quickly researched the race and discovered there was chocolate on the course, cool swag, etc. They had me at “chocolate”, and I signed up! My expectations were pretty high, because I read so many things that were positive about the race, including the great swag, fun atmosphere and all-around deliciousness.

PRE-RACE:

Signing up itself was pretty easy. Ram Racing has a portal and ways to change your jacket size. I had a couple of questions that I messaged the social media person about, and they were fairly responsive. Leading up to the event, they also gave consistent updates until race day. I even got a training plan sent to my inbox every week, which was nice.

One issue I did run into was with the expo. I was not able to attend because I recently started a new job and couldn’t take time off yet, so I had to drive in Friday after work for the Saturday race. The expo on Friday closed at 6, which seems really early to me (I could not have been the only person in the state of Texas trying to drive in at that time). There is a way to have your packet mailed to you, so I had to pay an extra $15 for that service.

Ultimately the packet came almost 2 weeks before the race, which was nice. However, the jacket I received was huge. If you are able to attend the expo, you can switch it out with other sizes that are available. My options were to either pay to send the jacket back and pay again to have the right size sent to me, or have a friend switch it. These are not totally unreasonable options, but since I didn’t have any Austin friends attending, I would have had to ship it to a friend in Dallas. At that point, the jacket seemed like something I could replace with all of the shipping charges I was going to incur, so it wasn’t worth it. These issues could have been avoided, though, if they would have the expo open later. They could open later in the morning if they had to worry about staffing shifts. I don’t see this being an issue for non-traveling folks, but it was inconvenient due to my travel schedule.

RACE DAY:

While traffic was a bit scary for some of my fellow Bib Rave Pros, we were fortunate and got in pretty quickly. Around 7:15, we started the walk to the start line. It was a pretty long walk. My poor husband didn’t realize he was going to have to walk a 5K to see me off. We finally made it, and I had to use the bathroom. Luckily, there were SO MANY PORTA POTTIES. The line went super fast, and I made my way over to the starting line, met up with some other BRP’s and new friends and found my corral. Side note: it was so great meeting Sarah (Run Ginger Run), Jen (Crazy Cupcake Runner), Erica (Another Half Please) and a new friend, April, at the race. 

HC_hotchocolatebibravpros

As for the race itself, I had A BLAST! The gun went off, and one by one the corrals entered the course. Aid stations were spread out roughly every 2-2.5 miles. I was nervous about this, but because it was chilly and I was well-hydrated, it ended up being fine. nuun at the aid stations was a nice touch, as was the delicious chocolate and marshmallows.

HC_hotchocolatestartline

The course was not overly scenic the first few miles, which were also flat. I semi-held back my pace, while feeding off the energy of the large runner crowd. Around mile 3 or 4, we got to a gorgeous, semi-hilly neighborhood and I felt fantastic! The hills here were nothing big for me, now that I’ve been running in Austin. I was passing people, but they might give Houston/flat area runners trouble. Miles 3-6 flew by, and soon enough, I was starting the last 5K with a lot of energy! We ran through another flatter area that wasn’t exactly scenic. The course reminded me of Houston with its diversity. The last large hill of the course peaked with a view of the Dallas skyline and Texas Star ferris wheel, so I stopped, took a picture, and pressed on to the finish line.

img_2827

Coming into the race, I realistically hoped to finish in 1:42:00, if it was a good day. My last 9 miler, I ran in about 1:39. I shattered that goal by over 4 minutes and my final time was 1:37:18 (10:27 average pace)… What the what?! I guess my half marathon training has paid off, as that’s over a minute per mile faster than my half marathon PR pace.

HC_hotchocolatefinishline

Chris almost missed me at the finish line because he thought I was going to be coming a couple minutes later. Luckily I saw him and he was able to snap some quick pics.

POST-RACE:

I crossed the finish line, took my awesome medal, and found Chris (see my super-excited face below). We picked up my finisher mug, which was delicious and the lines were speedy! The hot chocolate was a perfect way to toast a great race. Skinny Pop was also giving samples away, which was wonderful. Tip: if you want to eat your snacks without freezing (or having your fondue freeze), go take a seat by the bag check. It’s warm in there! We weren’t able to stay too long for the post-race party because we had to check out of our hotel, but everything we saw was awesome.

HC_hotchocolatemedal

HC_finishermug

Overall, it was well-done, had a great vibe, and met almost all of my expectations. I loved the race itself and distance, though I thought the pre-race procedures needed some tweaking (and the jacket quality had room for improvement). I will absolutely try to make it back next year and recommend it to friends. It would be a great introduction to a longer distance, or a first race!

Now, I’m looking ahead to Austin tomorrow. Hoping I can surprise myself again on the hilly course, but starting to get nervous.

Have you ever surprised yourself during a race?

Cheers to new distances, new races, and new records! HUGE thanks to BibRave and Hot Chocolate/Ram Racing for this opportunity.

A Thief Named Comparison

Reflecting on the my recent half marathon has brought out my competitive spirit.

As I mentioned, I didn’t meet my time goal. I was initially bummed when I finished, and I quickly got over it. However, even though they’ve been surrounded by positive thoughts, I’ve had moments of doubt over the course of the last couple weeks, and moments where I’ve been frustratedly wishing I was at the fitness level that other people are at. Thankfully, I’ve been reminded by my dear husband that there has been so much to be positive about. I finished, first of all, and I finished without injury. My asthma barely flared up this training cycle. The same thing could not be said for the first half marathon I trained for last year, which is a sign of improvement. Combined with the fact that I genuinely didn’t have time to train like I wanted to, I’ve resolved that it’s okay for life to get in the way sometimes – I’m only human. Plus, there are lots of other races coming up.

Again, for the most part, I’ve felt pretty good about how everything shook out. I am writing this because I find it fascinating how, even when we aren’t competing with anyone else, we find ways to compete with ourselves. This isn’t intrinsically negative, but when we let this rule our lives, it can be destructive. We are our own worst enemies.

FTR Theo Roosevelt Quote Smaller

Since I needed to be reminded of these truths, I wanted to share them with you, in case you need the encouragement as well.

First, comparison will steal your joy, if you let it (so don’t!). There is always going to be someone faster in running that you can compare yourself to. With the endless parallels running brings to life, there is always going to be someone smarter, cooler, or whatever than you, so comparison is futile and will only cause you to focus on the negative. Comparison is not healthy! Regardless, if you’re giving your best effort (and even on the off days when you aren’t), your life matters, and there is always something to be thankful for.

Second, accountability can remind you of the truth when you aren’t able to see it. We all fall prey to negativity, which is why accountability is a healthy alternative to comparison. My husband and friends who don’t run remind me that everything in life is relative, and they build me up when I struggle to remember how far I have come. Most of my friends don’t run, and when I tell them my running struggles, I’m also reminded how trivial they can be. The lessons I’ve learned from running are greater and far more important than a time on a piece of paper.

Finally, whatever fitness struggle you are encountering, I implore you to remember that you are more than just a number on a scale, clock, etc. Comparing your success now to any success in different circumstances (someone else’s success, past progress, or something else), is fruitless. Yes, great things happen when you push yourself, but today is new, which means the present challenges are also different, and comparing other experiences under different circumstances is like comparing apples and oranges. Revel in the successes each day brings and cling to those.

So, onward we go. Cheers to seeing the beauty in each day!