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

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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.

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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!).

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Becoming a Runner Step 2: Finding a Schedule that Works

Want to tackle a half marathon, 10K, or even a full marathon in 2016? You’ve probably spent some time trying to find a method to help you accomplish that goal. Or perhaps you haven’t! Either way, I’m here to try to help take some of the guesswork out of that process, so you can get to running!

The longer I have been running consistently, the more I realize that running works for me because I’ve found a schedule that fits my lifestyle. When I was training for a marathon, I was running at least four days a week, and I did not have much time for anything else at a certain point. It was worth the commitment to accomplish my goal, but that rigorous workout schedule was one that I knew I couldn’t sustain for years and years.

Ask yourself the following questions to help determine the right distance and schedule for you.

What are my goals? Are they realistic?

If your goal is to go from 0 miles to a marathon runner in 3 months, that’s probably not realistic. However, maybe 0 to 6 miles is possible! Basically, the longer the distance you want to run, the more time you need. If you are starting from zero and want to run a marathon, give yourself a year (or two!). If you want to run a 10k, then that might be possible in 2 months. Just set your goal, and give yourself more than enough time to accomplish it. When I started running, one practical way I figured out how much time I needed was by finding the longest training schedule I could find, and giving myself an extra month in case I end up facing injury (I did this for the half and full marathon).

How often do I want to run?

There are many variations of training schedules for just about any distance. Are you super busy, like me? 5 days a week of running is probably not going to work for you! You’ll run a little longer/more miles each day if you run 3 days a week, but you won’t have to go to the gym nearly as often. If you work out every morning before work, then 5 days a week might work a lot better for you. Just find a balance that fits your current schedule.

Do I want to incorporate other activities?

If you do, it might be wise to pick a 4 day a week plan and incorporate 1 day of cross training, like a class, in place of a shorter run (3 days running, 1 day CT). Regardless of whether you want to incorporate a cross training option, or not, I would definitely make sure you are lifting weights some time during your training, so that all of your muscle groups stay strong.

Ready to get started? Here is a list of resources that you can use to find the a schedule that works for you:

Runner’s World

Hal Higdon

Competitor.com

Cool Running

Jeff Galloway

Women’s Running

Most of these resources should have free options available. I have used Hal Higdon’s several times and really like his plans. Keep in mind that all of these websites (and individual plan authors) will have different philosophies on what works best. Jeff Galloway, for example, is built around the idea that taking walk breaks can help prevent injury and burnout. With any plan that sounds like a fit for you, try to steer clear of plans that have mileage increases of more than 10% each week. 10% is not a scientific number, but for most people, this number strikes the balance of  increasing mileage while building cardio endurance, without causing too much stress on the body too soon.

What kind of running regimen works for you?

Cheers to another year of great running!

Disclaimer: I am not a physical therapist, running coach, or a medical professional. I’m a runner sharing my personal experiences, and this does not replace advice from a licensed healthcare professional or running coach. Please consult a licensed professional if you are in need of in-depth advice on an exercise regimen that works for your personal needs.

Training Update: Back to the Daily Grind (and a Good Routine)

The past couple of weeks have been jam packed with going back to work after the Christmas break, fun stuff (Chris’ band had a show last week), and, of course, blogging! It’s been busy, but when I look back on busiest of times, I see that they are always the most productive.

So, let’s get started, shall we?:

Week of December 28 (Week 9):

4.0 mi. | 40 min. tempo | 3.0 mi. | 10K race

For the week after an indulgent holiday, my runs this week felt surprisingly great. I really enjoyed the tempo run, especially. I always do these on the treadmill, and I finally am learning to enjoy the treadmill. I feel like my pace has gotten much more consistent since regularly resorting to the treadmill. And tempo runs seem to go so fast! I skipped the 10K, thinking I would make it up the next week, but it got away from me with a busy first week back at work. Still, 7/8 runs is an improvement from my last update! 

Total mileage: 11 mi.

 

Week of January 4 (Week 10):

4.5 mi. | 8 x 400 m. | 4.0 3.0 mi. pace | 9.0 mi.

Again, all of my runs felt fantastic this past week (I have to hand it to the weather, which has also been on point). I messed up my schedule and accidentally ran 3 miles one day instead of 4, but that’s no big deal.

To top it off, I ran my easy 9 miler in under 11 minute mile splits. GREAT FEELING, you guys. I have never run 11 minute miles longer than a 5 mile run, or at least not that I can remember. If I can keep that pace for the Hot Chocolate 15K, let alone the half marathon, I will feel AWESOME about that. I would be clocking in under 2 hours and 24 minutes!
Total mileage:  20.5 mi.

 
After celebrating Christmas with my parents (check out my 60 lb. lap dog with my dad… she is one spoiled grand-dog), we spent a quiet week at home, other than a couple of work days. New Year Eve was spent with Cards Against Humanity and a friend of ours, and then we binge-watched Making a Murderer to begin 2016. 

 
We also returned to 24 Diner for a New Year’s Day date. They are home to the best waffles ever. AND we saw “Joy.” I have to say it’s one of my new favorite movies. That story made me want to get up off my butt and make things happen.

In other news, work has been crazy busy since I got back from the break, but it’s always busy at the beginning of the year, with trade show season in full swing, and trying to get everything organized for a successful year. I’m getting back in a good routine, and finding a good balance with all the things in my life, though. I am really excited for 2016!

That said, I’m looking forward to this year with all of you. It’s going to be a good one.

Cheers to the New Year, y’all!

Training Update: Ho, Ho, Hustling!

Howdy Folks! Since I’m training for two races right now (those of you who follow me on social media saw that I’m racing the Hot Chocolate 15K in Dallas on Feb. 6), I thought it would be effective just to do a week by week (ish) update on my workouts. I am hoping to run more frequent races in 2016 and I think it will be easier to keep an ongoing log of my workouts on the blog, rather than a log for each specific race.

If you’ll recall my training schedule for earlier this summer, that’s what I’m working my way through right now. I plan to switch the 15k race in Week 12 for the 12 miler in Week 14, since that week is the week of the Hot Chocolate 15K (and a week before the Austin Half). By the way, if you register for the Hot Chocolate 5K or 15K with the code BibRaveDAL, you’ll receive a complimentary head warmer! There is actual chocolate on the course, so it’s my kind of race.

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This past week was none other than Christmas, so I actually only ran one of my scheduled runs due to a hectic travel schedule and poor weather when I wasn’t traveling. That’s why this recaps the past two weeks of my training. I was 4 for 8 on making my training runs, and I really was trying to get them all in. Why are the holidays so dang busy?!

So, here’s the recap:

Week of December 14 (Week 7 on the old calendar):

3.5 mi. | 35 min. tempo | 3.0 mi. | 7.0 mi.

All workouts got done except my tempo run… Felt like a good week, and I ran my 7 miler in under an hour and 20 minutes, which I felt good about since I started very slow. Part of my motivation was getting all my gift wrapping finished (who else has been there?). I even ran a 9’41” mile – I think that is one of my fastest to date!

Total mileage: 13.5 mi.

Week of December 21 (Week 8):

4.0 mi. | 7 x 400 m. | 3.0 mi. pace | 8.0 mi.

Well, at least I finished the 8 miler (slowly, but surely). I got it out of the way first, knowing that I would be traveling a lot, but I was kinda disappointed in how it went due to some knee soreness I was having. For some reason, whenever I switch back from leggings to shorts, I have issues. The leggings I have aren’t compression grade, but I do think that running tights make me alter my gait in some form or fashion and offer slight stabilization for my knees. Other than that, quite frankly, I think this blog is already doing its job! After the knee issues, I was planning to take an extra rest day, but not 3. It adds up and I feel pretty convicted.

Total mileage: 8.0 mi.

Where were we traveling, you ask? Well, we visited San Antonio for Christmas with my Grandparents, and we also went to my parents’ house near Houston on Christmas Day. We even got to walk down the Riverwalk and see some of the sights around town, including the Menger Hotel, where we took this picture in front of their tree.

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All in all, the holidays were fantastic, but the ho-ho-ho’s and hustle and bustle have left me like this:

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Christmas is my favorite holiday, but this year was just crazy! I’m looking forward to having a few more travel-free days to rest up for the new year. It’s going to be a great one!

How do you stay on track during the holidays, and how did you celebrate this year?

Cheers!

Exciting Times We Live in…

Hey y’all.

Fun updates ahead on what’s been going on with me lately – I have been working hard and have a couple of exciting opportunities to share (battling allergies/a cold this week, mind you, but still at it!).

  
First, I signed up for the Austin Half Marathon on February 14th, 2016! I am really looking forward to this race. There is an expo, and I have never been to one before. It will be the first time I have raced in Austin, and according to reviews on BibRave it’s a course with some nice scenery. It looks like the course is also a bit hilly, so that should be a fun challenge. Side note: I actually like hills because I feel like my knee doesn’t act up so much, due to the variation in muscle groups I’m using (sounds nerdy, but it’s true). We’ll see if I can squeeze out a PR, but I’m looking forward to it regardless.

  
Second, I was recently selected to join the 2016 BibRave Pro ambassador program, and I am kind of over the moon about that as well! As a BibRave Pro, I will have an awesome opportunity to try some new races and products, so I am super ecstatic about being able to share all of those experiences (with the training, racing and nifty products) with you. You should definitely check out BibRave.com… not every race is on there, but if you are trying to decide between two races, or you are on the fence about signing up for one, they have detailed, meaningful insight from other runners. Yelp and other review sites do not provide this information the same way, which is why I’ve been using BibRave as a resource for some time now. You also don’t have to have a blog to write race reviews on the site, so if you have done a couple of races and would like to share your feedback, that would be so helpful, especially as BibRave continues to grow and a variety of perspectives paints a balanced, accurate portrait of each race.

I have also been working on a gift guide and (wait for it) a GIVEAWAY! So, that’s what’s up… stay tuned for details within the next week or so.

Cheers to new opportunities in 2016! What are you looking forward to next year?

Another 13.1 in the Books

Yesterday I got out on the trail and put 13.1 miles away.

A year ago yesterday I ran my first half marathon, and yesterday, I ran my second. No crowds, medals, cameras, starting lines, or finish lines. Just me, my music and nature.With the Houston Half Marathon cancelled, I still wanted to test myself. No reason to wait for the next opportunity since I’m off of work.

It was unofficial, but I believe that the act of getting out there was what counted. I didn’t meet my time goal, which was slightly disappointing, but I did get out there when I didn’t have to, and I did finish.

With the storms that had come through, several parts of the route were actually flooded and I got some interesting photos. The weather was wonderfully cool and crisp, just cloudy enough to stay cool with the sun out. It was a great reminder of one of the things I love most about running – the opportunity to be out in nature.

Once again I felt free, and have a renewed joy for running. I love that running can be so difficult at times but it is so satisfying in the end.Oh, and I can now wear my race shirt feeling like I at least earned it.

Have you ever had a race get cancelled? How did you handle it?

Cheers to more chances to run and race!

After the Storm

As I mentioned a couple of days ago on social media, there was a 90% chance of rain on the day of my Half Marathon. Well, that chance became 100% because of a little hurricane named Patricia.

Yesterday (Saturday) was kind of a rough day. Due to the storm’s trajectory and high risk of flooding, traveling from Austin to Houston was not feasible, so I wasn’t able to make it. In the end, I was somewhat glad I didn’t risk my safety because the race ended up getting cancelled, with parts of the route underwater this morning. The rain continued all day, making it a dreary Saturday. Then, we watched the Texas A&M vs. Ole Miss game on TV, which was also a huge disappointment because the Aggies (my team) couldn’t even get a touch down. By the end of the day, I felt dejected.

However, today was a new day, and so is tomorrow. The Houston Half Marathon committee posted today that they are looking at “options” for how to move forward, so there is a chance they’ll still give us a way to earn our medal.  I got to sleep in, the cooler weather finally kicked in and it was even a bit chilly out today! And I made some delicious pot roast and had time to reflect on training this time around. Amazingly, it also appears that no one has died yet in the wake of this storm. Today offered perspective, and I have much to be thankful for.

Regardless of this weekend’s mishap, I’m planning to run 13.1 tomorrow, here in Austin. I had several great long runs over the last couple of weeks, despite being generally underprepared for the race. I want the opportunity to prove something to myself, and I have that opportunity every day.


I was reminded this weekend that even when things are tough, there is always a chance to start over, to start fresh. Your attitude dictates your opportunity and tomorrow is what you make of it.

I’m looking forward to sharing the next steps of my running journey with you, and hearing of your successes and struggles, too. And I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes tomorrow.

Cheers!

Where I’ve Been and Where I’m Going

As I mentioned over a month ago, I was going to have some exciting updates. Little did I know how much those updates were going to rock my life.

We found out at the end of August that we had the opportunity to move to Austin, so we took it and ran with it.

Austin has a lot of great career opportunity, and my husband accepted a new job that he’s excited about. Combined with it being one of the best cities for runners, having a plethora of outdoor activities, constant live music, and delish food (!), making the move was a no-brainer.

Mid-September, we moved all of our stuff from our tiny Houston apartment to the 512/ATX. I’ve been tirelessly searching for a job, and barely able to fit in regular runs. It’s derailed my training a bit, but I’m proud to say I found a new job (yay paychecks!) and am refocusing now that we can plan ahead further than the next day. I’m currently staying with my parents in H-town to finish out a bit of work before I start my new job.

Living with your parents has its drawbacks, but it’s also been nice to spend time with them before the move, knowing this precious time is temporary.

After my last day on Friday, I have 3 weeks off before I start my new job… Woo hoo!

So, that’s the short recap of what’s been going on lately.

As for my training, I’m still planning to run my half marathon on October 25 (wow… I didn’t realize that was only 20 days away until just now).

Even though I wasn’t posting about it, I was pretty diligent with training until early September and finally starting to see results. When I found out we were moving, though, I had to job search in my spare time and lose sleep to find even more spare time to pack. I’ve been trying to put in as many runs in as I can in the weeks since.


Panic hasn’t overtaken me just yet, and I completed my 11 mile run tonight. On one hand, I feel good that I can miss as many runs as I have and still crank out 11 miles. However, they were slow, tough miles, and I think my speed goal is basically out the window at this point. Maybe I’ll surprise myself, but I’m not counting on it.

While I’m a fighter and don’t like to admit defeat, I’ve resolved that I will save my goal of 11 minute miles for the next race. I’m considering running the Austin half in February, which isn’t far off.

I can’t wait to share all of the posts I was working on before this interruption. Thanks for bearing with me and please keep the next couple of weeks in your thoughts and/or prayers as they are the last of my training.

Cheers to big changes and exploring a new city! It’s been real, Houston.

 

The Next Big Thing!

Well, it’s official. I signed up for another big race.

Photo on 7-19-15 at 7.43 PM

Yes, this does call for an overly-enthusiastic, makeup-free selfie. I am proud to have the confidence to feel good about signing up for a race more than 2 months in advance. I wasn’t this confident a year, or even 6 months ago, so this is a good feeling.

I’ll be running the Houston Half Marathon on October 25. I ran this race last year and had a great time, so I’m looking forward to running it again.

I’m incorporating more speedwork into my plan, so that I can get faster, and found Hal Higdon’s intermediate plan to be a good starting point.

Because I don’t want to run 5 days a week, the plan is to replace one of the easier runs with a cross training day (kickboxing, here I come). I’ll also incorporate strength training once a week, if possible.

The training schedule on Hal’s website is also only 12 weeks, and I’m about 14 weeks out from training (well, 15 as of starting to train last week). I added a few weeks to build a more solid base and reacclamate to running in the hot, hot heat.

So, here’s my schedule:

Week 1 (14 mi.): 3.0 mi. | 30 min. tempo | 3.0 mi. | 5.0 mi.

Week 2 (15 mi.): 3.o mi. | 6 x 400 m. | 3.0 mi. |  6.0 mi.

Week 3 (16.5 mi.): 3.0 mi. | 35 min. tempo | 3.0 mi. | 7.0 mi.

Week 4 (13.5 mi.): 3.0 mi. | 5 x 400 m. | 3.0 mi. | 5.0 mi.

Week 5 (15 mi.): 3.0 mi. | 30 min. tempo | 3.0 mi. pace | 6.0 mi.

Week 6 (12.5 mi.): 3.5 mi. | 6 x 400 m. | 3.0 mi. | 5K race

Week 7 (17 mi.): 3.5 mi. | 35 min. tempo | 3.0 mi. | 7.0 mi.

Week 8 (18.5 mi.): 4.0 mi. | 7 x 400 m. | 3.0 mi. pace | 8.0 mi.

Week 9 (17 mi.): 4.0 mi. | 40 min. tempo | 3.0 mi. | 10K race

Week 10 (21.5 mi.): 4.5 mi. | 8 x 400 m. | 4.0 mi. pace | 9.0 mi.

Week 11 (23.5 mi.): 4.5 mi. | 40 min. tempo | 5.0 mi. pace | 10.0 mi.

Week 12 (21.5 mi.): 5.0 mi. | 9 x 400 m. | 3.0 mi. | 15K race

Week 13 (25.5 mi.): 5.0 mi. | 45 min. tempo | 5.0 mi. pace | 11.0 mi.

Week 14 (25 mi.): 5.0 mi. | 10 x 400 m. | 3.0 mi. | 12.0 mi.

RACE WEEK – Week 15 (21.5 mi.): 4.0 mi. | 30 min. tempo | 3.0 mi. | 13.1 RACE DAY

After marathon training, this looks very doable on paper. I’m hoping to average 11 minute miles on race day, but we’ll see how it goes. So far I’ve been very slow, so hopefully perhaps that’s because of the heat and just getting back into the swing of things.

I’m a very results-driven person, so the thought of setting a goal and not meeting it is daunting. With running especially, I have a difficult time setting a high enough goal for myself without being unrealistic. Without doing any speed training before, I’m not 100% sure how much I can expect to improve overall, but I’m hopeful that the results will be uplifting in the end. At the very least, I think I can meet last year’s goal of under 2 hours and 30 minutes.

What’s helped you get faster, and how do you gauge/set realistic athletic goals for yourself?

Cheers to half marathon #2!