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.

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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! 😉

Training/Life Update: Free to Travel!

Man, oh man! The last 2 months have been SUCH a whirlwind. [I say this a lot, but] where has the time gone?! It’s currently April 10th, and I just finished the Cap 10K today. Once again, life has been crazy and I’ve been traveling a ton.

I honestly did not complete much formal training for the 10K. Really, I’ve only been running a couple times a week (at least 3 miles when I can get a short workout in and a 5-7 mile long run on the weekend). No real improvements to report, but I’m okay with that. The Cap 10K was my first ever 10K, so I was excited for the experience. It’s the largest 10K in Texas, with almost 20,000 participants. More on the race will come in an upcoming post.

Part of the reason for the absence of training updates/a consistent schedule is because I have been busy, busy busy, and traveling like crazy. So, instead of doing a training update, I’m going to spend time focusing on my travels over the past couple of months.

img_2732First, my trip to Waco and Magnolia Market! I took a day trip with some ladies I know through a mutual friend. If you’re not familiar with Magnolia Market, it’s the retail store owned by Joanna Gaines from HGTV’s Fixer Upper. We arrived early on a Saturday, between 9 or 10, and were fortunate that the line was nonexistent. Inside was a shabby-chic decorator’s heaven. They even sell those custom signs you see on the show in practically every house they renovate. 

The market is all about the experience; I didn’t want to spend money on everything I saw, but I enjoyed the decorations and atmosphere (like this garden area – only Joanna could make salad look this pretty).

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After we had our fill (I bought a t-shirt and a cute milk glass vase), we grabbed brunch at Cafe Cappuccino, a local Waco spot down the way. I had the BEST sweet potato pancakes; highly recommend the place if you ever find yourself in Waco. Then, it was time to drive back to Austin. I can’t wait to come back to Waco when I have more time to explore, and a house of my own to decorate. Make sure you get to Magnolia Market early though – when we left, the line was wrapped around the block to the nearest stoplight.

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Then, in February, we went away for our anniversary to Cancun. I love all-inclusive, and this was no exception. It was the perfect temperature, the food was delicious, and the drinks were on point. One of my favorite parts of the week was our actual anniversary – we adventured into the water for a snorkeling excursion that was fantastic, and ended the day with a relaxing sunset massage.

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The only thing I would have changed was I wish we could have stayed a whole week, but I was so glad we got to go to begin with. That, and I was face down in the water so long for snorkeling that my backside got a bad sunburn (oops!). It was really nice to get away with no responsibilities. Just the beautiful white sand, crystal clear water, and of course, my wonderful husband.


Finally, my spring travels ended with a trade show in Chicago. I’d never been to Chicago and it was incredible. It reminds me a lot of New York City, but much cleaner and with friendlier people. I had a few hours off to explore one afternoon, so I got to walk from my hotel to The Bean/Cloud Gate. I looked like a total tourist, I’m sure, because I was taking pictures of the Magnificent Mile the whole time (see below). The architecture was just so cool – art deco details, classic sculptures, modern skyscrapers – there was a little bit of everything.

And then, there was the Giordano’s pizza. That was also fantastic. I’d sneak some back for every pre-race carbloading session if it were possible.

They even have a Garmin store – I’ve never seen one of those before!

Other than working and getting plugged into a church, that’s the majority of what I’ve been up to. I love to travel – it’s freeing to immerse yourself in another place – but I’m also glad to be home for awhile and continue settling in Austin.

Did you do any traveling this Spring? Where’d you go?

Cheers to exploring the world, through running and otherwise! 🙂

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.

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. 

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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!