Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas Half Marathon – Race Recap and Review

Disclosure: I received a complimentary entry to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas Half Marathon 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.

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Dallas, Texas. Having a work event last Saturday in none other than Dallas, Texas added a little extra motivation to make the trip worthwhile, so I was thrilled to sign up!

Rock ‘n’ Roll is an international race series that’s unique due to the live music throughout the course. It was so much fun to run the Austin Half last year and enjoy all the live music, so I knew I’d have a great time at this race.

Pre-Race

Sign ups were easy and there was ample communication beforehand, though it was almost information overload!


The expo, what I saw of it, was expansive and really nice. Lots of great Brooks gear was available, and I really wish I would have had some time to stop and shop. I grabbed a few quick pics and that was that.

However, the caveat is that one must physically be present to pick up their packet, which was buried on the website (and I looked because I had to plan due to my work obligations). I had planned to have my husband visit the expo to make sure I got my packet in case anything came up; then, I’d stop by after I finished working. I went to print out my confirmation sheet, which you MUST have to pickup your packet, and saw this printed at the top. I had to leave work to make sure I got over to the convention center to pick it up, and was in and out in under 10 minutes. My main piece of constructive criticism is this: if you’re going to have a lot of information, don’t over communicate on the ordinary.

Race Day!

Race day morning was pretty easy. An 8 a.m. start time allowed an extra hour of sleep. We used an app called Parking Panda to reserve a spot in a paid lot. While I appreciated that the race offered this option, I think we could have found parking elsewhere.

The start line was bustling, and RnR Dallas was definitely one of the largest races I’ve participated in. Downtown Dallas also provided a lot of photo ops! The corrals were clearly marked and staggered a minute apart. They had a spirited couple of emcees that kept the mood going, and kept each group excited. I loved the way they did this. My group made it up to the starting line and we took off in the near-70 degree heat.

The course itself was pretty tough – lots and lots of hills, including one part where you run up an on-ramp to get to a highway bridge. You literally run under the path of the bridge. But the view at the top was pretty sweet, I’ve gotta say! However, the hills combined with the heat made for a tough race.

A recommendation this brings to light is to add another water station for warmer climates. There were people passed out on the side of the road. That shouldn’t happen, and with a race that’s sometimes charging over 100 dollars for admission, I’d expect a bit more attention to this.

Throughout the course, I was encouraged by all of the music and surprises on the course. Of course, the music was fantastic (I’d actually rather them sacrifice a little there to have another water station). There were also dedicated cheer stations, lots of spectators and even stilt performers – that was such a delight.

While I thought I could grasp a PR at one point, the heat got the best of me and I didn’t have any more energy to gun it the last few miles. The final stretch was bliss – downhill to the finish line and a street lined with people; up one last miserable hill and it was over!

Post Race Party

The finish line festival was put together nicely. I enjoyed the live music and ample space. and it was also nice to have chocolate milk waiting there when I finished; it’s one of my favorite post-run indulgences.

Swag was cool too! I really like the fit and design of the shirt; the medium fits me perfectly. I will wear it a lot! And the medal was nice – fitting because the post race party takes place right in front of the actual Dallas “ball.”


Overall, this was a good race, but there were just a couple things that would make it better! Due to the lack of water stations, I wouldn’t recommend this for a first-timer. This is a bummer, because everything else is pretty awesome! I also think the lack of effective communication is disappointing. I expect more of a race that has the resources to fine tune the most important details to communicate. I still would recommend this race to a friend!

Cheers to the unexpected challenges of each race day!

They Pulled out All the Stops: BCS Marathon Review

Disclosure: I received a complimentary race entry for the BCS Marathon 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.

When I attended school at Texas A&M (can I get an “a-whoop!?”), I had several friends slave away to run the BCS Marathon. I always thought it would be cool to run a half, but never, in a million years, did I see myself running a full.

Because I couldn’t even run three miles at the time.

Four years later, and I’m back to do just that. Funny how life works.

Anyway, enough about me. Let’s cut to the chase. I’m here today to review the BCS Marathon in College Station, Texas.


Pre-Race

A turn of events caused us to be in Austin late Saturday before the race, so I actually wasn’t able to attend the expo. Head over to Live Slow Run Fast if you would like a better idea of what that was like.

I can provide more feedback on the pre-race morning experience. Being in College Station, parking is a non-issue. There are a variety of hotels close to the start line at Post Oak Mall, so I was able to sleep in until a glorious 5 a.m. alarm. We left our hotel around 6:15 and parked by about 6:25. It was just a short walk to the start line, where I met up with Jessica. I noticed there were plenty of porta potties as we made our way to the start line – there was hardly even a line!


The Gun Goes Off

Soon enough, it was time to run. Jessica and I ran together for the first 5 miles or so; it’s always a pleasure to get to run with a friend. We went our separate ways and it started to look like I just might be able to pull off a 5 hour marathon.

The route was scenic and ran all over the Bryan/College Station area. We ran through the historic neighborhoods, then moved on to downtown Bryan. Later on, we made our way out to the Tradition’s golf course, which offered more nature/scenic views. Finally, we ran back to campus as people started to hit the dreaded “wall.” It’s planned perfectly because student organizations come out to cheer people on and staff aid stations. And everyone wants to be near campus, so they are really excited!

I truly appreciated the pacers. At my first marathon, there were no pacers for the full marathon, which felt lonely toward the end. I’m sure it’s quite rare for a marathon so small (less than 1,000) to have pacers. The attention to detail really helped me stay motivated. The 5:15 pacer and I kept passing each other, and he was super cool. The marathon relay group also made the course feel a lot less empty, which was well-planned.

Aid stations were also fabulous. They all had water and Gatorade, as well as medical staff (with Vaseline for chafing). Every few aid stations, they offered food – Gu, orange slices, bananas, gummy candies, etc. The race was small enough that the stations weren’t crowded, either.

Personally, I didn’t hit the wall until about mile 21, because there were barely any hills. My race felt pretty great the whole way, but at mile 21, my leg started to cramp. I stayed the course, got some Tylenol and drank some Gatorade at the next [perfectly-timed] aid station, and was able to power through the rest of the race.

I had to make it up one last hill to the 26 mile marker, and then I sprinted back downhill to finish.


Finisher Party (and boy, was it time to part-ay)

The finish line crowd was also spirited, as was the announcer (who high-fived me). It felt like a much larger race. Immediately after crossing, I was able to find my husband and parents, who had come in from out of town. I received my beautiful medal, banged the PR gong (heck yeah, 20 minute personal record), and headed to the party.

The post-race party was filled with food and goodies. It was easy to find my finisher jacket, which was also pretty well-made. There were pizza rolls, beer, margaritas, breakfast tacos, the list goes on. It was just awesome. I also liked that there was a little bit of a walk back to the parking lot from Wolf Pen Creek, where the party was. It helped me to cool down, which I too often do not do.

Overall, I would recommend the BCS Marathon to anyone.

It’s almost as well done as the big ones, but with a small town heart. There is truly something for everyone. Plus, Aggies are very friendly, and that spirit proved true for this race.

However, due to the race occurring during the holiday season, I would personally appreciate a packet mailing option; yes, running a marathon is obviously a huge deal, but it’s the time of year where things come up. It would have been helpful to have a way to work that out.


Well, I did it, you guys! I ran my second marathon – the BCS Marathon. Did not know how I was going to make it at times, but I did. With a final time of 5:21:38, BCS was the fastest marathon I’ve run yet. It was also a great value for the price; marathons are expensive, but they pulled out all the stops, just like at a larger race.

Cheers to marathon PR’s in your old hometown.

Nutrabolt Oktoberfest Half Marathon Recap and Review

Disclosure: I received a complimentary race entry for the Nutrabolt Oktoberfest Half Marathon 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.

As most of you know, I’ve been training for the BCS Marathon, with the Nutrabolt Oktoberfest Half Marathon as a bit of a benchmark midway through. This past weekend (October 16) I finally made my way up to College Station for the race. Not only did I look forward to seeing how my former home has changed, but also to experience a city that I haven’t seen yet on the run. 

Pre-race

The race did a great job of communicating updates leading up to the race, through emails and social media. They also ran several giveaways with their sponsors on Facebook, which kept race goers engaged with the page. Actually, this is incredibly smart, because if timely messages need to be communicated, any page must have an active audience for Facebook to push out content.

img_4099In terms of the expo, it was held at the Nutrabolt headquarters. There were only 4 booths in total, including Nutrabolt’s area and the race packet pickup – not exactly what I’d call an expo. While signup and packet pickup were easy, the expo wasn’t anything to write home about. However, since there is no other way to pick up your packet for this race, it must be done!

Side note: we stayed at the Holiday Inn. It was clean, comfy and a 10 minute drive from the race. The staff were also friendly and accommodating.

Racing time!

The race starts at 7, but it’s a good idea to aim to be at the start line by 6:30, if you are meeting people, no later than 6:45 if you are riding solo. Parking and walking takes an extra 10ish minutes. You must pass through the underground tunnel leading to the start line before 6:45 to make it on time (it’s part of the race course).

Porta potty lines were as expected; there are plenty for the number of race participants, but there is always a line. Anyway, there were tons of announcements and of course the national anthem, the Aggie fight song (whoop!), and a prayer. Just get there early if you want to chat or use the bathroom. Unfortunately, I was running late… between all of the announcements, Erica at Another Half Please and I couldn’t snag much of a pre-race conversation, but we did catch up the first mile of the race and afterward. The race started, and we were off!

The first several miles of the course, we caught a view of the most beautiful sunrise as we ran through campus. That always makes the early mornings worthwhile. The course itself was fairly flat, with mild hills. For this Austinite, the course wasn’t particularly challenging.

The race field was not too big, and not too small (about 650 total for the half). There was no crowding on the course. The aid stations were consistently every 1.5 miles, and they were staffed with pleasant, friendly volunteers. I did not see any long lines for porta potties either; just 1 or 2 people total in line at a time, so they had an appropriate amount. They even placed Gu’s appropriately at around miles 4 and 10, as wells as oranges and bananas. This is a nice touch and an area where the race excelled. Any race I’ve attended that has fuel on the course puts it at mile 7 – kinda late to start fueling for a half. At the end of the course, where the path winds through a residential neighborhood, volunteers stood throughout to guide runners (also much appreciated)!

Finishing strong…

In terms of my time goal, I tried not to set one until I felt it out. Race morning was sunny and between 71 and 75 degrees. I did well before the sun was overhead. I tried to push myself in the last half to see if I could at least finish between 2:25-2:30. The heat got the better of me and I had to finish conservatively. I ultimately finished at 2:36:12. Not Austin 2016 at all, but I’m happy to have finished uninjured and enjoyed the experience overall. The finish line was also inside Kyle Field, which was really neat. I didn’t stay in there long though, because I was ready to get out of the sun and into the post race party. 

My face after my husband found me, drenched in sweat!

Post Race – Time to party!

One of my favorite parts of the Nutrabolt Half was the post race party. Karbach beer was on tap (4 different types). It would have been nice to have a cider choice available, especially to serve gluten-free folks. However, I sat down with a wheat beer, Weisse Versa, which was refreshing and appropriate, as my time in College Station was the peak of my beer drinking days. For runners, they also had pretzels and bratwurst, complementing the Oktoberfest theme, in addition to the other runner food staples of bananas, muffins, etc. There was only a line for beer, which also made it easy to enjoy the party!

This recap cannot be complete without a note on the wonderful swag we received. Before the race, we received a nice Nutrabolt bag (similar to lululemon shopping totes). Inside the bag were a couple of FitJoy bars, and a large beach towel. After the race, we received a super soft, triblend finisher’s shirt, a ceramic beer stein and a sweet medal. Even though none of these pieces were super technical, they are actually pieces that I will use outside of running, which is awesome. I prefer to get a few quality pieces of non-running swag than one tech shirt/jacket that is not made well, because I’ll just never use it! I’ve been wearing the t-shirt to sleep in all week, actually.

Overall, it was worth the trip to Aggieland; I will absolutely make the trip back if given the opportunity in the future. Thanks again to the race director for making this possible. I’m excited to return to C-Stat for my 2nd marathon in December.

Today’s question – what was your hottest race experience?

Cheers to “fall” races in Texas (and the beers that follow)!

 

Body Glide Review – Protect Your Skin this Summer

Disclosure: I received a sample of Body Glide Original Anti-Chafing Balm 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.

Let’s be real here: not only are most people slightly embarrassed by chafing, but it is also physically uncomfortable. Luckily, I’ve never seen a community to talk so openly about chafing as the running community. Through the openness of other runners, I found out about Body Glide Original Anti-Chafing Balm, and it’s one of the products I’ve been using almost as long as I’ve been running, especially because I live in a climate that is so warm year-round.

I first realized how much I needed an anti-chafing product when I was in the thick of training for my first marathon. I came home from a long run and jumped in the shower, and that’s when I realized that unbeknownst to me, I had succumbed to chafing (ow!). So that’s when I purchased my first tube of Body Glide.

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So what is Body Glide exactly?

Well, it is an anti-chafing and anti-blister balm, and it’s really as simple as that. Rather than gels, Vasoline, or powders that can be messy and stain your clothes, it creates a dry, transparent barrier to protect your skin from the constant rubbing that can be so painful. Since using Body Glide, I believe I have been saved from not just many instances of chafing, but also blisters as well.

Body Glide is easy to apply – their unique formula goes on just like deodorant (picture that scene in Juno where Paulie Bleeker looks like he is putting deodorant on his legs).

I find it’s easiest to apply Body Glide before you put on your running clothes, hence the bathroom photos.

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See? It’s all over my leg and you can’t see it.

Even though it’s easy to apply, the balm is also long-lasting. As it took almost 6 hours for me to finish my first marathon, it’s safe to say that I am by no means a fast runner. However, even though it took a long time for me to finish, Body Glide lasted the entire time and my skin was left unscathed.

In addition to how well it works, how it’s made is also an aspect that sets Body Glide apart from the rest of anti-chafe products. Body Glide is free of a lot of ingredients that can clog your pores and irritate your skin.

And it has a pretty clean label… see for yourself:

  • Made with plant-derived ingredients
  • Petroleum-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Lanolin-free
  • Mineral oil-free
  • Allergen-free
  • Vegan-friendly
  • Never tested on animals
  • Child-safe

Really, in addition to Body Glide being a great product, the thoughtfulness that has gone into how its made is something I value as well. I appreciate that they have thought of active people with diverse needs with their manufacturing processes. I also like that the formula is non-drying (my skin tends to dry out easily), while still remaining breathable.

Chaffeychafe

If there is anything I would change about Body Glide, it’s that I have a hard time making sure I have covered an area thoroughly. Of course, this a small price to pay for something that is so easy to apply, transparent and does not stain your clothes. To make sure I am covered, I try to be generous during application. I run over the area with the palm of my hand to ensure I did not miss a spot.

To purchase Body Glide for yourself, visit BodyGlide.com. Different sizes are available ranging from reasonable prices of $5.49 – $14.99. If you have sensitive skin/want to test it before purchasing a larger tube, I’d recommend buying one of the smaller sizes to make sure it works best for you.

To wrap this up, I’ll ask a silly question for today. What’s your funniest chafing story? Let me know in the comments. 😉

Cheers to being chafe-free!

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! 😉

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.

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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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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.

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!

Becoming a Runner Step 1: It’s in the Shoes

In case you live under a rock missed it, it’s 2016, folks! For many people (myself included), the New Year is a reminder to get serious about accomplishing goals. My visit to the gym today reminded me how many people promise to themselves to get fit each year; however, many resolutions go unaccomplished by December. I think the reason why is that people lack practical advice on how to achieve these goals. Whether you’ve decided to get fit this year, or you want to accomplish a goal like a half marathon, I wanted to share some of my experiences to help you become a successful runner beyond the month of January.
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I’ve learned that the first thing you should do before doing any kind of running is finding the right shoes. Here’s how:

Don’t just search the internet for shoe reviews… Go to a store that has a specific section for running (like Luke’s Locker, Road Runner Sports, or any locally-owned running store) and get fitted.

Set a reasonable budget for yourself. Especially the first time you get fitted, this isn’t the place to cheap out. For me personally, I try to stay under $120, and if you have neverdone this before, $100 budget is about the lowest budget I would set. That’s a lot of money, but when you factor in the advice you are paying for and the ability to try a range of styles and price points to find out what works, it is worth it. It is waste of money to purchase a pair that doesn’t work for you, and you could potentially injure yourself.

Set aside an hour or so for this endeavor, and wear athletic clothes. The first time I got fitted, I went on my lunch break in business casual attire. This was not the best decision, because you will likely have to run/walk around the store. The associate needs to be able to see your gait and the way your feet move when you run.

Bring in your current running or athletic shoes. Being able to review the wear patterns on your soles also helps the associate to see how you walk or run.

Here are some great examples of the wisdom I have acquired during my shoe fittings over the past 2 years:

  • My foot pattern and arch height: I underpronate. Underpronation is a typical pattern for people with high arches, so I assumed I had high arches; however, I have low to normal arches.
  • Correct shoe size: Running shoes should be 1-2 sizes larger than your normal shoe size and have about an inch between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. I normally wear a 6.5-7, and I wear an 8-8.5.
  • Fit/feel: The shoes you wear should “feel like you’re running on a slipper;” they should feel comfortable to you!
  • Correct shoe type: There are different foot patterns, and different types of shoes. For example, I wear a neutral shoe because I underpronate. Having a neutral foot pattern is different, and it doesn’t mean you should wear neutral shoes.
  • Looks (they don’t matter): Color shouldn’t be the deciding factor, but if you really like a shoe and they don’t carry your favorite color in the store, it may be possible for the associate to order it online.
  • Price: If you have a strict budget, local stores can sometimes offer discounts to meet your budget. They have a vested interest in making sure you pick a shoe you are happy with.

Finally, enjoy the experience. You’ll rarely find a sales person at a department store invested in which shoes you pick, for running or otherwise. These associates care and can offer great encouragement and advice.

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Your new shoes should last anywhere from 200 – 500 miles. If you want a long-lasting shoe, be sure to tell the person who gives you a fitting. My shoes above are still going strong, from treadmill to trail, at almost 400 miles (can you believe they’ve seen a marathon and half marathon?). Keep a log of your miles to determine when it’s time to replace. If you start having random injuries, then it’s definitely time.

Once I find a shoe I LOVE, I stick with it for as long as I can. I found my Brooks Ghost 7’s and I have been able to purchase discounted pairs online. Expensive initially, but they work for me and now I’m able to save some money. That’s why the fitting was so important!

Any advice I missed? Please feel free to leave it in the comments below! This will be the first in a series of blog posts this month, so please check back for more tips.

Cheers to the New Year!

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.