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!

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.

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!