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!

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.

HC_hotchocolatefinishline

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

POST-RACE:

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

HC_hotchocolatemedal

HC_finishermug

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

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

Have you ever surprised yourself during a race?

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

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.

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.
FTR_Shoes360

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.

FTR_Shoes_TracktoTrail

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.

 

2015 Holiday Gift Guide – For the Furball

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I will receive a small amount of monetary compensation if you end up purchasing something from one of the links. All opinions are my own.

If you’re an animal lover like I am, you understand how important it is to include your pet in all possible activities. With my puppy, I couldn’t imagine leaving her out of our Christmas festivities! I can’t wait to watch her rip up the paper on her gifts (as long as she doesn’t eat it, of course).

Puppy HGG FTR_Final

So, here are the gifts Daisy will be getting under the tree this year.

  1. Chaco Dog Collar and Leash ($15, $20)
    Cute and durable? What could be better. This set is perfect for runners because the leash is adjustable, and you can clip it around your waist while you’re running.
  2. Kong Wubba ($7.49-$13.99)
    I love Kong toys. Daisy is a strong chewer and they seem to last far longer than the others. The Wubba has a built-in squeaker and will also work well for tug and fetch because of the ball and tail, so it’s almost like 3 toys in one.
  3. Best Hikes with Dogs Book ($17.95)
    What could your dog use more of? Quality time with you, of course! And what could we all use more of? Exercise! Give your pup the gift of a great bonding experience and give yourself a good cross training workout.
  4. Ruffwear Front Range Dog Harness ($39.95)
    I’ve heard wonderful things about Ruffwear products, and when I have looked at them in the store, everything I have heard has been accurate. This harness will stand up to the test of time. Another great feature is that it can be attached to the leash at the front or back, so if you’re training your dog not to pull, you have options. Another thing I love about this harness is that it’s the same price, whether your dog is a teacup or a giant.
  5. Soggy Doggy Super Shammy ($19.99)
    Whether or not you buy this for Christmas, this is something every dog owner needs. Sometimes, getting your pup wet when they go outside for a bathroom break is unavoidable. This product makes it simple to prevent your dog from “shaking it out” and getting water everywhere in your house. It soaks up water like crazy.
  6. Hear Doggy Ultrasonic Squeaker Toy ($12.99)
    Like having a dog, but you also like peace and quite from time to time? Well, this make it possible for you to enjoy your Netflix binge, while keeping your puppy occupied. They even have tougher fabric for strong chewers (and it definitely lasts longer than most plush toys).
  7. Home Verve Ultimate Foldable Bowls ($22.99)
    You don’t have to use these for your pet, but I would! These make traveling or camping so much easier. Metal bowls can take up so much space, and they aren’t practical if your dog gets thirsty in the car or after a run.
  8. Barkbox Subscription ($29 – $19, depending on how many months you buy)
    It’s okay to spoil your dog. If you already spend this amount of money on your furry friend each month, why not have it delivered to your door? Plus, Barkbox gives back to pups in need, donating a portion of their profits to charity, so it’s a win-win.
  9. Digesteeze Rawhides ($19.99)
    Rawhides get a bad rap, and for some of them, rightfully so. However, Daisy goes crazy for them. These dissolve and do not break off into tiny pieces like some of the brands we have tried. We still supervise her at all times when she uses them, and we don’t let her eat one in a sitting, but they are great if you are responsible with them.
  10. Brindle Memory Foam Dog Bed ($79 – $159)
    Don’t let yourself be shocked by the sticker price, you can get these wonderful memory foam beds with a washable cover for much less on Amazon. They come in so many different colors to fit with your decor, and the sizes are also perfect for crates.

 

What are your favorite products to spoil your pooch/running buddy with?

Cheers!

 

P.S. Last-minute shopper? With Amazon Prime you can get these gifts in time for Christmas if you order today! Check it out here: Amazon Prime (One Year Membership)

2015 Holiday Gift Guide – For Him (+ a Giveaway!)

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I will receive a small amount of monetary compensation if you end up purchasing something from one of the links. I also received a pair of XX2i Sunglasses to review 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.

Don’t forget: I’m giving away a pair of Feetures Elite Socks and Camelbak eddy Water Bottle to celebrate the holidays. Enter at the link below… then check out the rest of the guide!

ENTER HERE!

2015_HGG for Him Men_Final

Why is it that guys are always SO tough to shop for? I just ordered a bunch of Chris’ gifts… who knew shopping on the same Amazon account could be so confusing. Keeping things in your shopping cart is a giveaway when you share a computer!

I’m hoping to help solve part of that problem for you with my top picks for him. Good luck! 😉

  1. Yeti Rambler Tumbler ($64)
    My dad loves his Yeti tumbler. He uses it all the time to keep his Dr. Pepper cold on the way to work. Apparently, you can leave ice in it overnight and it will stay cold… but it also works well for a morning cup of Jo and fits in most car cup holders!
  2. XX2i Optics USA1 Sunglasses (Originally $59.99, 50% off with code: XX2iRocks)
    Your guy will thank you for these, let me tell you! They are very high quality, come in a variety of colors, have interchangeable lenses and (most importantly) do not fog up, so he can wear them for running or pretty much anything else.
  3. Under Armour Men’s Short Sleeve Tech Shirt ($24.99)
    If there is one thing I’ve learned about guys, it’s that they like simplicity. This tech shirt is a good ole standby, and it comes in almost every color, so you can find one that suits him perfectly.
  4. Asics Performance Everyday Shorts ($46)
    Perfect for running, basketball, or lounging around on a Saturday, these shorts are a fashionable length and lightweight. I like that they are tailored well, but still loose and athletic looking. They may show up under our tree this year, but my husband will just have to wait and see!
  5. Bose SoundSport In Ear Headphones ($129)
    Do you know a guy who is picky about sound? I do! In all seriousness, he IS a musician, and these are his headphones of choice. They stay in well when working out, cancel noise, and have great sound quality.
  6. Kelty Acadia Six Person Tent ($289.95)
    Give him the gift of an outdoor trip, together! The six person tent is actually plenty of space for two people (and a dog) with an air mattress. If you or your guy doesn’t want to rough it too much, this is a reasonably priced way to have a fun, but active weekend in the wilderness.
  7. Leatherman Wave Multitool ($93)
    You can’t go wrong with tools. This one will give him everything he needs in one handy place.
  8. Head Digital Sport Running Gloves ($12.99)
    One thing that guys often forget they need is gloves! These will go with his winter coat, and his running apparel. They are compatible with smart phone screens, so he won’t have to take them off to type. They aren’t too pricy, either, so if he loses them, you’re not out an arm and a leg.
  9. Stanley Classic Insulated Growler ($50)
    For the beer drinker (or the iced tea drinker), this growler offers a convenient method of keeping drinks sealed and cold for up to 24 hours. It’s a simple way for him to take some of the beer with him when he visits his favorite brewery, for enjoyment at home later in the day.
  10. Patagonia Men’s Synchilla Snap T Fleece Pullover ($119)
    This versatile wardrobe piece can be worn with casual clothes, work clothes (for some offices), and even athletic clothes. It is available in several classic colors (and prints for the more daring), and is super warm and soft – it might even take the place of his favorite hoodie!

Anything else that’s under your tree?

Cheers to this wonderful season of giving.

 

Now Playing – Funky and Fun Running Playlist

FTR Funky Run
When I’ve had a long day at work and I still have to log a few miles, I need a solid list of pump up songs that just make me feel like smiling.

That’s why I made this playlist. Super fun, super catchy, with a hint of bubble gum pop, funk, classics and nothing too crazy. I’m not a really big popular music fan, but some songs just stick with you, and I’m totally okay with that. Good for the treadmill or the track.

Watch out though, you might catch yourself cheesin’ big time mid-run (not that that’s EVER happened to me or anything).

What are your favorite songs to jam out to?

A Thief Named Comparison

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

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

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

FTR Theo Roosevelt Quote Smaller

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

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

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

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

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

February Training Update – Highs and Lows

February Marathon Training Update  Free To Run Blog

February? Yes, February. 😉 I know I am slightly delayed but there were so many things that happened in February (and March) that I wanted to make a point to share these with you all. So, here we go.

To sum February up in one word, I choose the word “dynamic.” February was full of highs and lows, and I feel like I grew a lot as a runner and a person.

In the interest of disclosure, I should note that this post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using this link.

 

 

Week 10: 3 mi. | 8 mi. | 4 mi. | 16 mi.
Completed a hilly run in Austin and felt pretty good after. Overall, I felt pretty confident ant it was a good week.

Week 11: 4 mi. | 8 mi. | 5 mi. | 12 mi. 11 mi.
This week was where I started having some injury/fueling issues. Everything started out great. As I mentioned previously, I had some really bad cramps in  from my left knee all the way up to my rear end… and they wouldn’t go away. I figured this was a result of poor fueling technique. Since this incident, I’ve been working on taking fuel earlier in my runs and this seems to have helped me avoid similar situations.

Week 12: 4 mi. | 9 mi. | 5 mi. | 18 mi. 16 mi.
My toe started bugging me a lot, and then it all kinda went downhill. With the issues I was having with my left leg, and now my toe, I decided to skip the 9 miler. Then, when I ran my long run on Saturday, everything came to a head. I felt pretty good the first 12 of 18 planned miles and even knocked the whole first half out on the treadmill (when it is thundering out, I often take runs indoors and alternate between the track and the treadmill to keep myself mentally stimulated). The last 4 miles (12 to 16) were dreadful. My knee started to hurt and a tendon on the back of my right leg, near my knee, was killing me. I was taking walk breaks and limping. I finally threw in the towel – I couldn’t even walk and it was not worth it to me to injure myself!

I’ve cut runs short to avoid pain, but never had a pain that made me feel nearly incapacitated. Limping downstairs, I made it to the ladies’ room just in time to call my husband – and start bawling. I was hysterical. I had nothing left. I literally couldn’t run anymore and I didn’t know what to do. It sounds childish now, but that was the state I was in; I felt as if this goal that was so close to becoming a reality was imploding on itself, like my body was rejecting my ambition.

He almost had to come pick me up because I didn’t want to walk out to my car, but I eventually pulled myself together and limped out to my vehicle. I explained it all to him when I had calmed down at home (I was so hysterical and we decided I should take a couple days off to see if I felt like I needed to see the doctor. He was very supportive and I would not still be training if he hadn’t just listened and help me calm back down that day.

The next day was our first anniversary and it was a wonderful day. See what I mean about ups and downs?

Week 135 mi. | 9 mi. | 5 mi. 2.5 mi. | 14 mi.
After taking some days off and trying to run, but still having issues, it dawned on me to try new shoes, since mine had 350+ miles. After visiting Luke’s Locker and walking out with a new pair of Brooks Ghost 7’s, I ran 14 pain-free miles (and I’ve been relatively pain-free ever since). All that time, my shoes were worn out. ALL THAT TIME. I should have had a V8.

Have you ever had something like this happen in running – something that was so obvious, you should have known immediately what the issue was?

The rest of the month, in photos: 

Spring flowers are my favorite and were enjoyed all month long.

I bought my first tube of Body Glide.

My new shoes, which I am IN LOVE with.

The rodeo came through town during one of my runs, seriously. #Texas, y’all.

… and I got to see a pretty sweet sunset on another run.

Chris and I had some great date nights and a blissful month of celebrating a year of marriage…

… and we enjoyed some great carbo-loading brunches. Yum.

It’s officially the week of my marathon. Excited to get my last update post up and some other fun stuff this week before it happens! Stay tuned. 🙂

Cheers!