Race Recap: Flying Horse Half Marathon

Half Marathon #3 is in the books!!

On Saturday I did the Flying Horse Half Marathon. I loved it! I’m not sure I would have said that on Saturday, but I’ve had some time to reflect on it. The more I look back, the more I loved this race!

So. Onto the recap:

 

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Friday, I was determined to do my best to prepare because I wanted to keep the 12 mile disaster run from happening again. I made sure I hydrated. I drank TWO WHOLE bottles of water. (Shut up. That’s a lot for me.) And, I made sure to eat a quality lunch and dinner. Pei Wei is becoming my pre-long run go-to dinner for the night before.

On Saturday, I woke up before my alarm went off, but I laid in bed until the last minute. The race had kind of a late start (8:00 AM) and it was down the street so I wasn’t feeling all that rushed. As I got ready, I ate a handful of oatmeal squares (the cereal) and tried to sip some water. Soon enough, Matt and I left for the race track. Matt didn’t run (someday I’ll convince him to try long distance running), but he is a good sport and got up early to come cheer me on.

We got there at about 7:15. I wanted to be able to find parking, use the restroom, and generally not feel rushed. I did not account for the fact that this race is tiny. Parking, getting to the race area, finding a porta-potty, none of those things were an issue. It all went really smoothly. We even saw Amy and her husband right away when we pulled in. Then were was a lot of nervous pacing while Matt tried to get me to sit down on a bench. I’m not sure why I was so nervous, but I was.

Finally, it was time to line up and get started. I found Amy again and we ended up lining up towards the back. Which is fine by me, because it helps me to not go out too fast. Amy and I had previously decided our race plan was to start conservative then aim for negative splits. After the National Anthem and the race instructions we were off!

Starting line!
Starting line!

The first mile and the last mile of the race take place on a horse race track. I was ridiculously excited about this part. Mostly because it is unique, and how many people can say they have run on a race track? The dirt was softer than I expected but not so soft that I was worried about it. Also, I did not realize how long the track would be! For me, the length of the track would be the bigger hurdle than the softness of the dirt when we came back around for the last mile.

Soon enough we were out on the street and settling into a good stride. There is pretty much zero crowd support, but I wasn’t expecting much. As we were coming up on a turn, I saw a guy sitting in a chair with a sign. It said something about “If this were easy, it would be called your mother” Ha. It took me a minute, but I realized it was Amy’s husband holding the sign! (He got back from Afghanistan a couple days earlier, so YAY!). He made an appearance at a later mile with a different sign. He convinced her he was going to sleep in the car, so it was fun to see him surprise her.

Amy and I were chatting away and the miles were ticking by. We kept going without incident until mile 7 or so. I took out a Clif Shot Blok as we were coming up on a water table. I tried to chew and run, but instead inhaled a half-chewed blok. So, moral of the story, maybe walk and chew next time.

My knees and hip flexors were starting to ache, and I was mentally starting to break down. But looking back on our splits, you wouldn’t be able to tell. As it has happened in the past, mile 11 is the hardest for me. By that time, I am just kind of over it, my hip flexors hurt, I was getting hot, and I was ready to be done. As much as I was grumbling about “being over it” we kept picking people off. Running really is more mental than anything. Your legs can handle it, you just have to convince your mind of that.

Finally, we were back on the race track. The soft dirt made it hard to really pick up the pace, but I tried to run on the packed down part. We must have passed 7 or 8 people in that last mile, and it helped to focus on beating the person in front of me instead of how long that stupid track was. We waved at Matt as we were heading into the final stretch, and then it was over!

Waving to Matt. Looking happier than I felt.
Waving to Matt. Looking happier than I felt.

I remember grabbing my medal, some water, finding Matt, and just wanting to sit down. We chatted for a bit longer, took some pictures, then headed out. I was hungry and getting grumpy because I wanted food. In case you were wondering, breakfast tacos from Taco Cabana are the best post-race breakfast.

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Our splits (according to Amy’s Garmin):

  • Mile 1 – 10:21
  • Mile 2 – 10:09
  • Mile 3 – 10:08
  • Mile 4 – 10:25
  • Mile 5 – 10:19
  • Mile 6 – 10:13
  • Mile 7 – 9:58
  • Mile 8 – 10:00
  • Mile 9 – 9:53
  • Mile 10 – 9:57
  • Mile 11 – 9:52
  • Mile 12 – 9:55
  • Mile 13 – 9:29
    • 12:95 miles total
  • Official time: 2:10:11

I’m really proud of our splits! I think we did an excellent job sticking to our race plan and we ran pretty evenly. I’m not sure I had it in me to go faster, but maybe the next one….

Finished!
Finished!

Leading up to the race and immediately after, I was looking forward to taking a break from “training” and focusing on general fitness. I told Matt on the way home that I wanted to maintain a 6-8 mile long run on the weekend and a couple shorter runs during the week, but I didn’t want to have a race or a training plan for the remainder of our time in El Paso. That was on Saturday. Now, it’s Wednesday and I have already looked up possibly doing the Fort Bliss Half in January or the El Paso Half in February. I’m also considering the Bataan Death March if we are still here in March. So…I have a problem? haha….

Training and Race Plan [Flying Horse Edition]

Tomorrow is race day!

I am definitely feeling more excited today than I have all week. Maybe because I am going to the race site after work to pick up my bib and packet. There is also a small expo so maybe I’ll even find something fun to buy.

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Training:

I am not super excited about how this training cycle went. I felt pretty…meh…the whole time. I didn’t skip any of the runs, but there were several that I made a little shorter or a little slower than the plan called for. Then there was the disastrous 12 miler a couple of weeks ago. This was my first time using the Run Less, Run Faster to train for a race. I have very mixed feelings about it. On one hand, I love the idea of running 3x a week. I really like speed work (well, it’s a love/hate thing), and it is a very challenging training plan. I can tell I’m more fit now than I was when I first started which isn’t always the case when I’m only running slow, easy runs. On the other hand, it is a very challenging training plan. Sometimes I just wanted to run easy and not worry about hitting a certain pace for a certain amount of time. This also called for some planning as I would have to drive to a park or running path to complete these runs. Will I attempt the RLRF method again? Probably. But not while I’m living in El Paso.

The other thing that I never quite got figured out is my fueling and nutrition. To be honest, this is not something I have ever given a lot of thought. Sure, I’ve learned that my stomach prefers chews to gels, but I figured that out a couple of years ago. My during-the-run fueling hasn’t really changed much. It works for me. What I am struggling to figure out is my general nutrition before and after a run. It is really hitting me that I am getting older. I remember when I would eat Taco Bell on my way to soccer practice with no issues. Now, eating more than half a granola bar 45 minutes before starting my run upsets my stomach. Finding a balance of how much of what to eat has been a struggle.

Goals:

I don’t have a specific time goal for this race. In the beginning, I was toying with going for a PR (current half marathon PR is 2:07:49). Nut, after a mediocre training cycle I am not sure I have that in me. I won’t rule it out because crazy shit can happen on race day, but it isn’t going to be part of my race strategy. That being said, I would love to finish under 2:15:00 (my race time from Big D last year).

Race Plan:

Amy and I decided to start conservatively and aim for negative splits as we go depending on how it goes. I feel good about that. This course is billed as “fast and flat” so at least there won’t be hills to contend with. I hear the course is beautiful so there will be a nice view (and good pictures?!). Plus, the first and last mile are on the race track so that will be fun! I am hoping all those things, plus running with Amy, plus the energy from the race environment will all factor in to a good race experience and hopefully a good run.

I’m still going back and forth on what to wear. I have a Wear Blue tank and a Wear Blue long sleeve. I know it will be too warm for the long sleeve, but I’m worried if I wear the tank I will be cold. I really wanted to wear a WB shirt, but I may have to go with a regular running shirt. Lame.

Weather forecast for tomorrow morning. Looks like it is going to be perfect running weather!
Weather forecast for tomorrow morning. Looks like it is going to be perfect running weather!

Wish me luck, y’all! I’ll be back next week to let you know how it went! 🙂

 

Races Revisited: Big D Half Marathon

In the week leading up to race day, I thought it would be fun to revisit some (okay, just two) old race recaps. I am not going to post the original links because they are blogs that are no longer in use or blogs I do not want made public to people who actually know me. Ha. 

First up, the Big D Half Marathon in Dallas, Texas (April 2013). Originally posted on 6/29/13. 

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Finally. 

My first half marathon in 3 years. This has definitely been a long time coming. The past three years have been a roller coaster of highs and lows in both my personal life and my running life. From a running perspective, there has been training, over training, and burnout as I struggled to find a happy medium between life and work. I have alternated between being so enthusiastic I embarked on two-a-days everyday and discouraged to the point where I ran an all time low 30 miles in one month. 

I don’t know what happened this spring, but something clicked. I set the Big D as my tentative goal race and started training. Training went well, I originally planned on blogging all about it, but as my last couple posts say, life happened and I got busy. 

In the days leading up to the race, I wasn’t nervous at all. I was more or less treating this run as “just another long run” because I didn’t have a specific time goal. My loose race plan was to stay around a 10:30 pace for the first three miles and work my way down to a 10:00 minute pace and see how long I could hang on to that. I was expecting a 2:15:00 finish time. Not a PR, but a respectable time for my first race in three years.

Which leads me to race day:

My mother, her boyfriend, and I got to Dallas Fair Park around 7:10. The half marathon started at 8, so I was a little anxious hoping I still had time to get my race packet and bib. Turns out, there was no need to be anxious. I got my bib in plenty of time and still had time to wait in a restroom line. Which, for the record, was practically a mile long.
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At the start!

 

 This is a smaller race so there are no corrals or waves…just a bunch of people taking off at once. I lined up on the far left so my mom could take some pictures about midway back. I was surprisingly anxious on race day. I did a lot of nervous fidgeting while waiting for the race to start. We took off right at 8. I crossed the starting line in a little less than a minute and set into a comfortable stride from the beginning. When I started running, all the nerves went away and I just focused on not going out too fast.

The first couple of miles take you out of Fair Park and through a neighborhood until you get to White Rock Lake. After running around the lake a little bit, the course takes you back through some nice neighborhoods until you are back at Fair Park. It was a good course. 

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See how PRETTY these splits are!?!

For the most part, I think I was pretty damn successful in terms of my race plan. Mile 3 was almost entirely downhill which accounts for the randomly fast mile. Dallas has much more elevation than Houston. MUCH. More. Total elevation gain for this run was 1800ft. Average elevation gain for a typical run in Houston is 30ft. So that was a fun surprise that I did not plan for. Although, even if I had thought to check about elevation beforehand, I’m not sure where in the Houston area I lived in I would have found hill sufficient to train on. 

As a result, the hills got to me a bit, but it was more of a mental battle than a physical one. I wish the huge downhill at mile 3 had been later in the course though. Around mile 7 my body started to hurt. My left Achilles was the first body part to get my attention. It was achy and I imagine that is what tendonitis feels like. Around mile 9, my right hip flexor made sure to let me know it was not happy. I am attributing these to the hills as well. Nothing I couldn’t ignore, but annoying all the same. 

Mile 11 was probably the toughest. I was mentally tired and physically tired. I know my running form probably looked like crap because I was hunching over, or I felt like I was at least. Mile 11 is also when I saw my favorite sign “Don’t walk now…People are watching!” HAHA. I love it. I was definitely considering walking at that point, and seeing that sign convinced me not to. Well played spectators, well played. 

I crossed the finish line at 2:15 (clock time) or 2:14:10 (garmin time) with an official time of 2:14:15. I had enough left in me for a decent kick at the end. There was one guy who FLEW past me in the last tenth. He probably could have run a bit faster throughout the race if he had that much energy left, but whatever. 

I got my medal and found my mom and her boyfriend to pose for the obligatory pictures. My mom said I looked calm and at ease when I was running. Maybe that means I probably could have run faster too? Haha. 

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I spent the rest of the day eating yummy food and relaxing. Both knees hurt and both hip flexors felt like I had been beaten with a bat. So that was fun. I’m sure I looked like an old lady shuffling around and avoiding all movement whatsoever. Despite all that, I want to run more. Weird, I know. 🙂

Races Revisited: Cowtown Half Marathon

In the week leading up to race day, I thought it would be fun to revisit some (okay, just two) old race recaps. I am not going to post the original links because they are blogs that are no longer in use or blogs I do not want made public to people who actually know me. Ha. 

Last up, the Cowtown Half Marathon in Fort Worth, Texas (February 2010). Originally posted in 2/2010.

I went back to my old blog to find this race recap. (This was the blog I had before blogging was cool). And, my RECAP WAS GONE! Yes. GONE. After some digging and asking around, everything written before March of 2010 was erased in the latest platform/server change. 

To be completely honest I’m super bummed and a little heartbroken about it. Since I don’t have the actual recap to share with you, enjoy a photo dump of that day. 

Before the race.
Before the race.

 

Pre-race stretching and such.
Pre-race stretching and such.

 

Awkward photo waiting for things to start.
Awkward photo waiting for things to start.

 

Headed towards the finish line.
Headed towards the finish line.

 

More running towards the finish line.
More running towards the finish line.

 

I'm done! and tired.
I’m done! and tired.

 

I wish I had the recap that went with the pictures. Also, looking at these photos make me feel really good about the way I look now.

Only two more days until race day!

The Worst Run in the History of EVER

What? A bit dramatic? No, I don’t think so at all.

As I mentioned last post, I am training for the Flying Horse Half Marathon. Buuuuut, I’m going to use the term “training” pretty loosely. I’m running three times a week just like my training plan tells me to. Except it seems that a good number of my training runs have been shorter than planned. Oops? Basically, I’ve been relying on my base fitness and general athleticism to get me through. Up until today.

The long run this week is supposed to be 12 miles. Since the 10 miler in the Heat, I’ve run plenty of 8 and 9 milers and maybe one 10 miler. But nothing longer than that. It was really important that I do all 12 miles this time.

Earlier this week, I was asked to run by a new-to-the-area wife. I’m trying to be a joiner and meet more people, so this seemed like a good opportunity. I met up with her and her friend this morning. They were running 10 miles in preparation for a half marathon that is a couple weeks after mine. I figured I would do 10 with them, and tack on the last two on my own. Good plan, right?

My body had other plans.

We set off and through 7 miles everything was fantastic. At 7, the other woman needed to stop and told us to go on without her. That was probably the signal of bad things to come. I think miles 7 and 8 were a steady uphill with no relief. I hate going uphill. I am such a wimp because this hill took so much out of me. Shortly after, I needed a walk break. Then another. Then another. I’m screaming at myself in my head because 8 miles should be no problem for me. It usually isn’t. We got to the top of the hill and I had to bail on my new friend. I told her to go on without me while I ducked into the gas station to use the restroom.

Y’all.

I have never crashed like that before. My stomach was in knots and cramping like crazy. I was nauseous. I was a little dizzy and getting chills. I ended up walking the almost 4 miles back to my car. Every time I tried to run again, I felt sicker and sicker.

I’ve been thinking about this all day trying to figure out what went wrong. I ate really good yesterday. I could have drank more water, but I could always drink more water. I didn’t take my handheld water bottle with me today, but on my last long run I didn’t even use it. I could probably go on forever analyzing what I did wrong and never quite figure it out.

I don’t know what this means for my half marathon. I’ve already registered and have no intention of backing out. Do I just go slow? Do I run by feel? Do I just do whatever Amy is going to do and try to hang on? If I was feeling a little nervous before, I’m feeling a lot nervous now…and maybe slightly panicky. I even thought about trying the 12 miler again on Sunday (what is supposed to be a 7 mile tempo…), but that probably isn’t the smartest idea.

So…someone talk me out of it? Okay, thanks.