Thursday, March 18, 2010

Dallas Rock And Roll Half Marathon - AWESOMENESS!

We were excited to be able to compete in the Dallas Rock And Roll (RNR) 1/2 Marathon on March 14th. It was vindication for being denied the opportunity to compete in San Antonio 2 years ago due to Rick's job. We had entered there and a couple of weeks before the race - after training hard for months - the move Rick's company was planning was moved to THAT weekend. This more than made up for it!

We were really ready, I think. I just felt all week leading up to the race that it was going to be a good one...despite the following facts:

1. We ran the Cowtown on 2-27 and my time was the worst I'd ever run...I believe due to the fact that I ran a PR on the treadmill for a 5K the week before and my legs were fried - but that's just me. I also think Rick's surgery had a little to do with it...he was only 10 days into recovery!

2. We ran the Allen Eagle run on 3-6 and both posted decent times - no PR for me, but I wasn't expecting one that race.

3. We worked out on Monday, then couldn't work out on Tuesday because we were so sore from working out on Monday! THAT hasn't happened in quite a while!

4. I had to work late both Wednesday and Thursday evenings for school activities - which meant NO workouts of any kind for me...again, hasn't happened in a while.

5. We took Friday off (planned) to rest our legs for the race - although I hadn't run since the Saturday before!

I still I felt this would be a good race...I just FELT good!

We got up Saturday morning and picked up Cotton to go to the EXPO. You are required to go there to pick up your bib, t-shirt, and goodie bag - no race day pick-ups...soooooo off we went. It was a really good EXPO. Well laid out and well organized. We found our "corral" and picked up our bibs quickly. Cotton was in Corral #1, we were in Corral #8. You are placed there according to your estimated finish time. I was just hoping that the 2:20 time I had put for Rick and I wasn't overly ambitious after my 2:32 time just 2 weeks before! Oh well, time would tell, right?

After getting our bibs we were directed over to the t-shirt table where we picked up our race shirts. They were REALLY nice! Black dry weave technical shirts...NIIIICE. Then off to another table to pick up the "goodie bags". These were also the official "gear bags" that would be used on race day to check in our gear. Once we got these we were at the entrance to the EXPO area, so we walked on in.

The EXPO was a lot of fun. We picked up some cool luggage tags right away. They have the Dallas RNR logo and we felt like there wouldn't be so many of those floating around when we had luggage to go anywhere - at least we hoped not! We saw some amazing new racing gear, training gear, etc. We walked from booth to booth, enjoying the comaradare. I picked up some samples of olive oil and basalmic vinegar at one booth, and some of a new sports drink called CYTOMAX at another. This was the drink that they would be giving out during the race. Cotton found some recovery tights he had been looking for, and they actually had his size there, so he got them as well. We found the GU booth and I bought a box of my favorite - chocolate. Since I bought an entire box, they threw in 2 free packs and a pair of cold weather GU gloves! As we were walking from booth to booth we turned a corner and I saw --- MY SHIRT! During the Cowtown race I had seen a couple of people wearing a shirt that said "TEAM 413" on the front and a copy of Philippians 4:13 on the back. That is my personal Bible verse...I've had it with me at work for years, I tied a keychain with the verse to the laces of my shoes to help me through my first marathon, and Cotton and Angel gave me a plaque with the saying for Christmas last year. It 'fits' me and I refer to it daily. Here they were - selling the shirts at the EXPO. I picked a white shirt with purple lettering for me, and Rick got a blue sleeveless with yellow lettering for himself. Now I was SURE it was going to be a great race! After looking at all the booths - and picking up more free stuff - we were ready to head home.

Race morning was beautiful. A little cool, but no clouds and not much wind at all. We picked up Cotton about 5:45 and we were off. Travel went quickly until the turnoff to get to Fair Park...the finish line of the race - and the place to park and catch the buses to the start line. Traffic was backed up like you wouldn't believe. It took us over 20 minutes to get to the parking area! This was honestly the only snag in the entire weekend. I hope they look into fixing this before next year's race - some kind of traffic direction or even Dart buses or Trains for transportation would be better.

We got to the start area and walked around a bit trying to find the gear drop off. We passed tables that had bananas, water, and bagels - so we picked up a quick and healthy breakfast. Just enough to stave off hunger and give us a few carbs to get us going. We found the corrals we would be starting from and headed back to "race village". On the way back we saw some buses with numbers in the windows. Sure enough, these were the gear drop off zones. There was an entire line of buses! They were set up so you dropped your gear off at the bus that had the sign for the first letter of your last name. We found ours - but decided to wait a bit before we dropped off our nice, warm, wind suits! We found a sheltered area and sat to wait. At about 7:30 we went ahead and packed up the gear, dropped it off at the buses, and headed back to the start line again. Now all we could do was wait for the start!

The corrals were totally organized. There were folks at the gates explaining that the first number on your bib was also your corrall number and helping people find the right place. For the most part people totally cooperated. This lead to one of the best starts of a race I've seen! They got started on time, corrals were released about every 2 minutes and there was plenty of music and encouragement to entertain while you waited for your corral to be released. They even had the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders on stage right at the start line. Finally it was our turn and we took off!

The course was a good one. To me it felt like I spent most of the first half of the race running up hill - although I know there were some flat areas in there too! I stayed up with Rick for the first 3 miles really well despite the fact that at mile 2 we had the greatest increase in elevation of the entire race! Then we hit the first part of the longest elevation change. It was a pretty sharp increase and I struggled a bit. He waited for me there, but immidiately began pulling away again. I ran like the wind and caught him on the flat to let him know I was OK....then he went ahead again. I saw him at the 5 mile water stop, and that was the last time. I love running with him whenever we can - but I'm always so proud when he takes off and runs "his" race. I don't worry about him looking for me and turning an ankle or getting hurt that way - and I know he can run his best time. I'm slowly able to keep up with him for more and more of the race time, but it is harder with my short little legs to keep up with his long ones! Anyway - he was off doing his race, and I was left to run mine. I was determined to do it right!

I chugged along feeling like this race was nothing but one big uphill. Well - for 4 miles it is! Rick left to run his race after the first mile of the longest elevation increase - little did I know I still had 3 miles of an uphill battle to go. At the end of this section there was a small crowd of people shouting encouragement. A man yelled out that we were almost at the top of the hill and it would be downhill from there - I yelled back it better be because it had been all uphill to that point...everyone around laughed and I knew I wasn't alone feeling the struggle!

He was right, once we made the crest of that hill we did start a long elevation decrease - another 3 miles. I think that is what helped my time stay pretty consistent here. At mile 12 there was a very small increase again, and my time slowed to 11:00 minute miles and even though mile 13 was a decrease I hit the wall here and it was all I could do to convince myself that I could keep running. I was pushing as hard as I could, but I just couldn't get it going again. When we went through the gates of Fair park I was so excited...I knew the finish line was close. Then all of sudden the UT band struck up and the crowds thickened. I followed the course and saw ahead of me the yellow fences leading to the finish line - I was close. Someone from the crowd shouted, just around the corner! I picked it up a little....turned the corner...and there was another corner! NOOOOOOOO....oh well - push it, push it, push it....turned that corner and there it was...ANOTHER CORNER! ARRRGGGG! I wasn't going to stop now! I pushed it a little harder and FINALLY there was the finish line. I crossed it and hit my Garmin. I did a double take, my time: 2:20:36 (official time was 2:20:42)! NEW PR! I had met the goal time I set for this race so long ago! As I moved through the group I saw Rick at the back of the runner's area waiting for me. He was so surprised to see me! We walked slowly toward the family meeting area and saw Cotton waiting at the fence for us. We met up to walk to the gear bus together. Cotton told us he had turned his knee at mile 10 and had to run/walk the last 3 miles, but still finished in 1:42:43! Rick had a PR by over 7 minutes of 2:10:36. All in all a great race for all of us!

As we walked to the car after picking up our gear we all agreed that this was one of the best organized races any of us had ever run in, and that we all wanted to run it again next year! The bands were nice, but you really only got to hear snippets as you went by - I feel they were more fot the spectators along the route than for the runners. I really enjoyed the cheer squads, and even more the folks just lined up along the route cheering for everyone.

Several times during the race people yelled out "Go TEAM 413", and others as they saw me (either me passing them or them passing me) would comment that they liked the shirt. It was always at a time when I needed encouragement - and helped me "stay strong". I can't wait to wear it to my next race!!!

Boring race stats follow!








-61 Ft




+194 Ft




-113 Ft




-1 Ft




+45 Ft




+25 Ft




+37 Ft




+30 Ft




-22 Ft




-54 Ft




-22 Ft




+5 Ft




-32 Ft




-4 Ft

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Cowtown +1

Last weekend we ran the Cowtown 1/2 marathon. It was pretty good. I felt a little fuzzy when we got there - that is what 4 hours of sleep will do to ya! I was really tired Friday night when I went to bed, but it was after midnight before I could actually get to sleep - hate it when that happens! Then we were up at 4:00 am to drive to Ft. Worth for the race. We stopped and picked up Cotton in Plano on our way so he could ride over. He wasn't running - he had just gotten off work and wanted to watch the race!

We got to the parking area and rode the bus to the start of the race. Went over to package pick-up and all they had there were our bibs...hmmmmmm. Walked into the Expo tent (very crowded) and there - at the very back - was a sign that said "T-shirts". We wove our way through the packed aisles and got to the t-shirt table only to find that they were totally out of Medium shirts, and had been since the day before. me crazy, but if you have people pay good money to sign up for a race months in advance, don't you think you would be able to pack up a bib and t-shirt so they would have what they ordered MONTHS IN ADVANCE! In my humble opinion - it should be the ones that sign up at the EXPO that should be stuck with the shirt in the wrong size.....well, I'll get off my soap box now and on to the race report.

We walked out of the expo tent and found a nice bench where we could stop and put on our bibs and D-tags (the tag they use for the chip timing). It was pretty dark right there (remember this is about 6:00 am!) but we muddled through and got it all set. We then made our way over to the start area. On our way over we happened to think that we hadn't looked at the bib to see what starting corral we were supposed to be in, so I glanced over at Rick's bib to see. To my utter shock he had on MY bib! Which of course meant he also had on my timing chip (D-tag), and I had on his! Well - maybe I would PR this race - HAHAHAHAHA! We decided since we were going to try to stay pretty much together for this one that we would just leave well enough alone and go with the flow.

We made our way to the starting corral and waited patiently for the start. They started the groups off in waves, which was nice, not so many people to dodge in front of us, but we were in one of the slower corrals and got off to a really slow start....not too much of a problem for me!

I was hoping that I would finally break 2:25 for this race - that was my time last year when I was running so well and my back started spasming at mile 11. I had to walk quite a bit of the last 2 miles. This year it wasn't as cold and not nearly as windy so I had high hopes...even though my legs were still really sore from my PR treadmill 5K earlier in the week. I figured they would loosen up as I made my way through the race.

The first two miles passed pretty uneventfully in 10:36 and 10:55. The second was a little slower than I wanted. I wanted to keep the pace between 10:30 and 10:45 as much as possible. Somewhere toward the end of mile 3 I started really feeling my thighs get super tight. Got through that one in a time of 10:44 for a 32:16 time. Pretty much my average during a half.

Off to get to the 10K mark. My legs were really getting worse as I continued to run, and my pace was showing it. Bless his heart, Rick was doing his best to stay with me - even when that meant running ahead and slowing down to wait on me to catch up! (He told me later that he really did this because he didn't want me to beat him in the race - remember, I was getting credit for his time since he was wearing my bib and chip! Too funny!) We finished the next 3 miles in 11:11, 11:18, and 11:03 - for a 6 mile time of 1:05:50. Again, pretty close to average for me. Slow for a 10K, but not for 1/2 way through a half marathon.

We continued on our way, Rick running ahead and looking back, me chugging along the best I could with my muscles feeling like they were tied in pretty bows! The next 3 miles had some pretty good hills in them and my time showed it. 11:45, 11:56, and 11:12. BUT, I was still chugging along - only walking the water stops, nowhere else!

I think here we hit a bit of the flat course, with the nice brickwork - you know the part where you worry that you are going to twist your foot or break an ankle....but it was smooth going for us. I think this was where I felt really good the year before and honestly thought I was going to break 2:20 - again this year I was feeling good, my thighs had finally untied themselves and I was running pretty smoothly again, if not setting the world on fire....I was at least moving better! At least for the first couple miles.... 11:03 and 11:06. Then we came to the hill that took me out the year before.

I don't know if it was me remembering last year, or honest fatigue, but this was a really slow part of the race for me - a mental challenge I think I lost. Mile 12 took me 12:14 to run. My slowest mile in the race. Now it does have a bridge that has a decent grade to it, but nowhere near the grade of Hawkeye's Hill, one of the hills earlier in the race. I think I was just taking it too easy without realizing it....but hindsight is always 20/20, right?

Once we got over that part and Rick knew I was going to be OK he went ahead and took off. I was so proud of him! I kept chuggin' along and finished mile 13 in 11:50 despite another small hill, then did the last .21 in 2:14 for an overall time of 2:29:13. (My official time was 2:32:13...Garmin paused at the potty break we took, lol). Rick's official finish time was 2:29:43. He said that he felt really strong at the end. I think staying with me, at least at the start helps him a little pace himself...and me trying to keep up helps me too! Anyway...despite this being one of my slowest half marathon times, I was really excited because I didn't have to walk this year. Only through the water stops, which is our plan anyway. I'll take that time as something to improve on in the Dallas Rock and Roll March 14!

Now, on to the +1 portion of the post.

Today we ran the Allen ISD Eagle Run. This run is one I really enjoy. I worry about it being squeezed between 2 half marathons - so my goal this year was to beat last year's time of 32:23, and to not walk other than the water stops.

We got there early and got our bibs and D-tags...we went back to the car to put them on and put the bag with our shirts in it away. After we double checked to make sure we got the right bibs on this time (hahaha) we went back to watch the 1 mile Fun Run. One of my students was running in it and I wanted to cheer him on. We also saw Kendran and Lisa, our friends from Weight Watchers, so we stood with them. I cheered for Sean as he went by and chatted with my friends until the race started.

After the Fun Run finished up we made our way to the start line of the 5K - I found my students that participate in "Girls on the Run", gave them a hug and told them I was proud of them and to have a good race. The gun went off and we were on the run!

I knew that if I could stay pretty close to 9:30 per mile at the beginning, I might be able to break that crazy 30 minute mark...I've already been close in one race this year! BUT I also knew that my legs wouldn't be totally recovered from the Cowtown last week, so I was going to be happy if I could just run the whole thing. I told Rick to run his race and not worry about me on this one!

My first mile felt pretty good - other than the fact that I just couldn't catch my breath like I normally can after the first .25 miles...I struggled with this a lot longer this time. Mile one went by in 9:19...a good time for me! I made it to the first water stop and walked my way through - took back off, but as I watched Garmin I was surprised to find myself going much slower than I felt like I was running. I noticed that I wasn't really stretching out as I ran, so I tried really hard to focus on my stride - it helped a little I think, but mile 2 still took me 10:16 to complete.
Mile 3 of this race is really hard because the last .5 miles of it is uphill! As I came up to the water stop I looked up to the bridge ahead, and sure enough, there was Rick - just like last year - but this year he wasn't walking! I knew I could do as well...I got my water, walked through, and took off again. I kept passing places where last year I walked, and I kept telling myself how good I was doing because I wasn't walking this year! We were still going into a headwind by now, but I don't think it was nearly as strong as the year before! I finished up mile 3 in 10:30 and knew I only had .1 mile to go....I was on the straight-a-way toward the finish line and I hadn't walked! This was a good race, even if I was already at 30:06 for the race.....I kept heading for the finish....crossed the line in 31:40. I had done it...I beat last year's time and I didn't walk!

Rick was there cheering for me as I crossed. I walked over to him and congratulated him on a good race. I was so proud when he told me he had finished in about 28:14. We got some water and bananas and I walked over to check out the official results. His official time was 28:07!!! As I looked at the overall results (they didn't post age groups) It appeared that we had both placed. We decided to stay for the awards and sure enough I took 3rd and he took 2nd! We brought home 2 trophies from this one!!! Not only that, one of the 2nd grade teachers from my school took 3rd in his age group and his brother took 1st overall, and one of my girls took 3rd in her age group! It was a good day for Boyd Elementary runners!!!

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This is about my life. My life as a wife. My life as a mother. My life as a Memaw. My life as a teacher. My life as a runner. My life such as it is.