Friday, March 25, 2016

Run Houston! Minute Maid Park Race Report

I originally signed up for this race, because I wanted to work on my speed at shorter distances after the Aramco Houston ½ Marathon and I figured this would be a good race to check on my progress.  Unfortunately, my hip bothered me even more after the ½ marathon and I didn’t really get in the quality training I had hoped for.  I did get in about 5 weeks of decent, weekly tempo-runs.  But, I didn’t get to push my pace as much as I would have liked.  Because of this, I went into this 5K knowing that I might be able to beat my virtual 5K time of 29:59 (a 9:39 pace), but not really sure by how much…
The start!
The weather for race day was looking a little iffy throughout the week…this is something I’ve learned to not worry about until race day.  This is Houston…if the forecast looks one way on Monday, it is sure to change drastically by Friday.  At least 10 times.  First, it was going to be a gorgeous morning, then a chance of rain, then a larger chance of rain and then no rain. 

The actual race day weather?

Cloudy, cool and extremely windy.  Not too bad, but with the course going over a bridge with two inclines, the wind could be interesting!  And because it’s an out and back course, you get to do those inclines twice.  The inclines aren’t super steep or anything, but they are just a bit of a long, gradual climb.

I arrived early, so that I could warm up a bit before the race and meet up with my running peep, June.  I found parking quickly, probably because I didn’t go to the recommended parking lot…I’m familiar with the area and parked at the first lot I came to, which I knew would be close to both the start and finish.  I heard that there was quite a traffic jam getting into the recommended lot, so I was glad I parked where I did!  Once I was warmed up, I ran into a couple of friends and we headed to the start where I ran into another running/tri peep and finally, June.  Before we knew it, the anthem was being sung and the race was starting.

Me and June before the race

***My PSA for the day…if you are a new runner (we’ve all been there) and you’re not sure where to stand at the start, stand in the back.  Unless you’re super speedy, it’s best to start there.  I was somewhere in the middle of the pack before the race and had to weave around people who started out running, but slowed to a walk within about 1 minute of starting the race.  I’ve also been a run/walker…if you’re a run/walker, that’s cool…just please move to the right side of the road when it’s time for you to walk.  It’s common courtesy.  If you’re planning to walk the entire course, that’s cool, too.  But, for the love of God, please, please, please start at the very back!***

This course is definitely not one of my favorites.  The Elysian bridge is known for its ups and downs.  It used to be part of the Houston Marathon and ½ Marathon course, as well as the now defunct Race for the Pennant.  Unless you’re a runner who loves hills, you probably hate the Elysian bridge.  I hate it.  But, it’s a challenge and most runners do like a good challenge, right?  Besides, the downhills are fun!

As expected, the wind was brutal on the way out on the highest points of the bridge.  This is where I just dug in, leaned forward and tried to suck it up.  Honestly, while it sucked, the time seemed to go pretty fast.  Before I knew it, we were at the bottom of the 2nd incline and making a u-turn.  Back up the bridge we went…

On the way back, the wind was at our backs.  This was so much better!  I looked at my watch on one of the downhills and I was at a sub-8 minute pace.  For some of you reading this, that’s perfectly normal.  For me, that’s pretty dang fast!  It helped that I was 1) going downhill and 2) the wind was at my back!  My goal had been to finish in 29 minutes or less.  I finished in 28:45, with a 9:14 pace.  
That’s a PR for me, hilly/windy course and all!

The final time

The awesome bling!

The post-race festivities were great!  Since the race also offers a 10K option, those of us completing the 5K found that the post-race party wasn’t crowded at all. There were bagels and peanut butter, fruit, water and sodas.  And, Minute Maid park was open!  Runners were allowed to walk around the concourse area and even walk down into the seating area and take pictures near the dugout.

Minute Maid Park...the field up close!

I feel that Run Houston! Does a great job of coordinating these events.  I am also scheduled to run the remainder of their 5K/10K series, which I am really looking forward to!  And, I will be participating in Finish Strong Racing’s spring running program, so I am hoping for more 5K and 10K PRs!  

Monday, March 07, 2016

Blog Facelift

I’ve decided to give my blog a bit of a facelift.  It’s been a long time since I’ve changed the format and an update is long overdue.  I have also finally created a Facebook, Instagram and Twitter account to go with the blog…yes, I know – welcome to the 21st century! 

My poor blog has been pretty stagnant for a few years now.  I’ve had to really take a look at whether or not I really wanted to dedicate the time to continue blogging…the world has moved on to FB, Twitter and Instagram, lol.  Let’s face it, it’s just easier that way.  What I’ve decided is that I will continue the blog.  My goal is to post twice a week and have the blog as the central point for what’s happening with my training, nutrition, etc.  

Instagram, Facebook and Twitter will be secondary…you might see goofy training pics, silly memes and some weekly inspiration that you might not see here.  What I don’t want to do is rely solely on those social media outlets.  You won’t see a picture from every single workout. (You’re welcome) You won’t see rainbows, unicorns and sunshine every single day.  (Your’re welcome) What you will continue to see is a real, normal, everyday woman trying to juggle career, family and training – the good, bad AND ugly of it all!  (‘Cause lets face it…life can be ugly sometimes!)  A woman who wants to set a good example for her family.  A woman who wants others to know that if she can do this, anyone can.  And a woman who is trying to be fierce.

I hope this blog provides you with some inspiration and a few laughs.


Thursday, February 04, 2016

Run! Houston Virtual 5K Results

So, I missed the Run! Houston 5K at Sam Houston Race Park on new years day.  Fortunately, the race director decided to offer a virtual race for those of us who were slackers on January 1.  I'm using this race as sort of a baseline paces have gotten pretty slow since the foot break and then training for IMTX last year. It's time to work on that!  So here it is - not pretty, but hopefully it will get better with some hard work!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Houston ½ Marathon Race Report

Wow, what an amazing race weekend!

FRIDAY – The Expo

On Friday, I headed to the Expo for packet pick-up (and shopping, of course!).  The Expo is my happy place – I love perusing the booths for upcoming races, cute running gear, new gadgets, etc.  And of course I love it, because I always run into friends from the local running community.

I picked up my packet and found a few choice items.  For example, I scored a new pair of tri shorts and a swimsuit for $9.99 each!  I also replaced my cheapie sunglasses that fell into the porta-potty during IMTX and picked up a cute shirt from BaySix USA.  I also took advantage of Luke’s Locker buy 3 get 1 free socks sale…who couldn’t use a few more pairs of running socks?  I met up with my Ironfriend, Li, and we had a great time shopping!  An exciting part of the expo was meeting up with Jolene, a PR Director from Skechers.  She asked me to try out a pair of Skecher’s GoRun Forza (not during the race, of course).  And she gave me a cute Aramco ½ Marathon tech shirt!  I will be sharing a review of the shoes, so stay tuned for that.

Me and fellow badass Ironman and training partner, Li, at the Expo...we had a great time shopping!

The wall of's a list of everyone running any of the races this weekend!

The m-dot!
My awesome new shirt and shoes, courtesy of Skechers Performance!

SATURDAY – The 5K and The Dinner

I will never get tired of this view!
On Saturday, the Hubs and I woke up early and headed to the ABB 5K.  The 5K is part of the Houston Marathon’s “Houston Double”.  Runners who finish both the ABB 5K and the Houston Marathon or Aramco Half Marathon receive a third medal.  Doing the 5K seemed like a great idea when we registered, but getting up early two mornings in a row didn’t sound so fun when our alarm clock went off on Saturday morning.  But, we managed to get out of bed and head downtown.  And we’re glad we did!  We met up with our fellow Woodlands Fit and Team Beef peeps and had a great time.  The goal here for us was to take this race really easy.  No point in racing the 5K when our main priority was to do well in the Half Marathon the following morning.  We danced at the start (my IMTX finisher’s song, Uptown Funk, was on as we crossed the start), chatted it up with other runners as we waited, then we just enjoyed the sights and sounds of the race.  The thing I enjoyed most was seeing kids running the 5k…and some of them seemed to actually enjoy it.  My kids would more than likely complain the entire time and insist that it was not fun AT ALL.

Team Beef before the ABB 5k

After a day full of family stuff and the weekly grocery shopping, the Hubs and I dumped the kids off with their grandparents and headed out to an event hosted by Skechers and the Houston Marathon Committee.  Glorious grown up time!!! 

Checking out the finish line...

The hubs tolerating me and my picture-taking...

Ready to run!

It was a fun night of great food and mingling with fellow runners, as well as some of the amazing folks who make the Houston Marathon happen every year.  We have a whole new respect for what it takes to organize an event of this size.  Incredible.  We also received cool goody bags that included Nuun, a water bottle, some Elliptigo and Sketchers info, as well as a FREE PAIR OF SKETCHERS PERFORMANCE SHOES! SCORE!

SUNDAY – The Half
Finally, it was race day!  We woke up early and headed downtown.  The great thing about the Houston Marathon is that you have the wonderful shelter of the George R. Brown Convention Center before and after the race.  It was a cold morning, so the warm environment was welcome!
We found some of our running group friends and had time to hang out and mentally prep for the race.  My stomach was feeling a little ick, so I headed off to medical to see if they had any antacids.  On the way, I stopped at the church service that was just starting.  I’m so glad I did, it was exactly what I needed to get my mind right.  And, I just happened to find a Pepto tablet in my race belt…a little souvenir from IMTX.  Score!  I headed to the porta potty 2x before I was finally ready to head out into the frozen tundra cold.

The whole gang...minus me.  I was in the porta can line, doh!

I guess we had stayed in our warm cocoon long enough.  Sigh.  As we walked out the doors of the GRB, we immediately felt the cold breeze and air.  It was cold for this Texas girl!  We walked to our corral and promptly found our place in the pace groups.  It was go-time!  The anthem was sung, the gun was fired and off we went…a slow shuffle toward the start.  I was excited to run into my friend, June, as I shuffled along.  We wished each other good luck and I hit the porta-cans one last time before crossing the start (yes, I had to go AGAIN).  Once again my Ironman Texas finish line song was playing…it was a sign of a great race to come (or something like that).  

Just me and 25,000 of my closest friends!

During the first mile I was in awe of how much room we had to run.  In the past, the route seemed so crowded.  My first 2 -3 miles were always much, much slower than my goal pace, because there was just nowhere to go.  I always stressed out around mile 4 or 5 about how much time I would need to make up thanks to those first few crowded miles.  And, I noticed that I wasn’t weaving around all the people stopping to walk.  Could people have actually placed themselves in the right pace groups? Wow, it was really awesome.  Before I even hit the 1 mile marker, I had shed the sweatshirt I was wearing.  Around mile 2, I had shed my gloves and arm warmers.  I’d regret that later.

By mile 4, I was sweating and wishing I had worn shorts instead of my capris.  Fortunately, the miles ticked by pretty quickly.  Honesty, I had no expectations for this race.  It seems like since breaking my foot and then training for IMTX using HR training, my paces have really suffered.  Most of my long runs were in the 10:40 – 11 minute pace range during my training, and I didn’t feel like I could go much faster if I tried.  Some of my shorter runs had been faster, but rarely faster than a 10 minute pace! (Sad) But during the race, my splits were actually looking pretty decent.  I wasn’t sure if I would be able to hold the pace the entire 13.1 miles, but decided that I’d try.   By mile 6, my average pace was 10:22 and getting better.  Unfortunately, I lost time by mixing a bottle of Tailwind and making a porta-potty stop (stupid bladder!).  My average pace dropped to 10:31.  It took me awhile to get back into a good zone again, but I eventually started running around a 9:50 – 10 minute pace again.  I tried to take in the sights, read some of the signs, high five a kid or two.

My favorite sign?

The one at mile 5 that said, “LeBron would be cramping by now!”. I also really liked the ”If you walk,  Donald Trump will be President.”  I wore my Team Beef shirt for the race and really appreciated the Team Beef love that was on the course.  I’m new to this Team Beef stuff, so that was a pleasant surprise!

At some point, we made our way through a beautiful area with a lot of shade from the trees overhead.  That’s when I really wished that I had my gloves!  My hands were freezing!  But, I felt happy to be wearing my capris afterall.  I was happy to be back on Montrose again.  I was even happier when we approached Shepherd…I knew we were getting close to Allen Parkway (a/k/a the home stretch).  I ran into one of my fellow Team Beef / Woodlands Fit friends, Mark.  We chatted for a few minutes and then went back to our own races.  On Allen Parkway, I usually look for my friends from my days in Houston Fit, but this time I just really wanted to be done.  I didn’t really look at any of the tents along the way and just focused on getting  downtown.

Finally!  I was in Downtown and could see the GRB in the distance.  The street was getting a bit more crowded, which made it difficult to maintain my pace.  This is definitely one of the most exciting parts of the race – as you get closer to the finish, you can start to hear the announcer and the crowds get thicker and thicker.  There’s a steady roar of cheers as you round that final curve – I love that part.  It’s exhilarating!  And then it was done.  I crossed the finish line – 1:15:23.  Not my best, but far from my worst.

Once I made it into the GRB, I checked my phone and saw a text from the hubby.  He met his goal of a sub-2 hour race with an awesome 1:55:57!  I’m so proud of him!

We claimed our finishers shirts and headed to the breakfast area.  On the way, volunteers were handing out ice cream sandwiches.


Okay, so I almost never indulge, but what the hell...I grabbed one.  Yes, I had that in addition to my eggs and sausage.  This might be why my jeans don't like me right now.  I digress...

Afterwards, we met up with some others from Team Beef and Woodlands Fit and headed outside for more post-race festivities.  It was a perfect end to the morning!

On the lawn of Discovery Green

The Hubs requests better beer next year...

The final results...not great, not terrible

Friday, January 15, 2016

Random Facts Friday

I'm baaaaaaack.  Finally.

1)  I am alive and well.  Yes, I know…I’ve been quite absent from this blog for awhile now.  I do plan to resuscitate it this year and post at least once a week.

Earlier this week at the Madonna Concert...see, alive and well!

2)  Work.  A lot has happened since my last post.  As you know, I was laid off the week before Ironman Texas.  Well, I got a job!  The position is part-time, but the hours are wonderful, the company is awesome and I actually have time to see my kids and be a part of their activities.  The part-time budget has taken some getting used to, but after being unemployed you sort of get used to adjusting your budget. Dramatically.  It may mean fewer race entries, less frequent vacations and not so many Starbucks runs, but I am finding that it’s totally worth it!

3)  The Kiddo. So this past year, my Kiddo completed her first season of gymnastics competitions.  Unfortunately, about a month before her next competition, she managed to break her collarbone.  It happened at gymnastics, but she wasn’t actually doing gymnastics (go figure).  She was playing a game, running, tripped over her feet and fell.  To make matters worse, this happened on Christmas Eve!  So, no orthopedic offices were open and it kind of made for a crappy Christmas.  On the other hand, having the distraction of Christmas, presents and family may have helps!
The Kiddo on Christmas Eve with her sling...sad face.

4)  The Munchkin.  My Munchkin is playing Soccer.  While the Kiddo has discovered her love of gymnastics, the Munchkin is still figuring out which sport he really likes the most.  Right now, we’re giving soccer a try.  The fall soccer season was kind of a washout, literally.  It rained almost every single Saturday, so we maybe had 4 practices and a bunch of make-up games.   He wants to play again, so hopefully the winter season will a little drier!

5)  Memphis.  Last November, I found out that I was going to Memphis for a work training. The Hubs and I decided to take advantage of the opportunity and went to Memphis for the weekend before the training started.  We went to Graceland, Sun Studios, The National Civil Rights Museum and thoroughly enjoyed the visit!  We even managed to get in a run on the Shelby Farms Greenline! 

Thank you, thankyouverymuch....loving Graceland and these Elvis sunglasses!

6) Disney.  Before the job fiasco in May, we had been planning a trip to Disney World.  We had paid for a majority of the park tickets, dining plan, etc., so we decided to keep our plans and go.  We had an amazing time! Disney at Christmas time is even more magical. And we loved visiting the new Star Wars attractions and Disney Hollywood Studios!  We also visited Universal Studios.  We had a great time there, too.  And the kid's loved the Harry Potter attractions there...the Kiddo was even picked for a special wand selection, which totally made her day!  We also discovered that the Munchkin is a dare devil (like his Mom) and wanted to ride every single roller coaster!

Enjoying that Disney Magic!

The family at Universal!

7) Christmas.  We survived the holidays, even with the collarbone break.  My family takes turns hosting, so this year it was my turn.  We had 32 family members join us for our Christmas celebration.  It was a blast!

The food, OMG the much and so delicious! 

Just one of the Ironman-themed gifts from the Hubs.

8) New Year.  We had a really low-key New Year's Eve celebration at home.  Pajamas, movies, board games and wine.  It was nice to just hang out, especially after all the excitement and work of prepping for the Christmas Day gathering.

Pajamas + a warm fire + fuzzy socks = a perfect NYE!

9) New Year of Running – Aramco Houston 1/2 Marathon.  I am still running.  I've been plagued with issues on my right side - tight quads and hip flexors and hip pain (again). This has really taken it's toll on my training.  I haven't managed to get in as much mileage or intensity as I would have liked in training for the 1/2 marathon. It's a bit depressing.  But, I can run and that makes me happy....even if this might be my slowest Houston 1/2 in 5 or 6 years. I love the Houston race, so being able to do it all is fine by me.  On a happier note, the Hubs has been getting faster and faster!  He's working toward a big PR at the 1/2! 

10) New Year - Triathlon. I do intend to train for some triathlons this year!  However, I am planning to stick with the shorter distances.  Lots of sprints!  I know, it seems a little pansy-ish after finishing an Ironman distance!  But, I want to spend time with my family again.  And, I need to get this hip issue figured out!

The first Tri I've signed up for in 2016

So that's kind of gets you caught up in what's going on in my world.  Be on the lookout for more posts this year!  

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Life after Ironman

I guess I could also title this post, "What I did on my summer vacation." 

Life after Ironman has been interesting.  Many people say they go into kind of a post-ironman depression.  After months of training and the anticipation of the big day, there tends to be sort of a letdown, or a “now what? “ feeling.  Naturally, there is a void!  I mean, you’re no longer spending 2 – 3 hours per day training during the week, no 6-hour Saturday bike rides or 3-hour Sunday runs, and you’re not seeing your tri-training peeps all week long…what do you do with all that extra time now that the race is over?

I definitely think I had a bit of that, but to be honest, I didn’t have time to dwell on it very much.  You see, I was laid off from my job the week before Ironman Texas.  The downside? You’re about to go into the biggest physical challenge of your life and you’re told you’re no longer needed.  Sure, it can take a toll on your confidence.  If you let it.  I decided to focus on the upside.

I know what you’re thinking - the upside? 

I now had time to prep for and focus on the race. I packed my special needs and transition bags (this was more time consuming than I expected!), I went to  my local bike shop and running store for last minute gear (more than once), I attended a couple of pre-race events, I checked in my bike, etc.  Of course, having too much time to think about what lies ahead can be bad, too.  So, I tried to balance things out – I had coffee with friends, I visited a friend and her new baby, I had lunch with my kiddos at their school and attended some school functions.

Enjoying the kid's honor roll celebration

Time to present projects....

Once the race was done, I stayed busy attending the kid’s end of school year events (there were quite a few), including the Kiddo’s 4th grade graduation.  I also tried to meet up with friends who had been neglected during IMTX training. 

Walking the stage at 4th grade graduation...on to Intermediate School!!!

Two weeks later, the kids were out of school and summer had begun!  To be honest, being laid off was a bit of a blessing in disguise, because I had the most amazing summer.  The only summer where I’ve been able to stay home with the kids.  We planned some fun activities (with some job searching squeezed in) and never looked back.

We spent a lot of time at the neighborhood pool….

We took advantage of all the summer programs at the library…

We found cool events at our local nature center…

We checked out our first Houston Dynamo game…

We went to the beach…

We went for walks…

And bike rides...

We checked out a few movies (including the $1 Summer Movie Club..hey, it’s cheap)…

We even took our goofy dog on walks…

We made a bird feeder and mug cupcakes…

We built a living room fort during a (weak) tropical storm…

We played in the rain...

We played board games...

We had lots of snow cones…

And some ice cream, too…

And (I saved one of the best for last), we went to the Texans Training Camp (thanks to my friend, Vic, for the tickets!)...

Riley getting an autograph from Alfred Blue!

Me and the Munchkin enjoying the sights and sounds of training camp

And yes, we did see J.J. Watt up close...

Overall, it was the best summer ever!  My kids are growing up way too fast, so spending this time with them (when they actually still want to hang out with me) was a gift! 

So that’s what I’ve been up to.  I have been running, but it has been difficult to get in bike rides and swims with the kids at home.  And that’s okay.  At first, I was determined to keep training for a couple of races in August and September…I was trying to get in a swim with the kids at the pool and bike after the Hubs made it home from work.  Then I decided that I didn’t really HAVE to train for anything right now. I had the opportunity to just enjoy the summer WITH the kids. 

So, that’s what I did.

Sure, I ran early in the morning, before the Hubs left for work and did a little biking on the weekend…but that’s it.  I figured I’d have more time for biking and swimming when the kids started school, along with more time to focus on my job search.  I’m so glad that I did this, because the races will always be there!  My kids, on the other hand, will continue to grow up and will be off to college before I know it.  Carpe diem, dammit!  No regrets here!