Spring is the best time for me to start running again. It is my favorite time of the year to be out on the trails here in Central Texas. The trails are full of wildflowers. Fields of bluebonnets are stunning to the eyes and fill the morning air with a lovely fragrance. Once they go to seed other beautiful flowers take their place, they are all precious to me and make me want to spend as much time as I can out admiring them. This year, more than any other, they have given me great joy. I wanted to share some of the pictures of the wildflowers that we have taken over the years, I hope they brighten your day as they have brightened mine.
During my forced and then voluntary sabbatical from running I still needed to get my nature fix. So I did a lot of walking/hiking on trails. First our local trail that I can walk to from our neighborhood and then I branched out and started exploring other trails with in reasonable driving distance.
While on these walks as a way to entertain ourselves Andrew and I started birding. And when I say birding I mean looking for different kinds of birds and taking pictures of them. We are not ornithologists by any means and can’t identify most of the birds we see until we look them up but it has been interesting and has added some fun to these explorations.
Some of the parks that we visited are Hornsby Bend, McKinney falls state park, Inks Lake state park, Enchanted Rock, Colorado Bend State Park, Dinosaur Valley State park, and Brazos Bend state park. We bought a Texas State park pass and that has really saved us some money.
I think our favorite park was Brazos Bend. It had a lot of birds to see and take pictures of and it also has alligators. This park was a little further away but definitely worth the drive.
Even after getting back to running we will continue to go on our day hiking/birding trips. We may even try a longer hike where we have to camp out..we’ll see. I love nature but like sleeping in a bed. :0)
Here are some of the birds from our trips.
One of the highlights of 2013 was the day I rescued my new little best friend Scruffy. But I am getting ahead of myself. It all started on a hot Texas morning in May. I woke up and went for a run and finished with some hill repeats. As I was cresting the hill of my fifth repeat I saw a little animal, at first I thought it was just a cat (we have a lot of stray cats around here) so I didn’t pay much attention to it. But, as I got closer I saw it was stumbling about and falling, so I went to scope out the situation. I watched him for a couple of minutes he would take a couple of steps and then fall and then get back up and repeat the process. He was hurt but obviously trying to keep moving. I looked around for an owner but didn’t see anyone, looked for a collar, nothing. I ran home to get my husband so we could pick him up and take him to the local vet and see if he had a microchip, so that we could get him to his owner.
I did not write up any reports for my 2013 races because there wasn’t much to write about. The Surf City Half marathon was the only race I did on my own and I did not PR but didn’t care because the race was just an excuse to go on a mini vacation. It was a nice race though and would recommend it to anyone who wanted to do a half in February and take a trip out to LA.
We did some 5Ks in the Spring. I did not race these for time, instead just paced the kids. They both had good races and PRed big time. Hannah won two ag awards, one of them being the much coveted bunny trophy and the other one a Chuy’s fish.
I had planned on running a marathon on my birthday but The Fall prevented that and really any real running for the rest of the year. Not sure what 2014 will bring.. at this point it looks like maybe 0 races, that would be OK with me, I just want to get back to running.
Dramatic title I know. But I did literally fall back in August and it really did shut my running down for months. I was deep into a bad marathon training cycle. I was training for this race that was downhill and on my birthday. I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to BQ .
AS I mentioned training was not going well. Sluggishness that started after the Dallas Marathon continued to bother me. In addition, I was experiencing dizziness, tinnitus and my ears felt blocked after most of my runs. I just figured these symptoms were cause by running in the heat and dehydration.
Well during a short weekday run I suddenly tripped and fell on my face. I was going slightly downhill so the fall was pretty nasty. I heard a crack in my nose and had blood all over my person. Luckily I was only a couple of blocks from home and Andrew hadn’t left for work yet so he was able to take me to urgent care to get looked at.
Long story short.. I broke my nose, had to have it reset a couple of weeks later at a surgery center because it wasn’t a straight forward fracture and it would have been to painful for me to be awake while the Doctor fixed it. While at the ENT I also had some other tests done and found out the blocked hearing, vertigo, and tinnitus were symptoms of Meniere’s disease. And that I would be plagued with these things off and on for the rest of my life. The Doctor put me on some diuretics to lessen the symptoms but they only made things worse and made my legs cramp up when running. This cramping up led to a torn hamstring which shut my running down even longer. When this finally healed up I was so depressed because of the way my body was acting and some other personal issues, I just didn’t even really have the desire to start running again even though I knew it would be the best thing for me to do.
Oddly enough my symptoms have all cleared up now that I am not taking anything or running a whole lot. I don’t know what that means. It does not mean that I will not be running anymore, but I am curious to see if the symptoms come back when I do start running regularly again. I honestly think it is a combination of the heat, running and stress that bring on the symptoms. I guess we will see once the summer heat hits again and my running mileage increases.
The trail of the lights is back this year in Austin and there is no better way to enjoy them than running through them the night they officially open at the trail of lights 5K. This run is not chip timed and it is the one race I am okay with walking and stopping to take pictures at. We enjoyed the race, the treats afterwards and of course spinning under the Zilker tree! Read More
When I began training for marathon number four, the one thing I was sure of was that it was not going to be in Texas. Of course, life almost never goes according to plan and I ended up on the starting line of the Dallas marathon on December 9th instead of CIM on December 2nd.
Without the fast course that CIM promised, with the extra week of taper (which left me feeling a little stale) and warm/humid conditions predicted for race day I knew I would have to reevaluate my race goals but I didn’t know how much adjustment I would have to make and couldn’t really know until race day. So I decided not to fret to much before hand.
We drove up to Dallas early on Saturday. We stayed at the Omni which was perfect for packet pickup because it is located right next to the convention center. It is also close to the start finish areas, so I would recommend it to anyone looking for good place to stay for the race. Packet pickup was easy, the only thing I would/could quibble about was having to walk the full length of the expo to pick up the shirt (honestly I would probably would have walked around anyway but it would have been annoying if I was in a hurry and just wanted to pick my stuff up and leave). We ate a quick lunch at the hotel restaurant and then I chilled in the hotel room while Hubby and the kids walked around Dallas a bit.
We decided to take a drive to Highland Park to look at the Christmas Lights (which were awesome) and while there we found a cute little Italian restaurant, Amore, which was the perfect for carbo loading. I really made an effort to eat a little more this time around because I did not want to end up feeling depleted like I did during the Missoula Marathon.
The alarms went off and of course the first thing I did was look at the weather. Here is what it looked like about an hour before race time and the weather pretty much stayed this way the whole race, the only thing that changed was that the wind picked up for the second half of the race (more on that later).
As I mentioned earlier the Omni was in a great spot for the race and getting to the starting area was super easy, just a short walk. The corral system they had set up was a mess. I was in corral B and had to enter through the back of it. The pace signs in this area were 11 min/mile…much slower than my goal pace obviously. So I had to push my way to the front of the corral, once I got there, the pace signs said 9:30/ per mile. I was still much further back than I should have been and knew it was going to be a pain to get past all these people if I couldn’t get further up. A bunch of us were in the same conundrum and we considered jumping the gate, but then they opened the gate up and allowed us to move forward. So I again pushed my way forward and finally made it close to the 3:35 pacer. Because of the weather I was not planning on running with him but I figured being between him and the 3:45 would be a good place for me to pace. The start of the race was pretty cool and very Texan, with Cowboys on horses and Texas shaped confetti raining down on us.
I did not want to wimp out and make excuses for myself but I also did not want to be stupid. I have had great fast long runs in cool weather with low humidity this cycle, I have also had long runs in warmer/humid weather where I started fast and was practically crying and walking at the end of because I did not adjust the pace. So the plan was to stay relaxed and just run the first half at a pace that was comfortable and then push the second half and finish as strong as I could.
The first mile was really crowded, I felt like I was barely moving. If I had actually been trying for a 3:35 I would have been pissed but because I was trying to stay relaxed I was thankful that the crowd slowed me a bit. I kept the 3:35’s big orange hat in my sights but didn’t try to catch him. I was already sweating pretty badly by mile 2, which is never a good sign, but staying at the pace I was going felt easy so I just continued to tail the pacer for the first 5 miles. As we were crossing the bridge during mile 4, I passed my nemesis and finally crossed the finish line before him (pretty sad goal I know, but he beat me at 3M twice and crossed the finish line right before me in San Antonio)
Right after mile 5 we hit a hill and I took it really easy on the way up, right afterwards we went right back down and I caught up with the pacer but he started to speed up so I backed off and decided to just let him go and keep my effort in check, especially since I knew we had almost 4 miles of slow steady climbing to do. I did not attack the hills but I also did not slow down too much.
Once the climbing stopped we had some downhill and flat miles. I managed to pick the pace back up a bit. At this point I was feeling really good about the race and thought that maybe I could pull off a 3:40 or at least PR.
While we were going around White Rock Lake I we turned in to the wind and it kept getting stronger as the run went on and I started to slow down.
Then we hit the “Dolly Parton Hills” …The Dollies were hilarious and made me chuckle even though I was moving pretty slowly up those hills.
My pace recovered a little in the next 2 downhill miles but after that I slowed back down. 3:40 slipped away and then a PR slipped away, I pushed as hard as I could but I just couldn’t get my legs to go any faster. They did not hurt like they did in Missoula they just would not go fast. I did manage to pick it up just a little bit for the last .47, seeing my family at mile 26 was a great boost. They are the best!!
3:45 (7:58 pace for the last .47)
Even though my time was slower than my last marathon, I was happy with the result, finishing a marathon is always a great accomplishment. The weather conditions were much tougher, the course was much hillier and I felt better in the last few miles than I did in Missoula but I think I ran a smarter race and I felt confident that if the weather had been better I could have met my goal.
After the pain subsided and I thought about the race as a whole, I realized I enjoyed it and would run it again. I would train with more hills and make sure I added some at the end of my long runs to prepare for those final hilly miles. The course was varied and ran through some interesting neighborhoods/areas, the crowds were a great distraction, water/gatorade tables were well stocked and the long sleeved finishers shirts were nice. This race usually has cooler weather which is another but Texas weather this time a year is always a crap shoot, so there is no guaranty especially if you judge by the past 2 years.
Not meeting my goal on this race means I will be trying again… I am looking at a March race right now. I am hoping that if I run enough of these I will get good weather eventually :)
We continued our Thanksgiving tradition of running the Thankful Turkey 5K out in San Marcos this year. Being only 2 weeks out from my marathon, my goal for this race was pretty simple: win a turkey, I figured anything else would just be a bonus. My daughter also had a goal of winning some kind of food prize.
When we left Austin the temperature was 40 F but by the time we got to the race it had gone down to 35F. Living in Texas, I usually am complaining about the heat but on this morning I was a little worried about it being to cold for me to run a fast 5K. To make sure I was ready to run, I ran a 2 mile warmup. This worked well and made me feel surprisingly comfortable in just a skirt and tank.
This race is small and looking around I only saw one woman that I thought looked faster than me. Of course I realize looks can be deceiving but I have become pretty good at guessing. This race has a lot of twists and turns, so it is important to work the tangents. Unfortunately people tend to go out really fast for the first half mile and try to jockey for position. What really bothers me is when someone passes me and then gets in front of me, blocking my way and then slows down. Rant over.
Despite the escapades I ran a solid first mile, 6:47. The second mile started and my paced slowed. There are no hills on this course and there was no headwind to speak of, so there was no reason for this, other than there was no one close enough for me to catch or anyone trying to pass me. Mile 2 was 7:06.
At this point I had to give myself a pep talk. You know, “Suck it up”, “Stop being a wimp”. I noticed a couple of guys in front of me were starting to fade, so I set my sights on them. I passed them but they stayed close by, guys do not like to get chicked in a 5K. During the second half of mile 3, one of the guys I passed by me back. I hung back right behind him and this made us both run a little faster than we would have otherwise, 6:54. When my watch hit 3 miles (long before the 3 mile sign) I made my move and kicked, I passed the guy right in front of me and another one as well…that felt great. I ran the last .2 miles at a 6:16 pace.
My finish time was 22:02…2 seconds off my PR…but a course PR by 55 seconds. Also this course has always been long for me and it is hand timed, so all things considered I was really happy with my time and it gave me the boost of confidence I needed.
I was the second female in…as predicted by myself. The other woman came in with a 19:xx, so I really didn’t have a chance of winning this one. That kind of speed is totally out of my league. She was really nice though and we chatted after the race and ran a cool down together.
Second was still good enough to earn me a turkey, so goal met. My daughter also came in first in her AG, so she also won a turkey!! Yup we brought home 2 turkeys..one for Thanksgiving and one for Christmas :) Andrew again helped my son run a solid race. They didn’t have as many raffle prizes this year as they have had in the past, which made this year a little less fun. Instead of giving out little things, they bundled the prizes together. My son was a little disappointed about this and honestly so was I. It was nice when everyone walked away with a little prize even if it was only a little bag of pecans or a turkey baster. We still had fun and will continue running this race as our Thanksgiving Turkey trot.
Even though I was in the peak of my marathon training I decided to race the Boo Run this year. Like last year, I seriously considered just running it with one of the kids but I really wanted to see if I could manage to come in first overall female again. This was our third year running this race and it is always a lot of fun and for a good cause (Exceptional Georgetown Alliance). The race is an out and back on the San Gabriel trail and is pretty flat, the only bad part is it is concrete, which I am not fond of running fast on. One thing they added this year was chip timing which was a big plus for me.
My goals for this race were to win, improve my time over last year and PR if possible. I could tell as soon as I started running that a PR probably wasn’t going to happen, my legs were pretty slow from the high mileage marathon training and it is an evening race which my body is not used to. But I thought my other two goals were in the bag, that is until the turnaround at which point I thought I saw a little girl up ahead of me. Kids tend to start off to fast so I thought I had a chance of catching her during the second half of the race. At mile 2, a pain shot up my leg and then my glute tightened. I had to fight the urge to let the pain slow me down too much but it did slow me down and I didn’t catch the girl. I reached the finish line feeling deflated because a little girl beat me and I didn’t PR. My finish time was 22:20 (splits 7:01, 7:16, 7:20, 6:43 (for the last .11)). This was a course PR by 37 seconds, which is great but it wasn’t the race I was hoping for.
I waiting around for the results and saw that they said I was the first overall female. I was confused until I looked a little closer at the “girl” and realized that it was really a boy with long hair. I wasn’t the only one who made this mistake I heard him tell his father that people were telling him along the course that he was the first female. After realizing this and receiving my $100 RunTex gift certificate I felt much better, after all a win is a win and I ran faster than I did last year.
The kids also improved their times from last year and ran PRs. My daughter ran a 25:51 and my husband helped my son run a 28:21.