12 Mar

Apps for Runners

We have developed some apps for runners that I find useful and thought maybe some of you would as well.

 

The most popular one is the free Running Pace Calculator.  By entering a recent or goal race time and distance it will calculate your pace.  It will also calculate approximate equivalent performances at other distances  and give suggested training paces to help you reach your goals.

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A big favorite  is the free What to Wear Running? app.  This app will pull your local weather based on your location and make recommendations on what you should wear running.  I use it before I get dressed for my run to check the current weather conditions, I also take a peek at the recommendations even if my gear choice is slightly different than what they recommend it gives me an idea of what to wear so I don’t over or under dress.

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If you use a heart rate monitor during your runs you may find the free Heart Rate Zones app useful.  It calculates your heart rate zones,  gives a description of each zone and recommends which zone you should be in for your different kinds of runs.

Racing takes both planning and discipline, the discipline is up to you, but the Race Split planner app can help with the planning. Use this app to determine your target split times for your race. Knowing these splits will help you know if you are on target, running to slow or fast as you hit the mile/km  markers on the race course and then you can adjust your pace accordingly.

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The Runner’s Ally app includes ad free versions of all the apps described above plus hydration, BMI, and Calories burned calculators.

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10 Jan

Turtle Rescues Dog on a Run


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.

Read More

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24 Dec

Trail of Lights 5K 2012

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

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21 Dec

Another Fall Marathon in Texas

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)

Nemesis

8:17

8:09

8:11

7:55

8:07

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.

8:09

8:09

8:28

8:21

8:23

8:20

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.

8:08

8:06

8:14

8:13

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.

8:23

8:38

8:50

8:50

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.

Dollies Photo: CarolynADobson

9:11

9:16

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!!

8:42

8:47

9:01

9:11

8:56

3:45 (7:58 pace for the last .47)

3:44:36

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 :)

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26 Nov

A Tale of Two Turkeys

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.

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25 Nov

Boo Run 2012

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.

Another great Boo Run in the Books!!

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25 Nov

Cross Country Mom

My daughter is in seventh grade this year, which means that she can finally participate in school athletics.    She went back and forth on the decision to run cross country but after a couple of days with the PE kids, she decided she would much rather participate in a sport.

I was reluctant to even encourage cross country because I didn’t  want to be one of those parents that forces their kids to participate in the sport that they like, but I was secretly overjoyed that she joined.   I enjoyed watching the meets, cheering her on (occasionally a little over enthusiastically) and buying her running gear (I may have gone overboard here as well). But my favorite part of her being on the XC team was the running we got to do together.  I sometimes got a little coachy with her but mostly we just chatted and had a good time.   We got a lot of quality time together and now that the season is over I miss our runs.

As for her actual XC season, it was amazing.  Our team was small and didn’t do great overall but all the girls improved week to week.  Every meet was a PR for my daughter.  I was impressed with her fitness gains from week to week, I wish it were that easy for me to improve my racing times :).  She already has her goals set for next season and we have plans to run over the summer together so that she is better prepared going into the first few races.  I have a feeling in a couple of years I may have a hard time keeping up with her… she has said her ultimate goal is to beat me in a 5K race, I am going to try to stay ahead of her as long as I can.

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17 Jul

Missoula Marathon- Tiny PR

After two long years I finally completed marathon number 3.   I decided to run the Missoula Marathon again so that we could go on a family vacation to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons afterward and because I enjoyed it in 2010.

Going into this race I was pretty confident I could PR because my training went pretty well and I was lighter and leaner than I had ever been.  In hindsight I should have eaten a little more in the days before the race, I woke up feeling really drained and tired on Saturday and could tell I had lost more weight…not a good thing on the day before a marathon.

Weather was supposed to be hot in the afternoon but not horrible during the race ( 55 at the start and around 70 at the finish).

I felt great for the first 11 miles of the race, kept the pace in what I considered a safe range, no heavy breathing and no pushing.

My family was following me around during this portion and their cheers made me smile.  I only spoke to 2 ladies during this portion of the run and oddly enough they were from Austin.  The coolest thing I saw during this portion of the run was a golden eagle catch a fish out of the river and fly away with it.

8:02

8:10

8:02

8:07

8:05

8:08

8:10

8:07

8:12

8:05

8:08

Running at my goal pace became a little harder during miles 12-16.  I didn’t push on the hill at mile 14 because I didn’t want to burn myself out.  Having such a large hill in the middle of the course is rough but just like in 2010 I felt the climb was worth it because the views were breathtaking.

8:13

8:09

8:59

8:10

8:02

After coming down the hill I started to struggle.  My hamstrings and glutes were really hurting and I started to feel really drained even though I was fueling.

8:19

8:18

8:37

8:54

8:46

8:54

Andrew met me at mile 23 and I was really hoping this would help me run a little faster but my legs were dead and all I could manage was a death march to the finish line.

9:32

9:47

9:45

9:32

8:14 pace for the last .32

My official time 3:44:00, a very tiny 19 second PR.  But a PR, so I will not complain.  I was happy that I was able to complete the marathon and improve on my time from 2 years ago even if it is only by a few seconds.  A BQ has eluded me once again.

Looking back at my long runs they all ended pretty slowly and so did my marathon. I will need to add in some fast finish workout and more progressive runs.  Not losing weight the 3 days prior to the race would also help.   I also need to strengthen my hamstrings, so that they don’t crap out on me during the final miles.  The final thing that I think would help is finally getting some cooler weather during a marathon but I have no control over that.

We loved our trip to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, so much to see and do.  I took the full week off of running and am now easing my way back up for 2 weeks.  After that I will start training for a winter marathon.

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22 May

Cinco on Cinco

Our fifth and final 5K of the spring was the Chuy’s Hot to Trot Cinco on Cinco which was on May fifth of course.  Lots of fives.  This is the third time we have participated in this race. I like it because it is fun, it has a good course, benefits a good cause and all the speedsters show up.  The last one may seem like a disadvantage but it really is good to have a lot of fast people running when you want to run a fast race.

Andrew and I had the goal of beating last weeks time.  We knew it would not be easy since Schlotzky’s is a flat course as well and it was a hot and humid day.  The first mile and a half are slightly uphill so  the first mile was not as speedy as I would have liked (7:04).  After the half way point of mile 2 the course gets flat to slightly downhill so we were able to maintain a good pace (7:04).    The last mile is ever so slightly downhill but the heat really made it hard to pick up the pace as much as I would have liked, at least we held on to almost the same pace as the first and second mile (7:07).  We of course sprinted it in but I honestly did not have much of a kick left because I was already at my max and was really struggling to catch my breath.

We were super happy to see our finishing time 22:19!  A new CR, 23 seconds faster than Schlotzky’s and only 19 seconds slower than my PR.  We grabbed a drink and waited for the kids to come in.  We were surprised when we saw Hannah coming in before the clock said 28..she ran a 27:45, a huge PR for her !!!  Timothy also fought the heat and came in at a great time.

After the race we had fun catching up with local runners, Elvis, the Chuy’s fish and the mariachi band :)  We also enjoyed the post race treats.  And of course we had Chuy’s for lunch.

I consider our Spring 5Ks a success.  It was fun to race side by side with my husband and see improvements in our speed.   I am so proud of the kids for pushing through and running some tough courses and warm weather this year.    We are already looking forward to our Fall 5Ks!

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13 May

The Best Bunz in Town

We decided to run with the best bunz in town at the  30th Schlotzsky’s Bun Run benefiting the Austin Sunshine Camps for our fourth 5K of the spring.  We ran this race last year and it is a pretty flat course with a fast field of runners (plenty of people to try to chase down).  I thought the combination of being 5 pounds lighter than our first 5K this season, doing speed work and the flat course boded well for what I have come to refer to as a CR or a couple’s record despite the humid conditions on race day.

Our race plan was to head out fast and try to stay as close to a 7 minute pace as possible.  Our first mile mile was a 6:58, our fastest mile so far in a race.  Mile two was tough, Andrew ran slightly in front of me so I could chase him for a bit.  We practiced that during  our intervals and it worked well for us, we slowed down a bit but not too much (7:10).  For the third mile we were both really winded but a third person latched on to us and I made it my goal not to let that guy pass us, even though I was pushing at my max we only ran a 7:25.  After hitting three miles, we high tailed it to the finish.  Andrew told me the man we were pacing with was kicking so we kicked too… Our sprint to the finish was at a 6:19 pace.  All three of us finished at the same time.  It was awesome.   Our finish time was 22:42, a 37 second CR.  We were very excited.

After running the kids in, enjoying our post race goodies and chatting with some local runner friends, we tried to check the results.  They weren’t posted because the race timers were having issues with their printers, etc.  Since I thought there was an off chance of getting an AG award we waited around.  It turned out that I was second in my AG, so I got a nice medal :).  I was glad we waited.

Despite the timing issues and the delays that caused we really enjoyed running our bunz off again at the Schlotzsky’s Bun Run.

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